For those of you that know me, you’re probably aware that I have music in my bones. I fancy myself something of a “below-above average” banger of the drum kit, and a true lover of all things rock & roll. In Dave Grohl’s book – “The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music,” he tells of his humble beginnings, growing up in a Virginia suburb outside Washington D.C. Dave would go on to be an international rock & roll superstar, with success and longevity of relevance that has and will continue to rival that of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
Dave learned the guitar from a Beatles songbook and from spinning various records in his childhood bedroom, and he learned to play drums from banging on pillows – arranged in a drum kit-like configuration. From a Beatles song book and pillow drums, to being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame TWICE is no small feat, especially considering both inductions came during his lifetime. Talk about a short list of peers. Anyway… So how does Dave’s story relate to an article like Slicing the Pie?
Like Dave’s musical journey, everyone’s martial lifestyle has a humble beginning, and the only end to our path comes when we die, or when we choose to stop improving.
You might think my martial journey began when I joined the police force in 2008, but you’d be mistaken.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve benefited greatly from lessons, experiences, and training that wouldn’t exist for me without my chosen career path. However, my martial path began with a YouTube video titled “.40s Suck.” It was my first exposure to James Yeager of Tactical Response, and I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when that video appeared on my screen. I had been a cop for about five or six years at that point and I thought I knew a thing or two about guns – handguns in particular. I’ll have to re-visit the significance of that video and the great caliber debate in a later article.
For now, just know that video encounter left an indelible mark on my life, and set me instantly on a course of enthusiastic, continued education – much the same way the band “Naked Raygun” changed the life of a young Dave Grohl.
Perhaps your path began by learning firearm safety from a parent or grandparent. Maybe it started when you joined the military, or when you took your first concealed carry class. Maybe the proverbial “light bulb” was lit when you read a book or an article that really spoke to you. Regardless, it started (or it needs to start) and it’s your responsibility to continue moving, learning, and growing.
In a 2010 interview with “PopMatters,” Foo Fighters Drummer Taylor Hawkins said “I know I’m not Freddie Mercury or Ann Wilson, and that’s okay. You don’t have to be a great singer to sing rock and roll. That’s not what it’s about.” Similarly, you don’t have to be the Spartan King Leonidas or a decorated Navy Seal to be successful in battle. Comparing yourself to others who have progressed further along the martial path is counterproductive. However, you can glean from their teachings and their bravery – as well as the lives of countless other notable warriors – things that will help you be successful in the most critical circumstances. Nobody expects you to be a high-speed, low-drag, steely- eyed dealer of death – just like nobody expects me to be the 2nd coming of John Bonham. That said, you can achieve a survival level of proficiency, and you can continue to advance even after mastery is obtained.
The decision to prioritize safety for yourself and others is entirely up to you, and how far you progress along the path is only limited by your willingness to put in the work. You can make safety a priority in your life and appreciate the efforts and sacrifices of so many that have gone before you, by continually doing things to make yourself an asset to those around you, rather than a complacent liability.
Just as inroads for modern rockstars were paved by the deeds (and misdeeds) of the flamboyant stage-divers who came before them, your martial path has been paved for you by some figurative giants. All you have to do is commit to walking it. If you never move beyond that article you read, or the hunting skills you learned, the class you attended, or if I’d dismissed that YouTube video – we’d be no good to anyone when the chips are down.
Wes Bayliss, of the band “The Steel Woods” sings “Nothing makes you old like holding onto youth.” If you remain an infant, standing at the precipice of your own journey, you will one day wake up as someone you don’t recognize. You will have been living in the past and on the day of your emergency, when you’re involuntarily thrust into the present, your body will have aged, but your mind will have remained the same. So, get to work – get to training – get to reading – be better tomorrow than you are today, and help keep fresh pavement on the road for the next generation of warriors.
Avoid what you can. Defeat what you can’t.
Please submit your questions to Ryan via email at Ryan@9and1tactical.com
(Ryan Barnette is not a licensed attorney or a medical provider, and no information provided in “Slicing the Pie,” or any other publication authored by Ryan Barnette should be construed, in any way, as official legal or medical advice.)
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