Take Action to Alleviate Angst

Many stories and posts have been written about the malaise people are experiencing. Among the reasons given are a faltering economy, world discord and rampant joblessness. It's hard to beat the feeling that no matter what you do, you can't influence your fate — that you can't exert control over your situation.

I learned a long time ago in the military during survival and resistance training that one of the things that upset a person's equilibrium the most is simply "not knowing." In Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School, as well as Survival and Resistance Training, every effort is made to keep trainees in the dark about what's coming next. In the higher levels of SERE, even the trainees' circadian rhythms — a human being's "body clock" — are disrupted to destabilize them, taking away important physiological touchstones.

To combat this, trainees are taught to maintain any rituals and routines they can control, such as shaving and hygiene, physical exercise and visualization drills conducted at particular times during the day.

It occurred to me that if people have become troubled to the point of distraction and depression because they increasingly feel a lack of control in life, a variation on the military solution could provide them with some relief. In particular, I'm referring to participation in personal fitness and martial arts, combatives or combat-sports training, which is totally under your control. Here's what I suggest:


With the advent of cable television's 24/7 news cycle and the seemingly infinite number of other outlets, bad news is made to appear disastrous. We're bombarded by attempts to compete for our attention by news outlets that make even disturbing news catastrophic. I'm sick of it.

An avowed news junkie, I've opted to limit my intake to three internet news sources that I check once in the morning. I don't need the histrionics of the on-air personalities. I'm tired of their crap.


First, objectively develop a true assessment of your physical state. That means a trip to the doctor's office for a physical and bloodwork. Know — don't guess — what your real physical condition is with regard to your weight, blood, heart and anything else that may be ailing you or in need of improvement.

Second, videotape yourself training, sparring or fighting and then review it critically.


Get a logbook, something that's small enough to have with you all the time and that has enough pages so you can track your progress. If you want to lose weight or bulk up, monitor your food intake: calories, protein, fat, carbohydrates and any supplements you take. Track your weight and specific body measurements that will indicate the effectiveness of your efforts.

If people have become troubled to the point of distraction and depression because they increasingly feel a lack of control in life, a variation on the military solution could provide them with some relief.

Similarly, you'll want to log your training: your strength routine, your conditioning routine and your skills training. Your records should cover drills, exercises, sparring sessions and anything else you do, including percentages of training time attributed to each and specific skills within each. Every two weeks, videotape yourself again and compare that video with the last. Each month, compare the most recent video with the first "index" video. Reward yourself for improvements. Punish yourself for failures.


These are extreme goals that are achievable but will require extraordinary effort. Whenever you attain a stretch goal, it should serve as proof that you're able to achieve phenomenal results without relying on anything but yourself.

There's simply no more empowering feeling than knowing that — regardless of the world economy, your idiot boss, mounting bills or any other of the myriad things beating you down — you're still capable of doing something extraordinary.


The last thing you need when you're trying to break out of a downward spiral is one more thing to feel bad about. If you won't gut it out, if you have doubt, if you think you'll do things half-assed, don't start. The objective of the exercise is to prove to yourself that people and circumstances have power over you only if you let them.If you're not willing to do something about your situation, you lose your right to whine and bitch.

To order Kelly McCann's Combatives for Street Survival, go to shop.blackbeltmag.com. To sign up for his online course, visit madrills.com.

Black Belt Magazine has a storied history that dates back all the way to 1961, making 2021 the 60th Anniversary of the world's leading magazine of martial arts. To celebrate six decades of legendary martial arts coverage, take a trip down memory lane by scrolling through some of the most influential covers ever published. From the creators of martial art styles, to karate tournament heroes, to superstars on the silver screen, and everything in between, the iconic covers of Black Belt Magazine act as a time capsule for so many important moments and figures in martial arts history. Keep reading to view the full list of these classic issues.

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