With the right course, professional training can be a lifesaver. It helps everyone by giving people access to countless years of training, education, and wisdom. There are some pitfalls to avoid though. I’ve always enjoyed the process and have learned many painful lessons in that process. I’ve narrowed it down to 3 Fatal Focuses.

Focusing on these fatal 3 can mean not only the difference with competitive seconds and inches but life and death as well. This is what guides me and I hope it helps you.


The world is only new to you. You and nothing you do is new to the world.

Even with the most basic view of human history, people have been stabbing each other with pointy things and launching projectiles with only relatively small breaks before starting to fight again. The technology used to serve that purpose is the only change. New or invented techniques within various periods of history and within various cultures to serve that purpose are few and far between. Techniques are only discovered. Nothing is new.

Focus on the search for principles-based, time tested, and empirically validated training methods. There is only a handful of instructors that I wouldn’t recommend training with because fortunately, most have this in mind. Refinement of technique is critical but having a strong foundation on uncompromising principals will drive your training direction to focus on the right techniques for you.


Pay attention to marketing that is overtly flashy or complex. In the peer reviews, there is a good chance a couple of things will emerge. The first being that it all goes out the window after initial contact without a cooperative opponent. The second (not so obvious) is that the material is still very complex for the instructor. Which will, in turn, be complex for you to understand. Will you gain nothing from the experience? Not exactly, but it is still providing you a small return on your investment.

You are an End-User. Whether you’re a Tier 1 Operator or the Hair-Dresser for that Operator that is what you are at the end of the day what. As an End User search for the smallest amount of solutions to the largest amount of problems. “Cool” usually is either flashy, complex, or both just for the sake of being that. No one is immune to the effects of the initial contact. Fighting already is messy enough without adding unnecessary movements. Do not stray from the path of proven simplicity for luxurious complexity.


Global War On Terror Veterans have done many great things for the industry. They bring recent modern conflict experiences to validate and disprove certain ideas; specifically, physiological effects. The emerging idea of “tactical fitness” being the foundational element of personal defense in civilians is by far a very positive effect. In an industry where at the premier event vendors carry size 58 pants; fitness for safety and lethality is an Achilles heel.

However, have a plan when it comes to this element. Don’t be so focused on what is heard through the grapevine. Better yet, validate what the common platitudes for yourself. You’ll be surprised how some far conclusions can be from reality. Also, seek those who have the skill set to replicate those effects. The internet is full of videos with really hard workouts message that are only about getting really tired and sore from the experience. In reality anyone can get you really tired. Literally anyone. Having a proven plan that makes you better with regards to your work capacity is something else entirely. It seems like everyone who the best worker-outer at their unit all of sudden became a tactical fitness and combat physiology expert with a program to sell. Some even sell the programs their units paid for or provided them.


“Cool Guy Club”

The guys who have earned their title, served in combat, or in a department definitely deserve respect as authentic in that area. However, there also has been an influx of instructors who weren’t thought of as experts while in service but using said service or anecdotal experience while in service to claim expertise. Coaching and teaching in itself is an art and a science. We do in fact want and need the people with real-world experience, but we don’t want the one set of experiences to drive all of the training or be the only standard for quality instruction. Also, read “Your Military Training is Not Enough” as a follow on to this point.

Have Something to Add?

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*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

By John Valentine

Spotter Up Podcast Host

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