Training through reading fiction

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I missed publishing last week’s article because I had to travel for business. While on the plane, I did what many travelers do, I read. As I have mentioned in other articles, I read a lot on the martial arts. I also happen to read a lot of fiction. Some of the fiction I read has scenes of violent altercations.

While reading a book with scenes like that, I found myself thinking about what I would do in the same situations. Would I confront, would I withdraw. Could I win or would I lose, and why. This led me to realize that reading fiction was more than just a relaxing pastime for me. Reading fiction exposed me to situations that I may never have thought myself for which I can think of responses. It gives me the opportunities to think about responses that would work for me and ideas for additional training.

Physical training alone does not prepare you for self-defense. No one is going to perform a step in punch when you are ready. There are an infinite number of ways we can be attacked. There can be weapons involved or multiple attackers of varying skill levels. It is hard for an individual to come up enough scenarios to train for. Fiction can give the scenarios from the perspective of many authors, all with different life experiences. It is a wealth of new perspectives that you can use to prepare yourself.

Movies don’t work as well as books. I cannot picture myself as Tom Cruise punching his fist through a window to capture bad guys. When I am reading, I can see through the character’s eyes since it is my imagination. This is unlike a movie where everything is spoon fed to you. Movies are also two flashy. I know a lot of martial artists but I only know one or two that MIGHT have a chance of holding on to the edge of a building and pulling themselves up. I am not one of them.

Reading gives you the opportunity to reflect on situations through the filter of your experiences and abilities. You are the director of the film in your head. You get to choreograph the fights. That experience is what makes reading more valuable for this exercise than movies.

Take the time to read fiction. You will find that you will gain the knowledge from experiences that you never experienced. You can also get this from biographies. Learning from others actions can be more valuable than learning from your own mistakes, especially when a mistake means you get hurt or worse.

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