You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
Irecently attended traffic school for a speeding ticket. If ever there were a collection of armchair experts assembled in one room, this was certainly it, as well as a lesson on people’s inability to be objective about themselves. The instructor asked the class for a show of hands of everyone who considered themselves to be a good driver. Of course, everyone in the class threw up their hands — including me. As the class progressed, my lack of familiarity about the ever-changing laws became more apparent. I also couldn’t help but wonder how some of the people around me would even qualify for a library card, much less a driver’s license. Bottom line — I reluctantly accepted the fact that if I were such a good driver, I wouldn’t be there.
Not long after traffic school, some fellow staff members and I were invited to attend Bondurant Racing School in Arizona to participate in their executive protection driving program. The curriculum covers braking at high speed, driving cars with hydraulic outriggers to simulate oversteer and understeer, practicing reverse 180-degree turns, performing and learning to escape from PIT maneuvers, and a whole host of other skills. To say I was humbled about my driving skills is an understatement. Controlling a car under those circumstances is much harder than it looks.
What it all clearly demonstrated was that, whether in a car or any other type of survival situation, people overestimate their own level of knowledge. There’s really no plateau to the learning curve. Even when you’ve managed to do something fairly well for over 20 years, you probably only know about half as much as you think you do. The lessons we gleaned from Bondurant were invaluable. Nowhere else can you get the level of instruction we did about vehicular survival — a topic that doesn’t get enough attention given the amount of time we spend in our cars. Turn to Tom Marshall’s piece elsewhere in this issue to examine some potential situations where these skills might save your life.
Aside from brushing up on your abilities behind the wheel, your choices for personal protection and training are truly endless. Given the proliferation of mixed martial arts, and now that Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso have rekindled their rivalry, we felt it appropriate to outline several self-defense strategies — from how to react if your car is mobbed to selecting the martial arts system that’s right for you.
We also spoke with some first responders about their experience dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Even if you don’t live in an area affected by hurricanes, you’d be surprised to learn what possessions might save your life and common mistakes people make during natural disasters. Since we’re also in the midst of fire season, have a look at Scott Finazzo’s piece on fire suppression to learn some tools and techniques to defend your humble abode if a blaze breaks out.
In this issue’s Survivalist Spotlight, we sat down with former firefighter Thomas Coyne and learned about his transition from a rough childhood to battling some of California’s biggest wildfires to starting his own survival school. This illustrates what one motivated individual can do to improve their life and surroundings if they want it badly enough. Coyne’s been on the front lines and teaches things that could only come from some hard-earned experience — something desperately lacking in many other survival schools run by questionably qualified instructors.
Our initial instinct is always to focus on our own survival measures, but the more we help others help themselves, the less dependent everyone will be during a crisis. If you don’t help or teach others, dependency becomes desperation. While we might not see the changes politically we’re hoping for, it’s up to us to form our own enclaves of preparedness and extend an open invitation to those who may even be critical of it. If you want to see real change in society, it happens from the ground up, not the top down. But even though you think you’ve mastered a skill, resting on your laurels is one of the easiest ways to ensure your own demise when the situation becomes perilous. Always continue to work on improving what you think you’ve mastered.