Learn how to persevere during a crisis before the crisis happens

“TOO WEAK!” The dojo walls echoed the screams of our instructor.

We were in formation, row upon row of exhausted, sweat soaked students. He stalked up and down the rows, and around the perimeter of the class, his eagle eye catching every imperfect punch or kick.

The worst offense was not to train hard enough. If one person was lax, everyone was punished. The penalties were double knee jumps or pushups or both.


The count was rapid and relentless.

We soared in the stifling heat, strained to send our bodies upward, and drew our knees up into our chests. As soon as our feet hit the floor, the rapid pace of his count drove us back up again. 

Over and over we repeated the movement in the sweltering heat of the dojo. It was situated in an old building without air conditioning and we trained upstairs. The heat of the hot summer day rose to where we trained and combined with the thermal energy that radiated from our bodies.

Thirty seconds of double knee jumps at his pace was brutal. Sixty seconds was an indication that our instructor was really annoyed with the lazy offender in class.

No one complained because the double knee jumps were better than the bamboo rod that used to be administered for not training hard enough.

Regular training consisted of warm-up, calisthenics and flexibility. We rotated through an assortment of skills: kicks, punches, patterns, sparring, and heavy bag training.

In almost every class, his corrections would rise above the thunder of feet hitting the dojo floor or the kiyups yelled in unison. “HAAAHHH!” The kiyups rose from deep in our bellies and up, and tightened our solar plexus as the sound blasted out of our mouths.

One of our instructor’s preferred verbal admonishments was to stop the class and tell us “What will you do in a fight for your lives? Are you going to tell your opponent that you are tired and need to take a break? Do you think your opponent will stop? NO! TOO WEAK! NOW TRAIN HARDER!”

His point was simple: learn to push beyond what you think you can do because it can save your life or someone else’s life someday.

I pushed myself through many limits during my training. Even my experience with “runners’ wall” during my running days was nothing like what I learned in that class.
I experienced what it meant to literally drop during a heavy bag workout. While I was being dragged off the floor and checked for cardiac by a fellow student who happened to be a physician, my thoughts were to get back in there and keep going.

I chose knuckle push ups over the other type of push up allowed for women because they strengthened my wrists. 

My preferred sparring partners were men. Sparring with taller men taught me to become fast and proficient with my kicks. I learned to overcome their longer limbs by getting in close past that radius.

I favored sparring partners who listened to me when I told them to forget you’re sparring with a female. I wanted to desensitize myself to the image of a larger and more powerful male coming at me and overcome that difference in combat.

Beneath my gi (uniform) was a road map of bruises from torn muscles and sparring. Not every student pushed that hard. I chose to push hard and train hard at the dojo and at home.

Tenacity or perseverance is something we can develop by challenging ourselves to continue in the face of adversity. It is an asset for a prepper.

It is a trait that we can rely upon in times of crisis, and if resources are stretched thin, it becomes a very important asset.

Tenacity can make the difference between survival and death.

Think about why some people give up just before they succeed. Just before they overcome a problem, some people stop trying, stop fighting and they just give up.

You don’t have to be a martial artist to learn tenacity. Push yourself every day to do better, to carry on when you are tired, to complete the task when you’re overwhelmed and frustrated. Just keep going. Don’t give up.

Don’t wait until there is a crisis to develop this trait. You can practice and learn tenacity each and every day. 

Don’t be the one who gives up just before the finish line, or before the battle is won, or before the crisis is over. Persevere and survive.


  • Comments (10)

    • 5

      I think your perseverance is similar to me being called stubborn as a mule.  I don’t give up easily.  It is nothing I learned but is a personality trait that probably is derived from my German heritage.  

      • 8


        It is indeed, similar to being stubborn as a mule. In training, I learned to kick like one (lol).

        It is true that some people are more inherently tenacious than others. What training did for me is test the limits of that tenacity and show me that I could push way beyond what I thought possible.

        I hit the heritage jackpot of Scottish, Austrian and English on one side and Dutch on the other. Some days I don’t know if want to do battle, make strudel, plant a nice garden or lower the lake.

    • 8

      Martial arts training is so fun and potentially useful. For a number of years, I was a member of an MMA gym. I was the oddball middle-aged woman at the time. I learned the basics of boxing, Muay Thai, and BJJ. It was so much fun! I have never had to use what I learned. I never trained as hard as you did, however, Ubique. I did learn about how soon I wanted to give up.

      • 5

        Hi Seasons4,

        Despite how I described it above, training actually is a lot of fun lol. Good for you to train also! Boxing is a good skill to learn and very practical.

        When I trained Muay Thai and BJJ weren’t as prevelant. BJJ is very highly rated and I enjoy watching the competitions for MMA. Grav Maga is offered, but too far for regular training.

        I did go on to study other disciplines but back problems cut that short. I still train mentally and physically for what I can still do.

        I started in my late 20’s. The woman who encouraged me to train was in her late 30’s when she began training. I have heard of people in their mid 70’s who began physical training (not in martial arts) and developed excellent strength and conditioning.

        That moment when you wanted to give up is a pivotal moment. I discovered that also. I believe that if we can determine that before a crisis, then we know that we are capable of pushing through that point and surviving.

        A lot of survival is about mental stamina and being able to cope with the stress and demand of a changed environment and conditions. It is also a time when new skills are tested, successes and failures registered and when one must cope with and assist others who are not coping well. There is a lot on our plates during a crisis. 

        Because you trained Seasons4, you gained practical knowledge and learned about your reactions when you pushed beyond your usual range of activity. That is an advantage in a crisis.

        A caveat for everyone: never push yourself past signs of a heart attack. That goes for any type of activity including distraction exercises used to manage chronic pain. Never ignore cardiac symptoms.

    • 5

      Perseverance is definitely a good characteristic to develop, grow, and ingrain before you need it. I try to incorporate and practice perseverance with difficult things I am doing. For example when I’m tired of painting the stupid garage and just want to go inside and rest, I will set a goal just a bit further and push myself to reach that extra foot or two of wall being painted. I feel that helps me to push through the easy thing, and strengthens me to be better.

      What other characteristics and traits would be valuable in a survival situation? I’ll throw out one, kindness/charity. Helping others could not only save someone’s life, but could come back to reward you.

      • 5


        What you described in your first paragraph is exactly how I used my training in daily life. It is easy to do the things we like to do or find easy to do, but it takes tenacity to do the things we may not like to do or find difficult to do.

        Your painting example is a very good one about continuing when you just want to stop. You set a goal to go a little further and go that extra foot or so.

        That strategy builds confidence as well as strength. We are surprised to learn that we can get the job done. I have also discovered that some of the things I was fond of doing became enjoyable because I stopped focussing on how much I didn’t want to do it.

        During times of crisis or disaster, there can be many times when we don’t want to go on or complete a difficult clean up task. If we know how to challenge our mental constraints, we can continue when giving up seems like the only option.

        As for other traits, kindness/charity is so important. I survive to retain my humanity not lose it. It wouldn’t be worth it to me otherwise.

        I think the ability to stay calm is a very important trait. I have a family member who becomes stressed and vocal very easily. That is a concern in a crisis situation, such as home security/break-in where calm, stealth and silence would be of paramount importance. I’m still trying to work with him to teach him that self-control. I guess self-discipline and self-control would be other traits.

        Thanks for replying Olly, really helpful response for anyone looking to understand the practical nature of this subject.

      • 6

        I too have a family member that becomes easily stressed out. That could work against her both physically with an immediate danger of something like a break in, but also mentally. If a disaster were to happen, that stress sure will take a toll on her mentally, which then moves to physically through body going through so much stress and anxiety.

        Meditation could be a way that she could work to overcome that natural tendency by training the brain to be able to calm down quickly and gain a sense of grounding. And just general preparedness will help. If you have the skill, gear, training, and ability to overcome the challenge before you, you are better able to cope and conquer than if you went into battle without your sword or any fighting skills.

      • 4

        Olly, Your strategy to teach your family member meditation and other coping methods is a good idea to help her overcome anxiety and how she reacts to stressful situations.

        Some reactions are harder to control. My family member has symptoms and no definitive diagnosis. The one his physicians suspect won’t be confirmed until autopsy.

        There are other possibilities and it means taking one day at a time and dealing with his outbursts as they come. I try to learn from each one and figure out how to mitigate the next one.

        In the meantime, I run interference on anything that can upset him where possible. 

        For example, I sleep closest to the bedroom door so I can react and deal with intruder(s). His job is to call 911 and protect my dog. By giving him one task (call 911) and one mission (protect my dog), I can hopefully keep him calmer and focussed. What I don’t want is for him to get in the way if I am fighting someone.

        He did stay on task and call 911 while I charged out the front door to run off 3 young men who were openly checking doors on a senior’s residence. They then split up to go toward the homes of two single senior widows down the street. He did well and stayed in the house as per our plan.

        Definitely, the more prepared we are, the better the outlook. 

      • 4

        Good plan to give them 1 job and 1 mission. I’ll have to pass that info and idea off to her and her husband and see if that’s something they want to implement. 

        Do you remember if they caught those three young punks?

      • 2

        The three involved were known in the community. There were no charges against them, however, they knew the house to go to from the description I gave them. They probably got a warning from the local police. They do a lot of mediation style policing here.

        I didn’t have my security cameras installed at the time, so I had couldn’t provide video evidence.

        They are part of the seasonal visitor problem in this town. They stayed at a house in the neighborhood and are relatives of that family. They are a problem. I have seen the largest, oldest one around for awhile, so maybe he got arrested or convinced not to come back.

        Neighborhood watch is important. I wish everyone would participate and help keep our communities safer for everyone. A lot of people here don’t want to get involved. If only they would.