Warrior Ethos & Combat Mindset

By Mark V. Lonsdale, STTU Training Director

A significant part of surviving a lethal encounter is a combat mindset. The other components are reality-based training and a willingness to use it. So how does one develop a combat mindset?

You do not have to be former military or law enforcement to adopt a warrior ethos and to improve the probabilities of surviving a dangerous confrontation. You just have to accept that your personal survival is your responsibility, and then commit to do something about it.

The newspapers and nightly news carry literally dozens of accounts of assaults, street muggings, robberies, home invasions, car jackings, stabbings, rapes, kidnappings, and murders, so it would be foolish to believe that you or your loved ones will never be a victim of street crime. And now, with the police being forced to stand down by leftist politicians, weak mayors, and gutless city councils, it’s even more important that regular citizens develop the skills and mindset to protect themselves. Face it, the police aren’t coming!

So developing a warrior ethos and combat mindset begins by accepting that it could happen to you. Next it is necessary to do your research on attack methodology to better understand how these violent thugs and criminals operate and the tactics they employ. This process of educating yourself serves two purposes: 1. It allows you to tailor your choice of weapons and training to meet the threat, and, 2. It will improve your ability to recognize a dangerous situation or emerging threat.

An additional part of your education is developing an understanding of the legal constraints for self-defense and use of deadly force. In essence, deadly force should be used in “defense of life” only, or imminent risk of grievous bodily harm. You must be “in fear of your life” or that of your loved ones. But each state has different “home & castle” and “stand your ground laws” related to threats, intruders, home invasion, and self-defense. It is therefore essential that you seek out training, such as provided in most concealed weapons courses, on the laws specific to your location. The reason for this is your need for moral and legal clarity as to the use of force, which in turn will reduce hesitation in the heat of the moment.   

Part of your mental preparation is to refine your Situational Awareness. One of the single most important skills for personal protection is the power of observation which provides the ability to recognize and avoid danger.  Unfortunately, most people go about their everyday lives with little appreciation for what’s happening around them. They are focused on what they are doing or where they are going, while talking on their cell phones, plugged into music, or just day dreaming. These are the easy, soft targets that street thugs and criminals profile and seek out. It is not surprising that a person who has ear-buds in or wearing headphones is easy to approach and surprise, plus that thousand dollar cell phone is a valuable prize in itself.

On the physical side there are several levels to training, the first of which is basic physical fitness. Being able to out run a threat is a valuable street survival skill, but if you can’t run, then you need the strength and stamina to meet the threat head on. You will be fighting for your life, so you need to train like your life depends on it. Being morbidly obese, chain smoking, and simply doing yoga or Pilates is not going to cut it. The foundation of the warrior ethos is personal fitness and becoming hard.

Living the Warrior Ethos

The extension of physical training is skills training. This includes fight training, martial arts, firearms training, self defense classes, and even driver training. Martial arts need to be practiced at least twice a week to develop the required muscle memory, and firearms training should be both frequent and realistic. Plinking with a .22 rifle at 50 yards is not the same as engaging multiple man-sized targets at close to medium range in less than ideal low-light conditions. Keep in mind that bad things happen at night, so close quarters low-light training must be a part of your training routine.

In addition, part of the fight or firearms training should be the conditioning to act or react decisively and not to freeze. People react differently under stress – Freeze, Fight or Flee. Fleeing and avoiding the confrontation is often preferable, but Fighting is the option you must train for. Essentially, reality-based training should instill the reactions and reflexes to block, pivot, strike, draw, or engage – depending on which the situation dictates.    

Two parts of the combat mindset worth developing are the ability to make a cold, calm assessment of the situation, followed by an aggressive, even ferocious, counter-attack. An individual in a panicked mental state can neither think rationally nor react correctly. This is what the thugs and scumbags are counting on – that you will freeze. This goes back to the importance of reality-based training that exposes you to dangerous situations based on real world attack methodologies. In these situations you need to be able to tap into your primal rage while maintaining control of that aggression. Make the bad guys feel like they have kicked a hornets nest.

When you combine all of the above, and after a suitable amount of training time, you should develop the confidence and ability to handle a variety of street level situations. It is that confidence that will allow you to think clearly and react correctly to the threat.

Finally, once it is “fight on,” never quit, never give-up, never surrender. Inflict so much damage that the assailant(s) realize that the return is not worth the effort. In addition, the more injuries you can inflict, the greater the probability that law enforcement may catch them. But at the end of the day, your survival depends on your training and mindset.   


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Officer Involved Shooting

Thanks to Police 1 for the share

Bodycam video published Friday by Mercury News details the moments surrounding a deadly March 24 shootout. Footage shows the suspect shot at Officer Brian Burch, who immediately returned fire and hit the suspect.


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Train Until You Can’t Get it Wrong

By Mark V. Lonsdale – STTU

Train, train, and then train some more.
Train hard – Training often – Training Smart.
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LAPD Response to 2020 Riots

Police 1 article

A group of retired Los Angeles Police Department veterans and others reviewed the response of the Los Angeles Police Department to demonstrations and disturbances in Los Angeles in late May and early June 2020 following the death of George Floyd. The result was a 100-page report titled “An Independent Examination of the Los Angeles Police Department 2020 Protest Response” that was made public on March 11, 2021.

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The Training Never Stops

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Shoot / No Shoot — The Storming of the US Capitol

Worth a read and discussion with your senior administrators


Should you shoot someone breaching the U.S. Capitol?

Decisions to use force, especially deadly force, are unquestionably the most critical an officer will ever make

Today at 10:27 AM

By Jim Glennon

A loaded question and a loaded title, right?

Police keep a watch on demonstrators who tried to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington.
Police keep a watch on demonstrators who tried to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Calibre Press articles generally focus on police training and decision-making is an essential part of all training. We also address issues that impact the profession and today we find ourselves with no lack of impactful issues.


I repeat the title because decisions to use force, especially deadly force, are unquestionably the most critical an officer will ever make. They’re very often made in the blink of an eye, under extreme stress and being processed with incomplete information and restricted cognitive abilities. They’re also something that officers will have to explain, justify and live with for the rest of their lives. That’s a fact that those disparaging the police on a regular basis never talk about.

The police are taught that if their lives or the lives of innocent others are in imminent jeopardy, they are legally allowed to use the force necessary to stop the threat. The advent of body cameras and our ability to review force encounters confirms that in the vast majority of cases where officers decide to use deadly force, they are justified in doing so.

Go to YouTube and look at the dozens and dozens of examples of that. People charging officers with knives and guns and after receiving multiple warnings to stop, still deciding to attack. The legal justification is clear; the officers had to shoot.

A terrible decision to have to make, but a decision that was obviously necessary. The decision was to save a life by taking one.

It’s life altering.

But what if the decision is not so clear cut?


Case in point: Congress is in session. We basically have the entire House of Representatives and members of the Senate all in one building. There are countless offices in that same building filled with staff members and rife with top-secret documents and electronic equipment storing government secrets.

And someone with a backpack ignores law enforcement orders, breaks through a window and begins climbing through. They’re breaching the United States Capitol.

Now what? Watch this footage and think about what YOU would do…https://www.youtube.com/embed/LMTfP6chPMQ?rel=0

Forget what you have seen; the videos of the mob and rioters disrespecting our laws and brazenly overtaking and occupying the Capitol building on January 6th. Imagine it was just one person effecting the breach.

What do you do if you are a Capitol police officer or a member of the United States Secret Service?

Go hands-on?

What sane person would ignore orders from a duly appointed, armed law enforcement official? What is their purpose, goal, intent?

What about that backpack? What’s in it?

What if it contains explosives? Anthrax?

What if it doesn’t contain anything but clothing and a rambling political manifesto?

The decision to shoot or not to shoot would take place in less time than it took me to type those questions.

Now imagine that it’s not just one person breaching. It’s one thousand.

When I watched the movie “White House Down” I wondered how possible it would be to take one building, whether the White House or the Capitol. I thought the movie, while very entertaining, was too farfetched to be believed.

Not now.

The shooting of the former military veteran by a sworn Capitol police officer climbing through that window is tragic on so many levels.

But disregarding emotion, was it a good shoot?

What would you have done?

The second-guessing is already starting.


Let’s forget the Capitol.

Imagine this: A riot is in full swing. A man with a Molotov cocktail, the wick burning, isn’t running toward the Capitol full of elected Representatives and Senators, but a house with regular citizens in it.

Do you shoot to stop?

A burning cart is being pushed toward a car dealership. You have no way of knowing if anyone is inside the business.

Do you shoot to stop?

A police station has officers trapped inside unable to escape because the doors have been locked from the outside by attackers who are setting the building on fire.

Do you shoot to stop?

Thirty people are smashing windows and storming a store filled with frightened women who locked the doors because of the violent behavior of the rioters. Do you allow them to break, enter, pillage and perhaps assault and rape those women?

How do you stop them?


This job has never been easy when it comes to making deadly force decisions in the moment. The second-guessing is easy. It’s also arrogant and presumptuous.

It’s usually done with malicious bias, self-righteousness and complete ignorance of the deadly realities and immense complexities of these situations. It also totally disregards the humanity of the officers involved and the emotional, psychological and often legal aftermath they face. For doing their jobs. For protecting others.

What happened at the Capitol a few days ago is mind-boggling on so many levels. It was an embarrassment to the country and what we stand for. It was unnecessary. It was egregious.

The question will forever be: Was it preventable?

Could someone in power have done something, anything, to have prevented that moment where the Capitol police officer was put in a position to discharge his weapon and kill the women coming through the window? Why was she the only one shot?

Were there clear warnings to those approaching the Capitol that they would in fact be shot if they attempted to breach? Was there a plan to convey that message to the masses?

Was there too much of an attempt to de-escalate and avoid force on the part of the command and consequently the officers on the ground?

Did the fact that the multitude of other protests in major cities over the past eight months – protests that quickly exploded into violent, destructive riots, in many cases with impunity – impact the mindset of the protesters in D.C. on January 6?

Finally, did the Capitol police officers fear that if they used force their own careers would be in jeopardy?

While those questions are being asked and will be examined and investigated in the aftermath, it was a Capitol police officer who was put in the position to make the decision to shoot.

Let’s think of that officer while we scrutinize the unfortunate moment. Let’s consider his humanity.

He made a decision. A decision he didn’t want to make.

Why did he have to?

About the author

Lt. Jim Glennon (ret.) is the owner and lead instructor for Calibre Press. He is a third-generation LEO, retired from the Lombard (Illinois) PD after 29 years of service. Rising to the rank of lieutenant, he commanded both patrol and the Investigations Unit. In 1998, he was selected as the first Commander of Investigations for the newly formed DuPage County Major Crimes (Homicide) Task Force. He has a BA in Psychology, a Masters in Law Enforcement Justice Administration, is the author of the book “Arresting Communication: Essential Interaction Skills for Law Enforcement.”

The Calibre Column is provided by Calibre Press, Inc., one of the most recognized and respected law enforcement training organizations in the industry. Offering hundreds of courses each year on topics ranging from Street Survival®, Active Threat Engagement and Assault Detection & Response to Highway Patrol Tactics, Emotional Survival, and Leadership, Calibre Press has trained more than one million officers nationwide over its 40-year history. In addition to on-site courses, Calibre also offers an increasing collection of training-focused videos available through www.calibrepress.com.

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Fatal Shooting at the US Capitol


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Ask Not….. & Meet the Challenge


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The Training Never Stops!

From the Director’s Desk

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Train Hard – Train Smart – Train Often

Mark V. Lonsdale, STTU

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