I’ve been very fortunate in my life and career. I’ve worked alongside some of the best police officers in the nation. I’ve experienced those moments of pride while locking a criminal predator away, knowing that his reign of terror over those I protect is through. I’ve also been able to attend training conducted by some of the best law enforcement instructors in the world , which, by the way, you can also do with a trip to Chicago next April 11-16 to attend the ILEETA Conference.
But long before the existence of ILEETA, while I was still in grade school, there stood a warrior of epic proportions who we can all learn from. Master Sgt. (MSG) Roy P. Benavidez, U.S. Army, Medal of Honor recipient , was the epitome of a concept that I believe is absolutely critical for all law enforcement officers to practice. Having the luxury of this article being published on the Internet allows me to point you toward the story of this incredible warrior, one who can inspire everyone reading this.
One of the primary concepts that I discuss in my annual “Critical Combative Concepts” presentation at ILEETA is “commitment.” I don’t believe that any officer–or anyone else for that matter–can ever reach the pinnacle of their potential in any endeavor without first developing a relentless, undying commitment to prevail.
One of the best mainstream entertainment examples of commitment is the sword fight between King Arthur and the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. If you remember, the Black Knight denied King Arthur passage across the bridge he was guarding with a resounding “none shall pass.” During the ensuing sword fight, the Black Knight lost both of his arms and both of his legs. Still, his commitment to fight remained as he challenged King Arthur to continue the battle, yelling: “Come back here and take what’s coming to you–I’ll bite your legs off!”
Although the movie was made up, the knight’s commitment to prevail is inspires me. MSG Benavidez displayed a similar commitment in battle, albeit in real life. And just as MSG Benavidez’s commitment saved numerous lives (including his own), such a high level of commitment can also be your lifesaver.
I’m rapidly approaching the three decade mark in studying survival during incidents of horrific violence inflicted upon officers. Through my experience, I can’t even begin to count the number of times that I’ve observed that officers have survived these horrific incidents based almost solely upon their commitment to do so. If you truly want to understand the level of commitment I want you to instill in you, watch this YouTube video of MSG Roy P. Benavidez’s story. MSG Benavidez, in my humble opinion, is the ultimate example of a relentless, undying commitment to prevail.
So how can you develop an undying, relentless commitment to prevail and/or to survive? First, you must identify your potential losses. If you fail to commit and ultimately give up in the heat of battle, what will you be losing? Not just your life, but your kids, your spouse and everything else that makes life worth living. Always remember: If someone is trying to kill you, they’re also trying to kill your kid’s parent, your spouse’s mate and your parents’ child. So if you have even a slight lack of commitment, put those loved ones in the equation and see if it doesn’t make you realize exactly what you’re fighting for.
Whether you’re facing an opponent in a sport or fighting for your life, you must always make a commitment to prevail. Think about your experiences playing sports in high school or college. The athletes who were the true champions always competed with the idea that they were there to achieve a crushing victory. There was no doubt in their minds that when they stepped on the field, they were there to win. Those that were occasional winners often played with a mentality of “trying not to lose.” While it might sound like semantics, the two attitudes are very different!
When you commit to prevail, your entire being has only one goal: to defeat your opponent no matter what he throws at you, and to win. If you adopt the try-not-to-lose attitude, you allow an element of doubt to enter into the equation. This doubt will consume the mental and physical energy that you need to apply toward your goal of victory; you have, in effect, strengthened your opponent’s position in your mind while simultaneously weakening your own.
Are there times to retreat and regroup? Absolutely! However, there also are times when retreating or regrouping isn’t a viable option. During these times, you’re stuck and must fight to prevail. When engaged in battle, you should constantly be committing all of your stamina toward completing the tasks necessary to achieve victory.
Only by devoting every microscopic bit of energy within your heart, mind and soul toward winning can you gain the edge that’s necessary to prevail in an otherwise un-winnable confrontation. Do you think MSG Benavidez would have told you anything different?
After 32 years of law enforcement service with a large urban police department, Charles E. Humes, Jr. honorably retired at the rank of Sergeant in 2015. Independently achieved, he is recognized internationally as one of the pioneers of modern, realistic police defensive tactics training. He has taught seminars and instructor certification schools as far West as Alaska and as far East as North Carolina; and has trained police instructors from as far as Hong Kong.
He was a 2016 recipient of the Ohio Distinguished Law Enforcement Training Award from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.