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Monday, July 18, 2011

Survival of the fittest

“Survival of the fittest”

This expression is often attributed to Charles Darwin and, although it appears in the fifth edition of his Origin of Species, 1869, it is there attributed to Herbert Spencer:.

We have all heard this expression before but what does it really mean? Survival of the strongest? Survival of the smartest? Survival of the richest?

Before we make a decision, let’s learn from nature. Who has survived out there, who has not. Theories are nice but proof is always in the pudding. Here are a few examples

· A dramatic change was too much for the dinosaurs. Most were not able to survive. It does not really matter if that change was climatic, meteorite impact, flood, there are still a lot of arguments on how it really happened, but the fact is they failed to adapt to the changes and became extinct.

· Bacteria have been designed to be adaptable. Their surrounding layers and their genetic information are actually capable of alteration.

· Flies have been around for 10,000 to 15,000 years. They have hair to keep them warm, they can eat anything, and they can live anywhere.

· The dodo birds lived on an Island. They could not fly and they built their nest on the ground, this made them very vulnerable. Since the birds were easy to capture, colonists soon consumed most of the dodo population. Animals they brought with them, especially dogs, cats, and pigs, ate the fledglings and broke the dodo eggs to consume the yolks. They were not built for survival. They could not adapt. They did not survive.

· The crocodiles have been around for millions of years. They have a sturdy constitution and do not seem to suffer from any indigestion. They also have an extraordinary ability to go without food. They are made rough and tough and heal better than most other animals. In addition to being hale and hardy, let alone fast and fierce, crocodiles are also smart. They seem to learn quickly, particularly to avoid dangerous situations.

  • · The current shark species as we know have been around for 100 million years. Their anatomy has been improved over those million years of evolution. Sharks have undergone two major adaptation phases and survived at least five mass extinctions that many other creatures did not. Sharks are able to adapt to different environments.

  • · The old, the very young, the sickly, the slow… those are the animals that get attacked by predators. Their lack of ability to stick with the rest of the herd during a dangerous situation will prevent their survival.

I see a pattern here, do you?

The fundamental law that governs this world is CHANGE. Nature favors those organisms most capable of adapting to ever-changing conditions.

So survival of the fittest really means survival of those who are the most capable to adapt to their surroundings, circumstances. It’s about resiliency.

The ability to adapt is a critical tool for your survival. Many people can easily adjust to a wide variety of circumstances in order to deal with the different situations that can arise during their daily lives. Meanwhile, others will remain unyielding and go into extreme denial because they dislike change and prefer the familiarity of their established routine.

Change is not always comfortable. Change is not always fun. But there are times when it is necessary and inevitable.

By having confidence in your abilities during a crisis or an emergency, your ability to adapt to abrupt and life-changing events will help to make you a survivor.

People that are unable or unwilling to adapt to the changes around them are bound to decimate themselves.

Adaptability compromises a number of different traits that can help you to survive.

· Being reasonably healthy and fit

· Being reasonably intelligent

· Being flexible

Those are not only physical attributes but mental and emotional aspect should be just as strong. A balance state is always the strongest.

Not everything always go your way. If you let it crush you mentally, you are doomed. You have to be able to accept challenges and obstacles coming your way.

You also need to avoid going into a state of denial that will not allow you to adapt properly to your circumstances. You are only fooling yourself if you refuse to accept that your situation has changed because of a crisis or an emergency. It is our ability to adapt to our environment that has allowed us to survive some of the most hazardous and extreme conditions known to man.

You also have to be able to adapt physically. You cannot let diseases, injuries, and other physical dangers harm you to the point of no return. Just like the bacteria, shark and crocodile are able to conform to the need of their environment so do you. Hence why a reasonable amount of fitness and health is required.

All living things have to make adaptations to survive in their environment.

If the environment/ circumstances change and you can't adapt, you can't survive.

How does this applies specifically to self defense? You may have train for a specific purpose. You may have rehearsed different scenarios, different settings or set of circumstances that may apply to you. This is fantastic. But not everything always goes according to plan. You need to be able to adapt to a particular situation. If something is not working, you have to be flexible and be able to adapt and switch to something that works. This is another reason why learning principle based self defense versus just learning techniques may just save your life. Principles will apply to just about anything. Specific techniques may fail you depending on the circumstances.

Remember, survival of the fittest does not mean survival of the strongest physically but of the strongest mentally and emotionally as well. Some of the smallest creatures have survived and thrived despised their circumstances or environment. They made it work for them. Make it work for you!

What are you doing to survive and adapt?

Be smart, stay safe!!!


  1. Key word of the day: adaptability. I like that.