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EXCLUSIVE: Kris 'Tanto' Paronto's Advice for Developing Physical and Mental Toughness for Self-Defense

By: Teresa Mull

Kris 'Tanto' Paronto is a former Army Ranger and one of the heroes of the tragic attack in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.

Paronto, according to the bio on his website, “has deployed throughout South America, Central America, the Middle East and North Africa. He also worked with the US Government’s Global Response Staff conducting low profile security in high threat environments throughout the world.

“Mr. Paronto was part of the CIA annex security team that responded to the terrorist attack on the US Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya, September 11th, 2012, helping to save over 20 lives while fighting off terrorists from the CIA Annex for over 13 hours. Mr. Paronto’s story is told in the book ‘13 Hours’ written by Mitchell Zuckoff and his five surviving annex security team members.”

Paronto is also the author ‘The Ranger Way,’ in which he “shares stories from his training experiences that played a role in his team's heroic response in Benghazi as he explains the importance of demanding excellence when you commit to improving your life. He shows you how to define your mission, set goals that are in alignment with your values, and develop a battle plan that will maximize your chances of success. You will learn why you should never quit and why that is different from never failing.”

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GPM editor Teresa Mull chatting with Tanto at SHOT Show 2019.

Gunpowder Magazine caught up with “Tanto” at SHOT Show 2019 and got exclusive advice for GPM readers about how to train smarter to be in the best possible physical and mental shape for self-defense.

GPM: Could you tell us how to get and stay in shape mentally and physically, and how that helps prepare a person for self-defense?

Paronto “It goes hand in hand. If you’re confident in yourself, and as much as people don’t like to say it, appearance does breed confidence, it does. I’m a runner – running is pain, and you’re on your own, and you have to keep going. That conditions your mind to become tough: to overcome adversity, to overcome pain, overcome that next mile, which breeds mental toughness.

“And you have to be mentally tough if you get in a self-defense situation. God-forbid anybody’s ever in a Benghazi situation, but even just a threat when you’re going to Target, you may get hit, and you may be caught at a disadvantage if you have to react and you don’t have that mental toughness, which is bred by physical activity.

“If you push yourself in the gym -- or I advise everyone to go run. That’s mental toughness right there. If you have that mental toughness, then you can overcome whatever setback. You will be reactive, if you’re caught off-guard, you can fight back and win the fight or stop the threat.

GPM: Running is the worst! How can I get better at it?

Paronto “Don’t push yourself too far too fast. I tell people who start running – they go try to run five miles the first day – you’re going to quit, because you think, ‘oh my gosh, this hurts! My lungs are burning!’ Well, yeah, that’s a part of running.

"Start slow. Do half a mile. Then do three-quarters of a mile. Then do a mile. Then pick up the pace every once in a while. You don’t have to run hard all the time. In fact, even people who run, you run hard, you get your heart rate up, one time a week. That’s it. Everything else: just put miles in. Get some headphones. I like running with headphones."

GPM: What music do you listen to while you run?

Paronto “I listen to different things. I have my workout mix, which has Five Finger Death Punch and Linkin Park, but I also love my happy playlist. That’s Justin Timberlake, that’s George Michael, Michael Bublé. I love Michael Bublé. Honestly, that picks me up more than the workout playlist, which is the anger stuff. I listen to my old R&B stuff – songs that pick you up. People think all us gun shooters just listen to hate music – no. My favorite artist is George Michael. I love his music – it’s fun. And who doesn’t love Wham! It’s what I grew up with.

“So just little by little by little. Don’t overdo it at one point. Push yourself one time a week. I’m not a big CrossFitter, but you can pull stuff out of CrossFit. Kettle bells are great. Get that heart rate up quick. Go to the track every once in a while. Walk a lap, run a lap. Walk a lap, run a lap. If you’ve done it for about 30 minutes, you’ve gone three miles, and you really don’t feel like you’ve worked out.”

Teresa Mull is editor of Gunpowder Magazine. Contact her at teresa@gunpowdermagazine.com.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Gunpowder Magazine.