STRESS TRAINING

I’ve blogged about putting whatever you are learning for self defense under stress and exhaustion before and how if you aren’t training that way you are learning self defense techniques…not self defense. When I first went to Krav Maga training back in ‘98 I was blown away by the drills they put us through. They were rough, exhausting, vomit inducing and yet…the coolest thing I’d ever seen. It was an epiphany for me to see the way the Israeli’s were training for real world violence. At the time I was a 4th degree black belt in an Asian martial and thought I was training self defense. What I was doing wasn’t even close. Why do we need to put techniques under exhaustion, stress, run scenarios and learn to do things when we are terrified?

Our brains have 3 basic areas. The cognitive is the logical thinking part of our brain. The Middle brain is the emotional part. The Reptilian brain is the lowest, the part where our fight/flight/freeze responses lie. Under stress, exhaustion and fright our brain functions decrease a bunch. We get put into our Reptilian brain because this is where we need to be…deciding whether we need to fight, beat feet or freeze. All we are capable of at this time are gross motor/whole body motions. Everyone, from those who have never trained to combat vets, will freeze when stress overwhelms us. The difference is those who have never trained will be stuck there and those who have trained will have a plan surface quickly.

The U.S. Rangers and other special forces soldiers do this the best. These soldiers in combat will lose function like the rest of us under stress but they will regain function much quicker because they train correctly. They are stress inoculated. In their training to ready them for combat they have had all five senses assaulted under stress. They are torn down and made to fail. After they have failed up front (the beginning of their training) the trainers now have their undivided attention. Most are tough guys who win at everything and thought they would eat the training up. They are brought to failure, every one of them, then they can be rebuilt. The next thing the trainers will work is muscle memory. When they are put under stress in real life or death situations their blood pools to their core and they will lose fine motor skills, finger movement, vision, hearing, etc. just like the rest of us under stress. They have worked their muscle memory and mental memory skills so many times that the functions of fighting, loading and firing weapons, etc. will still be able to be performed. Their formula is 1) fail/frustrate with scenario based drills, 2) slow muscle memory drills and 3) scenario based drills mimicking actual combat and the jobs they must perform.

This is what we do in Krav. We learn gross whole body movements by the numbers, slowly and precisely. We then work them with a partner slowly, then faster as we get better. Lastly we put them under realistic attack scenarios and stress inducing drills. Studies shows that a person’s brain doesn’t recognize the difference between training and real attacks when it is under stress, exhausted and in a frightened state. So it goes to reason that if any one of our gym’s members are attacked, say by a choke from behind, their brain will think they have done this for real hundreds of times and they will react. There will be no thinking or freezing, what they have done so many times before will come out of them. They will get rid of the hands on their throat and beat the attacker into the ground…without thinking. This is what they trained for and what their brain thinks they have done for real hundreds of times!

Again, when someone comes to you for self defense training they are literally putting their lives in your hands. Don’t’ teach crap from a system just because it’s your system. Train them right, put them under stress & exhaustion and let their brains live “the fight” so that if it happens on the street they have “been there and done that”. BE SAFE!

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1 Comment

  1. I’m weeping on my two black belts.


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