Our Training Has Flaws…On Purpose!

Some self defense training is better than others but ALL training has flaws. The flaws are built in on purpose. Think about it, we are training to beat down someone until they are no longer a threat. How often do we do this in training? Never. It is truly like teaching people to swim but never getting in a pool.

We must have built in flaws, but we must recognize that they are flaws. One of the most unrealistic things in our training is our training partner. The person attacking you in the gym is a partner who is there for your mutual benefit. They want you to be able to go to work tomorrow, want you to train with them next week, care about you and looks out for you. This is not the same person that will be attacking you on the street. The exact opposite type of person will be attacking us on the street!

When we accidently do make contact with our partner in the gym what is it that we usually do? We stop and apologize. This isn’t the reaction we should be ingraining!

We train too often with pre conceived notions of what will work and what will happen in a fight. How do we know that those knees or that elbow would have been devastating in a fight? He may well get up and come at us harder. In the real world people take pool cues to the head, stabs to the heart, multiple gun shots to the chest, etc. and keep coming. “I kicked you in the balls, you would have went down and been done”. This may be a true statement but I’m not willing to bet my life on it.

In the gym we purposely pull our punches and kicks to not make contact. Again, what kind of training is that when the goal is to kick and punch people hard? If we pull our combatives 1,000 times in training under stress we will probably do exactly what we practiced. I had a high school kid who every time in training for a head lock defense would smack his partner on the thigh instead of the groin. I am sure that his partner appreciated this but the one time he had to do it for real when someone put him in a headlock at school he hit the attacker on the thigh. The defense still worked fine, he was just upset that the groin strike didn’t come out of him. I had the discussion with him that whatever we train is going to come out of us when it’s for real.

We fight in a gym that we keep open, padded and uncluttered for safety. In the Real world there are obstacles everywhere! My good friend and retired police sergant, Brannon Hicks, swears that he is going to bring coffee tables and shrubs into his gym. He says that it seems like every time he had to fight with someone on the streets one of those two things were and the way! The difference between a hazard and a gift is who sees it first. We need to train to see that curb or corner of the bar and use it…our gyms don’t have these things!

The old adage “you fight like you train” is a lie unless (as SGT Rory Miller says in his books) you trained blind, deaf, stupid and clumsy. There is no great way to totally prepare for the chemical dump, emotions, freeze, etc. that a real world violent attack will create. We cannot totally train for what is coming…that’s just the way it is.

Training for life and death is what we are doing, forgetting about the in betweens. It could be life, it could be death, it could also be a colostomy bag, a wheelchair for life, blinded, brain damaged, etc., etc. We train with Hollywood in mind way too often!

How do we mitigate these training flaws?:
-In class, always hit targets, pads and bags your absolute hardest.
-Forget techniques. Train your flinch reactions …go hard, go forward, go crazy!
-Train how you want to perform!
-Put everything under exhaustion and stress.
– Don’t waste time on anything that doesn’t totally agree with what you were teaching. In my classes we never warm up with shadowboxing. Boxing is throwing two or three punches, circling, moving in and out coming to throw two or three more punches… by the time you’re doing all of that in a violent encounter the scumbag’s buddy got there and hit you in the back of the head.

We must have a system which teaches to go from a relaxed to aggressive state without hesitation. We go hard in class and especially tests for a reason. The defense must work when we are at our worst, when we are exhausted or it isn’t a good defense. If you can pick when you are attacked, don’t be there! If we are ever attacked we’ll have a been there, done that feeling…and this keeps us from freezing!

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1 Comment

  1. I totally get this article. We can’t always train in preconceived notions because that just does not happen in real life.


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