I'm going to present some ideas for training regimes where the goal is to be prepared for the most likely of scenarios one may find themselves in as well as being prepared for some less likely though potentially more dangerous scenarios.
The ideas below will be geared for conflict in low tech combat. For my ideas on what low tech combat is, click here for a previous entry.
The 3 Pathways
There are generally three pathways that need developing. They are academic, RBSD and MMA. My previous blog on the full spectrum of low tech combat explaining how the various aspects fit together can be seen here .
The academic pathway refers to the reading of books, participating in forums and doing courses where you can learn about the pre attack stage and the physiological and psychological effects of violence and stress on the body.
The pre attack stage covers such things as an awareness of high risk times and places, key indicators for detecting a possible attacker, de-escalation strategies being both verbal and physical including body language and home security and personal security principles. There are many many aspects of low tech combat that does not involve an actual physical encounter.
Another area of study is what to do after being engaged in low tech combat. This includes aspects of first aid including advanced first aid and legal considerations. These are suitable topics for study in the academic pathway.
Another area for academic study is the study of past warrior cultures such as the samurai in Japan, the Spartans of Greece or even commandos during WWII. Study in this area can give perspective, be a great source of motivation and may help further instill and develop the warrior mindset.
Anytime and Anywhere
This academic pathway can be pursued at your own leisure. There are numerous excellent books covering the subjects listed above and reading a book on a subject you are interested in is much easier than reading one which is not of interest.
There are also seminars and audio-visual (DVD, VHS) packages which contain lectures and discussions on these matters. This academic pathway can be pursued at your own individual pace and leisure and can be a valuable use of time when travelling by air or instead of watching television amongst many other times.
Reality Based Self Defence
The next pathway of development for someone intent on learning about low tech combat is Reality Based Self Defence (RBSD). RBSD deals with the pre attack stage of conflict along with the first few seconds of the actual conflict.
A good RBSD system will also deal with some areas covered in the academic pathway such as utilising the key indicators of a possible attacker and using effective de-escalation strategies. This is achieved by using trained role players in realistic scenarios.
These scenarios link what is learned academically to applying it in stressful realistic scenarios. This is the main benefit of good RBSD systems. It also makes the study of the physiological and psychological effects of combat very real and actually aims to stimulate these same feelings of real low tech combat by engaging in very realistic and fear inducing scenarios with trained role players which operate by themselves or as 'multiple attackers'.
Rapid Learning under Pressure?
RBSD systems claim people can be taught up to a level of proficiency in only days. They claim that due to teaching only methods that work under the condition of high stress (such as gross motor movements and utilise natural human reflexes), they are reliable under stress which is the environment of a real encounter.
They also claim that learning and experience when under this stress short circuits the time needed, as by the end of a course, students will generally already be applying their techniques under stress, thus negating the need to perform thousands of repetition's in order to develop muscle memory.
I am offering the opinion that it is important to do at least one good RBSD course or seminar a year. These skills need refreshing and like most skills, are perishable. If possible I would recommend two, three or even four if you are lucky enough to have that many run near you and can manage the time and finances.
Some areas are lucky enough to have RBSD sessions weekly which is a great idea if this is your situation. Generally these will not be as in depth as the comprehensive courses but will condition you to regularly consider the pre attack and into the initial physical aspects of low tech combat.
Experience Fear in Training
The good courses stimulate very real emotions and the experience gained by attending these cannot be understated. The elements of fear, apprehension and simply fear of the unknown are often missing in day to day training. Step outside of your comfort zone and attend at least one of these courses per year.
The bulk of your training should be made up of the combat sports. These are systems where you will regularly and routinely be forced to deal with a live human opponent who is fighting back at you up to 100%.
Generally the activities of these systems focus on learning a technique, drilling it in various realistic ways, then sparring or wrestling or both. It is this process which is geared towards applying what you know against a resisting opponent that makes it so special.
This aspect of low tech combat takes the longest amount of time to develop by far. Regardless of how long it takes, it is essential. There no shortcuts here. You cannot hide when you are engaged in prolonged one on one combat.
As a rule (though like many rules are not absolute), the person with the highest skill/ability will always win. The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (bjj) brown belt will always defeat the bjj blue belt. The experienced boxer will always beat the new guy off the street. These systems teach how to apply technique on a resisting and mobile opponent! The many variations and level of skill required is what makes it take so long to learn.
Capable Regularly and Routinely
This skill is readily observed and is very real. For example, walk into any wrestling or Thai boxing gym. Ask the head trainer who the top guys are then watch a class. The top guys will be in control 99% of the time. This is repeatable.
Come back the next day and the next. This is perhaps how the true skill is measured. It is the ability to regularly and routinely be able to control, and if required defeat your opponent. The partners are trying things, using strength, set-ups or trying to be quicker but it doesn't matter. At the end of the day, it is skill that matters.
Its all in the Training Methods
It is the combat sports that have developed one on one combat to the highest levels. These systems have developed training systems that allow for realistic combat, safely! This is the secret to these systems success.
Training in these systems is the most efficient use of your time if developing person to person combat skills is the goal. They have developed excellent training methods due partly to competition. Fighters regularly compete in the ring.
The Strong Survive
This is a test of the techniques and methods. The strong survive. If a system does not work, that system will pass by the wayside. The successful methods are adopted and further improved upon.
To be well rounded takes time and a little planning. Today, it is widely accepted that it is foolish to not train in standing and ground skills. On top of that, clinch range needs to be included as well.
Everyone knows what systems are more effective at what aspect of low tech combat. It is a personal choice as to what you decide to learn, follow what interests you. Another positive for the combat sports is that they are an excellent foundation skill.
Attributes developed doing MMA are easily transferred into weapons training and RBSD multiple attack scenarios. The same cannot be said of either RBSD or weapons training.
I would recommend at least 3 days a week, preferably 5 days spent training in the combat sports. To be well rounded you may have to practise at more than one gym, or maybe focus on one area for while then move onto another. A Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) gym may combine numerous aspects of low tech combat into one gym.
Putting it all Together
On top of the above, time should be found for weapons training and conditioning as well. No-one said it would be easy or there is a short cut.
So in conclusion here is my opinion on what may best be described as the ideal low tech combat regime:
- Read at least one book or find one seminar or lecture a month relating to the academic pursuit of low tech combat
- Participate in at least one RBSD course per year and local weekly RBSD sessions if available
- 3-5 days a week of combat sport sessions such as MMA
- 3-5 days a week of conditioning sessions
- Weapons training can be personalised to seminars, DVDs, private lessons or regular classes
The next challenge is finding somewhere to go to blend all of the above into the one place!