I guess it comes down to how long one has been training. Once you begin, the first priority should be to learn how to defend yourself against an unskilled attacker as that is the most likely threat.This can take some time depending on natural skill and talent and any relevant experience. It took me some time when I began on this journey as I had no idea whatsoever.
Most Likely Threat First
This involves both the physical aspect such as punching, pushing, evading, throwing etc as well as having a basic knowledge of the two types of threat being the Alpha Male and the Predator so strategies for dealing with each can be applied through avoidance and de-escalation.
Once proficiency has been gained here, what is next? Once we can defend ourselves, isn't that it?
More Advanced Combative Skill
- Fight skills are more advanced that simply defending and countering an attack. This involves being able to go up against a skilled fighter in a one on one fight. This is much harder than defeating some scum bag on the street. This is the next step up the ladder. During this phase of training, principles such as 'Aliveness' will be core with things such as alive drilling and sparring.
- Stress testing of all learnt skills is done through advanced sessions which on the surface look like the above but much more pressure is applied both mentally and physically. Its one thing to spar in a relaxed learning environment but another thing altogether to spar when under hard pressure against one fresh opponent then another fresh opponent and so on. It involves stepping outside your comfort zone or being pushed out of it. This is just one example of stress testing.
- Scenario training is a form of more advanced stress testing. In a way it is more specific. It aims to more closely replicate the environment and situation that a likely encounter will happen in. It involves role players and starts at the pre-attack stage of an encounter. Much training neglects this fundamental aspect of combat. What happens during the pre-attack determines what happens in the attack stage, much like the real thing.
Further Skills and Areas
Once proficiency has been gained in direct low tech combat skills, supplementary skills should be learnt:
- Advanced first aid is a priority. If you can cause damage, you should be able to treat damage. I guess it is the TMA past coming out here but it is very Yin Yang. It is also a good balancing skill to have. Advanced first aid includes treating burns, fractures, bleeding as well as resuscitation methods. You never know, it may just save someone's life one day.
- Home security and home security awareness. Do you have the numbers of utilities and the local police station up on the wall near the phone or on your mobile? Do you have a peep hole through your front door? What will you do if someone claims to be from the electricity department and wants to talk to about some matter relating to the electrical supply and wants to come inside? Where is your home most vulnerable to forced entry? Do you know where that is and what have you done to strengthen it?
- Awareness and the 'soft skills'. Do you know what the threats are when you are out and about? What would be the physical indicators that may give early warning of such attacks? Do you know the colour codes of awareness, as these are a good place to start?
- Security when overseas. What is the threat in the country you are going to? Who are the main groups and what are their goals? How can you limit your attractiveness to these groups and fly under their radar? Simple things like not wearing your expensive watch and other accessories, not flashing a lot of cash around at shops and toning down the clothing are all universal tactics to limit the attention of a countries underbelly.
- Your Health should be looked after. Why go to all the trouble to learn how to defend ourself for years and years, in order to live a long and drama free life, when we let our health deteriorate and die at the age of 45 from a heart attack? Pointless. So how healthy are you?
The above examples are not exhaustive. There is a lot to learn for a martial artist. Learning how to defend ourselves is really only the beginning. Once direct combatives skills have been attained, for sure, we continue the training, but other so called 'softer' skills come into development and action as some have been mentioned.
So when is a martial artist complete? Are we ever really there? Probably not. I think at some point these soft skills actually blur into the arena of Security Risk Management. Except it is being applied to our own activities and our own facilities (our home).
On top of the above the domain of weapons use has been omitted. As has been seen in previous articles regarding the most likely attack on street, weapon use and in particular the knife, blunt impact weapon and in the U.S. the handgun, need to be trained for as they are a very relevant threat.
Another area left out here has been multiple attackers. And keep in mind that you are more likely to face three attackers than two!
There is a lot to learn...