Sometimes in training there is a tendency to get wrapped up in the training environment. Exercises begin and end on someone’s say so or some arbitrary and artificial win condition that does not reflect the real world. This is evident in the occasional tournament fighter who lands what seems like a good blow to only let their guard down and get knocked out.
On the street things are never quite so simple and clear cut. Regardless of the caliber you carry, most people don’t immediately fly backwards or crumple when hit with a pistol round. There are also numerous cases of someone being stabbed repeatedly to continue fighting, only realizing later that they were being stabbed not punched. Nothing is guaranteed to end a fight immediately.
It isn’t over… until it is over
In the real world, how do you determine that the fight is over? Pretty much the same way you might in competition. When the referee shows up and calls it. If you are assaulted and defend yourself, you can’t let your guard down just because you think you solved the problem. That problem might have friends (or you didn’t really solve the problem). In these situations you need to stay vigilant and ready until help arrives or you are far from the situation. In effect when the referee calls the fight.
Avoiding bad habits
Since the fight doesn’t end when you successfully tag your opponent or make a single hit, you need to avoid this behavior in training. Don’t get me wrong, every effort you make should be made like it could end the fight, but don’t get tricked into thinking it will.
When you train for fights in the real world, there are a number of bad habits you should avoid in your training. Here are a few tips for making sure you don’t develop some of these habits through training:
Never play gun or knife tag with ‘one hit kills’.
Don’t drop your guard immediately after scoring a hit (or after the match is called). Wait until you determine everything is safe.
In training exercises have a third party determine when the fight ends (and avoid the forcefields phenomena).
Work after-action routines into any part of your training that you can.
If you make an effort to avoid bad habits you’ll be much better off if you ever need your defensive skills. Good training is about consistency. Train with a consistent and realistic end point.
Consistently practice after-action skills like scanning and assessing your environment.
Remember, don’t get fooled into a false sense of security thinking that your knife or gun might stop the fight immediately and decisively. They theoretically can, but more likely you will be struggling for a while. Don’t let your guard down until the scene is secure. That means either putting distance between you and the scene, or relinquishing the scene to the authorities. The fight isn’t over until the refs call it.