Do You Train Fight Avoidance Skills?

Photo Credit: danielcruz

Photo Credit: danielcruz

Recently Dann from the God, Gals, Guns, Grub Blog posted a comment on my post: Can Competition Really Get You Killed?:

 

Competition is good for developing certain skills, but as for preparation for real life… when the man says, “Shooter ready? … Stand by…” “BEEEEP”… and the shooter leaves his or her gun in the holster, turns and walks away from the stage therefore winning a gun fight by avoiding it… then, maybe we’ll be getting closer…

 

This comment really got me thinking… how many people really invest any time into fight avoidance skills? It isn’t really all that glamorous to practice talking and maneuvering your way out of a fight, but I would think that of any fighting-related skill, avoidance would be the one most likely to be exercised in real life.

I’m definitely all for training any pre-fight skills, but what about you? Furthermore, what classes, trainers, and methods work the best for training these skills? Please post a comment and share your opinion!

Its Not Over Until The Ref Calls It

Photo Credit: Dan4th

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:

  1. Never play gun or knife tag with ‘one hit kills’.

  2. Don’t drop your guard immediately after scoring a hit (or after the match is called). Wait until you determine everything is safe.

  3. In training exercises have a third party determine when the fight ends (and avoid the forcefields phenomena).

  4. 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.

5 Ways to Stay Motivated

Photo Credit: Jeremy Botter

What is the hardest part of training? I adamantly believe that it is staying motivated. Practicing and learning are relatively easy, but convincing yourself day after day to keep training, to do one more rep and push yourself a little further can be hard to do.

How many times have you started getting ready to go to the gym and decided not to? Or found some sort of excuse why you couldn’t dry fire today? Excuses are easy to find, especially when motivation is at its lowest.

I don’t have all the answers and can fall into many of these traps myself, but here are some tricks that have helped me to keep motivated and trudging on.

Find ways to make measurable progress (if only small)

Progress is the best motivator in the world. If you are able to do 10 pushups today and 11 pushups tomorrow, you have evidence that you are making progress. When you see progress you see the fruits of your labor and it makes any of the pain and suffering worth it.

When you lose sight of progress, or it becomes too small to measure day to day or week to week, you are destined to lose motivation. When you aren’t succeeding every day why keep going?

The best way to keep motivated is to keep making progress.

If you are working on a skill or exercise that requires significant time and dedication to reach the next milestone, this can be difficult to see. Make your progress more obvious by finding intermediate milestones.

Maybe this means adding smaller amounts of weight to a weight routine, adding repetitions or even decreasing the length of time for your workout. With shooting skills, finding measurable progress might require you to start using calipers to measure your groups or investing in a shot timer.

If you see progress you will be less likely to tell yourself to skip training.

Set achievable goals

Connected to the idea of measurable progress is achievable goals. You may have big goals set that are very difficult to achieve. Rather than struggle for potentially years to achieve these goals, set some intermediate goals that you know you can achieve.

If you set a goal to become rated Master in IDPA for example, perhaps setting your sights on Expert or Sharpshooter are more easily attainable for you. Strive for the reachable goals so you get an opportunity to pat yourself on the back for achieving your goal.

Leave yourself reminders

Sometimes motivation is about remembering why you want to train. Or even that you should train.

A great way to stay motivated is to find ways not to forget the reasons you want to train. Place a sticky note on your bathroom mirror. Maybe all it says is go train. Or it could have your goals written on it. Either way, seeing your goals every day should inspire you to keep training, even when you don’t feel like it.

Train with others

Another method for staying motivated is to train with others. When you are weak, your friends will pick you back up. When you are strong you pick your friends back up.

Even better is the desire not to show weakness in front of your friends. We all perform better with an audience if for no other reason than we are a competitive species. You want to avoid losing motivation? Form a training group.

Don’t allow yourself to give up

Tricks can help you to stay motivated, but sometimes it is just about willpower. Work on building the mindset to keep training and not to give in to the temptation of quitting or taking it easy. Treat the desire to quit as the inspiration not to.

You want to quit, therefore you can’t.

It should be your goal to build that never quitting attitude required to succeed (and reach your other goals).

Motivation is difficult to find at times. You might have had a rough day at work, or you might be tired or sore from another training session. You might feel a little sick or have allergies, or maybe the AC is broken.

At times like these, tell yourself to suck it up and get back to training. Use the tricks if you need them and tell yourself not to give in.

What My Back Injury Can Teach Us About Training

Photocredit colinedwards99

Several weeks ago I managed to hurt my back doing something as silly as attempting to assemble a new TV stand. This back injury managed to put a huge damper on all of my training efforts besides dry-fire.

Any sort of movement was difficult in karate with an injured back and strength training was nearly impossible. As a result I spent two weeks working on dry-fire and trying hard not to re-injure myself.

Last week I got back to strength training for the first time after that two week forced ‘break’.

The results of that first workout were not exactly what I had hoped for. Over the course of the workout I managed to perform approximately 25% fewer repetitions than I did prior to the break.

That’s a loss of at least 25% of my strength after only a two week period.

I can’t say that this made me happy, but I do believe that we have many opportunities to learn in training, and even injuries provide those opportunities. What did I learn from injuring myself?

Successful training requires a consistent unrelenting effort

Just like climbing a very steep hill, you have an opportunity to move forward (and upwards) or to slide back down.

Any type of training requires constant effort. It often is less about the duration of the practice session so much as it is about the amount of time between practice sessions. Train more often for less time, and you’ll find two things:

  1. You will get more out of each training session

  2. Your skills will always be fresher because the last time you trained will be more recent

The quality of your skills and the efficiency of your reaction to an event will always be dependent on the length of the time since your last training session.

An extreme example

Just for the sake of argument, let’s take an extreme example. Let’s say you commit to training one hour every week for a year. That might be three 20 minute sessions, or just one block each week.

In a parallel universe, an alternate you commits to a single tortuous training session of 52 hours of constant training over the course of a week, and be done for the entire year.

Which case gets you the most for your training efforts?

In the universe where you train for one week all at once, you will likely make significant gains over the course of that week. There is something to be said for making a short concentrated effort, and total immersion. If you couldn’t learn and make huge gains in a short period, weekend classes wouldn’t be anywhere near as popular as they are.

When a year has passed, do you think those skills will still be fresh? Probably not. I would expect to drop far below the peak of your performance that you reached during that one week of training.

On the other hand, training for an hour a week might net you smaller gains with each session. The trade-off, however, is that at any given point during the year, the longest time since your last training session is only a matter of days.

Instead of one huge spike in performance followed by a long slide down, you get many small spikes with a reduced loss.

Training is an investment

Training is a lot like an investment, and every training session is like collecting interest. Do you remember high-school math where you learned about the benefits of compound interest? The more frequently you compound your interest, the better your rate works for you and the bigger your overall gain.

Rather than make the same or similar gains every session, your goal is to make gains on top of your previous gains. Reduce the time between sessions and you can spend more time gaining every session instead of rebuilding what you gained last time.

Ultimately training requires consistent unyielding effort. Training hard but infrequently serves you little. Instead, break up your training into many smaller sessions and reap the benefits.

What is your training schedule like? Do you train daily, weekly, or monthly? Join the conversation and post a comment below.

Best of the Web 5/18/12

Another week, and some more great posts.  Here are my favorites from the past 7 days.

Mental Performance Blocks (gunnuts.net) – Caleb discusses a topic very near and dear to my heart.  I think most of the time that I perform poorly it has more to do with overconfidence or psyching myself out than a lack of skills.

Don’t Shoot .357 (thetruthaboutguns.com) – Have I mentioned that I don’t think revolvers are a very good defensive weapon?  Sure they can be good in the right hands, but here is yet another reason why you should just ignore the revolver when selecting a defensive weapon.  Many extol the virtues and the power of .357, but it comes down to being a difficult round to shoot.  If you are going to bring a revolver to the fight, at least use .38 special.

Training with a DA trigger (gunnuts.net) – A second good posts from Caleb this week… this one is about the double action trigger.  There are a lot of beliefs out there that a double action/single action pistol makes training more difficult than with a gun that has a consistent trigger pull like a striker fired gun for example.  Caleb tries to debunk this myth.  While he makes some good points, I think most DA/SA guns have a DA trigger pull that borderlines on ridiculous, making DA/SA a liability when you need to hit quickly the first time.

 

 

Train Like It’s Your Last Day To Train

Photo Credit: U.S. Army

Every day of training tends to be a little different. Sometimes we work on precise skills, other times we work on strength or other physically demanding training. Some of these days are easy, and others are not quite so easy.

One common thread ties all of these training sessions together. You should be training like it is your last day to train. There is only now.

Training should never be lackadaisical. Every time you train, it is potentially your last opportunity to practice before the unthinkable happens. Make every session count.

Since every session might be your last, you have two responsibilities to yourself when you train:

Firstly, don’t waste a single opportunity for improvement. Don’t just go through the motions, instead put 100% of your concentration and focus into every repetition you practice. If you can only set aside a limited amount of time to train, then make every second count. Wasting time is fine when you are doing something of limited importance – training to defend yourself does not fall in that category.

Secondly, don’t let fatigue or discomfort slow you down or stop you. Whenever you hit that wall of fatigue or maybe even pain, take this an opportunity to build mental toughness. No one ever got anywhere by taking it easy in life. Work through the discomfort and fatigue and keep pushing on.

When it really matters, you won’t have the opportunity to stop for a breather or to go half as hard. Not only should every training session be like the last you’ll ever have, but every single repetition should be like the last. There is only now.

When it gets tough, dig deep and keep going. You have only two options when the chips are down: succeed or fail. Don’t take the second option.

Best of the Web 5/11/12

Another week, and some more great posts.  Here are my favorites from the past 7 days.

Priorities (pistol-training.com) – Todd touches on a point that I strongly agree with.  Performance is good, but reliability needs to be there as well.  I think this applies for both equipment and skills.  If your equipment provides superb performance when it works, but only works a small percentage of the time, was the tradeoff worth it?  Consistency and reliability are prerequisites to performance.

Will vs Skill (thetruthaboutguns.com) – Paul Markel wrote a great post for The Truth About Guns about mindset.  The short version is that the will to succeed is more valuable than skills that aren’t backed up by the right mindset.  I can’t agree more.  High stress, high pressure training techniques help push us so we can find those weak spots in both our training and our willpower.

 

Training Like it’s 1775

Photo by Muffet.

One of the most important days in American history (if not THE most important day) was April 19th 1775. Tomorrow is the 237th anniversary of the battles of Lexington and Concord.

Why is this date so important? To me it’s important because it was the turning point, the spark that set things in motion to give us the nation we have today. A bunch of farmers and shop keepers faced the impossible and succeeded in defeating a professional army that came to take their arms. These dedicated individuals risked it all and made many sacrifices so that today we have our rights (relatively) unmolested.

There is no other country in the world where civilians can own firearms and use them the way they can here. Where else in the world can you find civilians learning to shoot on military bases from other civilians, or training with the tactical gear that is so ubiquitous today? Can you name another country where that happens? If you can, I’m sure you can count all of them on one hand.

I would like to point out that those farmers from 1775 secured their rights using skills that they trained diligently. Sure the state of the art was definitely much different. You wouldn’t see anyone in those days practicing transitions to sidearms, but they trained hard and often. One of my favorite heroes of the day, Isaac Davis, led his men in training twice weekly on a range he built behind his blacksmith shop.

The odds were against them, but what gave them the slightest chance was their focus on marksmanship and practice. They didn’t just hope their muskets would work the way they wanted. They didn’t assume that cocking a hammer or just the mere presence of their weapon would scare their enemy. They prepared for the worst.

Their preparation helped them win the day.

Remember as you go about your day tomorrow:

If you enjoy your right to bear arms, and for that matter to train with them, keep in mind the reasons why you have these rights. These men felt it was worth fighting and dying to protect these rights. If you give them up freely, then all that bloodshed was for nothing.

And remember that in 1775, training is what carried the day. Training has won many wars throughout history, because superior equipment can only get you so far. It is the individual who pulls the trigger, wields the sword, or throws the punch and the time they spend training that matters.

I’m Not Here To Tell You What You Want To Hear

Photo by Lisa Padilla

I’m starting to realize something that scares me. Of all the millions of gun owners, and millions of martial artists, how many of us really train with the right mindset? Think about the instructors out there, whether the high-speed low drag types or the 27th degree grand master of whatever. Many of these instructors are out there teaching what people want to hear instead of what they need to hear. After all, giving people what they want is what pays, and money talks.

Most of the world seems fixated on the idea that everything will turn out alright if you do a certain dance or have some special tool. Take a bad-ass self-defense course and you’ll become so awesome that bad guys are going to start falling out of windows just because you looked at them. You too can dodge bullets if you take the right class and get the right ‘training’.

Martial artists are the same way. If someone grabs your wrist (clearly not punching you in the face with the other) all you need to do is turn this way slightly… look how easy that is. Not only does your attacker stop what he is doing, but he pulls out a cell phone to call the police and confess.

All of this stuff is bullshit. And I have a feeling most of you reading this agree if you take your training seriously.  The real world isn’t all candy canes and gum drops.

Yet people eat this stuff up. Shooters are constantly looking for the perfect piece of equipment for an across the board solution. They seek classes taught by “experts” that will give them the entire set of skills needed to survive in any situation. No other training required – who has the time?

The only reason I can think of as to why people fall for the “too good to be true” is that this is what they want to hear. People don’t want to know that the world is a scary place. They don’t want to hear that they are not prepared, or their skills are insufficient. They don’t want to know that thousands of hours of training could still result in some crack-head putting a round in you, not because he’s a bad ass, but because you are that unlucky. Even high-speed low drag operators can get shot.

When you look at the ‘training’ world this way, it’s frightening. Why would you want to think about the fact that you are vulnerable? Human life is relatively fragile, but we all want to be indestructible. With the right tools and training, no one can hurt us right?

This mindset may help people if life is good and we don’t end up in a life-threatening situation. But this same mindset will get you killed if you do end up there. Sure there are plenty of cases where some lucky guy with a dusty shotgun he has yet to fire wins the day and becomes a hero, but do you really want to rely on luck?

I would rather train hard every day. Blood, sweat, and tears won’t make you indestructible. But if you train hard, and focus on making your training as bullet proof as you can, you MIGHT have a chance. I’d rather take the realistic chance than the unrealistic guarantee any day.

I hope you would too.

The Quick Fix

Photo by Bob Rosenbaum

Not a day goes by without some offer of a quick fix solution somewhere on the internet. People peddle their online and DVD courses with claims that they will make you invincible. They might as well make claims that they can teach you to dodge bullets and kill people by looking at them.

What’s worse is that people buy into it.

There is no quick fix solution. No item you can buy or carry will protect you on the street, and no 1 hour course or DVD is going to magically give you the skills you need to make you an invulnerable harbinger of death.

Preparing to defend yourself is hard work. It requires countless hours of practice, buckets of sweat, bruises, blood, cuts, scratches, and a hell of a lot of soreness the next day.

Why are people so drawn to these claims of magical courses and tools?

I can only assume that as with most areas of our lives, we are drawn to the easy solution. Why work hard when I can just buy something to do the work for me? Why break a sweat when I can become an expert by watching something on my DVD player?

People are foolish and become drawn to the easy way out. This is the same reason why we have seen so many ponzi and pyramid schemes. You mean I can get rich and people will just send me money and all I need to do is X? Sure I’ll do it!

Don’t get drawn into these schemes. If you don’t need to work hard to get something, can it really be worth it? Avoid throwing your money away to some guy you just met on the internet.

WP Like Button Plugin by Free WordPress Templates