You Get What You Train For

Three Second Fighter by Geoff Thompson

I was recently reading a part of the book Three Second Fighter by Geoff Thompson and came across a very telling quote:

You get what you train for.”

What this boils down to is that your reaction on the street is going to reflect your training. What you do the most on the mat or on the range is what you will do when the pressure is on.

Extending this principle you can assume that if you train two different solutions for one problem, the one you train the most is the one you will naturally use under pressure. With this assumption in mind, can we assign any value to training the additional solutions?

The case for multiple solutions

Assuming multiple solutions work for slightly different problems in the same problem space, then yes there is some value to the multiple solutions approach. Sometimes your conditioned response to an attack just won’t work, and you will need to fall back to any alternatives you have practiced. Keep in mind that any initial response to an attack works best if it is a non-diagnostic skill, i.e. no decisions required.

Some situations lend themselves to multiple solutions much better than others. For example long distance shooting often allows much more time for thinking. Where clearer heads prevail reliably, you can afford to build in choices. On the other hand, knowing and training 5 different default positions is counter productive for all but those resigned to nothing but teaching.

The case against multiple solutions

The unfortunate reality is, however, that most defensive problems do not allow thinking. Multiple overlapping solutions to a problem levy a tax on your ability to defend yourself. The deeper the decision tree, the longer it takes to respond and the more likely you are to fail.

If you always default to one of those solutions, you will also find that any effort placed into training the unused alternatives is wasted energy. The only exception here is if you enjoy training for training’s sake. Take the default position as an example. I should have a single, automatic default position every time I react to a sudden surprising attack. In-depth study and practice of 4 more default positions doesn’t make me more prepared, but instead might cloud my reaction. If I won’t use the other positions why practice them?

Ultimately balance is needed. In some cases training multiple overlapping skills can be a waste of energy. If you train for the sake of entertainment, then this is less of an issue. Overlapping skills can work very well, as is evidenced by some very successful competitive fighters, but they do require a much higher initial investment.

Also keep in mind that studying alternatives always has value. If you attend a seminar and are exposed to a new default position, try it out in that class. Maybe you find it works better and it becomes a replacement for your current solution. Remember that this is different than continued rigorous training of multiple skills that will compete for your focus.

What is your take? How do you feel about multiple overlapping skills, and do you train any? Please join the discussion by posting a comment below!

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