How To Train Dangerous Techniques

Image by thefuturistics

Last week I sent an email to my email subscribers looking for some feedback on exactly what they were looking to get from Indestructible Training. One reader, John, asked to see more on “down and dirty street fighting”. This post is my take on an aspect of training for the street, especially those ‘dirty’ techniques that aren’t usually easy to train in a cooperative environment. If you have a topic you want to hear more about hop over to the contact page and let me know. Or be like John and subscribe to get updates via email and you too can receive exclusive content and special offers.

The street is a dangerous place. A place with no rules. When confronted on the street and your life is in danger, there is no need to hold yourself to some arbitrary set of rules designed for your safety. Your adversary certainly won’t hold himself to them.

Unlike competitive martial arts where rules dominate the competition, the street tends to get a little off the beaten path. Eye gouging, shots to the groin, spitting, etc are all useful tactics on the street. The problem with many of these tactics is the difficulty you might have in practicing them. It tends to be hard to find a cooperative partner who won’t mind you gouging his eyes out.

Keep in mind that these tactics don’t always work, and cannot be the foundation for your self-defense training. Cecil Burch wrote an excellent article about dirty tactics and grappling that outlines many of the misunderstandings about dirty tactics in grappling.

How do we practice these techniques?

Most applications that we train tend to be dangerous, especially for our attacker. Therefore it is dangerous to practice those applications with full realism. I can’t shoot my training partner, and he probably wouldn’t enjoy wiping my spit from his face.

This is why in just about any type of training there is a separation of training the technique with training the application of it. In shooting I spend time on the range and dry-firing at home to build my gun handling skills, but to practice the application of self-defense I use Sims or inert trainers with a partner. This is not a perfect solution since a blue gun can’t simulate recoil, but it is a lot safer than introducing live fire to close quarters fighting.

The same applies to things like eye gouging. You can spend time practicing these techniques with an inert dummy (like a manikin, not your pal with the lowest IQ). Getting comfortable with the technique at full speed and power is important to being able to use it when you need it.

However, training techniques without any application is short sighted. Being able to practice applications against a non-cooperative adversary is key to ensuring the skill can work for you in real life. There are usually two options for working these skills with a partner. You can train full speed and power, but not strike your partner, or you can train slower with less power, and stop before hurting your partner.

Full Speed and Power

Training full speed and power with your partner usually means stopping short, or striking past your partner. This works best for things like kicks to the fronts of the knees. The benefit is that you get the effect of practicing to deliver the strike without hurting your partner. The downside is you might build a bad habit of striking short or missing your adversary.

Low Speed and Power

The other option is to go almost to full extension without fully impacting your partner. For example with an eye gouge I can execute the technique to the point of being ready to apply pressure. This helps me work on targeting and finding openings, but without the mess. This too can build bad habits so must we consider carefully how we use this in our training.

The best bet is to combine both methods. Either method requires you and your partner to have a foundation of trust and good communication. Nothing is more fun than dodging a face punch to move right into the path of the punch. There is no ideal way to train some of the most dangerous techniques, but you can get most of the way there.

What dangerous techniques do you train, and how do you train them?

Work With Your Partner, Instead of Against

Image by Totoro!

In my years of training, I have worked with a lot of different partners while practicing just about everything. While working with partners, I have observed a few things that consistently result in getting the most value out of working with a partner.

The one thing that seems to be lost on too many people is that you get more out of working with your partner than you get out of working against them. What I mean by this is that it is your responsibility as a good partner to scale the amount of resistance, speed, and contact based on who you are working with. Partner training is for mutual benefit, it is not a competition, so don’t treat it as such.

Being a Bad Partner

If you want to be the worst partner you can be, you will do everything you can to shut down your partner. You will make it difficult for them to succeed by using any superiority you can muster to prevent them from practicing the prescribed technique. If possible you will injure your partner so they can’t continue training, or make them fearful to continue practicing with you.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that by preventing your partner from practicing what they intend to practice, they aren’t going to improve. By making things difficult right from the get-go, they have no way to make gradual improvement. And by hurting them, you can frustrate their ability or desire to continue training, especially with you.

Being a Good Partner

To be a good partner it comes down to avoiding the above traits. A good partner scales the difficulty for their partner. Especially if you are technically or physically superior to your partner, it is your responsibility to gradually increase the pressure. You want to challenge your partner, but never overwhelm them. Your partner will only improve if they can overcome the resistance. Similarly, if you intend to get stronger by lifting weights, you won’t accomplish this by stacking them so heavy on your chest that you can’t move them.

A good partner tries not to hurt their partner for two reasons. Firstly, an injured partner who can’t train means that you cannot train. Bummer. Secondly, if you take advantage of your partner and constantly hurt them, they may become too timid to train with you. Especially when working with a beginner, pain can lead to fear. Fear results in poor technique or avoidance in general. Even worse, the fearful partner will avoid training with you, which is often more to your detriment than theirs.

In my youth when I was training to fight in competition, I spent roughly 30 minutes a week free sparring nonstop. I learned a lot during this training, but only because I was working with a good partner. We worked on speed, technique, and strategy, but left the majority of the contact out. This allowed me to work on incorporating new skills as I was learning them without fear of injury. Sure it would take a few tries to take a new skill and make it work against a live opponent, but I could work on it knowing that my opponent wouldn’t capitalize and try to hurt me. Working with a partner is a great way to improve your abilities, but only if you make every effort to work together.

Have you had to work with bad partners? What made them such bad partners? Post a comment and share your experiences with us!

Pressure Testing

Training always falls into three major phases: preparation, testing, and recovery. Preparation is where most of the time is spent: improving conditioning, running drills, and building skills. Every so often your training should be tested. Validate what you have and make sure the approach you are taking is working. Finally you recover and plan to correct the weaknesses and points of failure in your training so far.

Pressure testing can be the most important part of training; without it your training can go on infinitely with little real progress. Without some sort of pressure or stimulus your training will take the path of least resistance, right into non-existence. Pressure forces you to evolve and learn, and without it false confidence forms instead of real skills development.

The exact methods of pressure testing will vary based on the discipline being trained. There are, however, some common concepts that can be applied to some degree in all areas.

Partner

Adding a partner is the simplest way to add pressure to your training. A non-compliant adversary who is trying to thwart your efforts can significantly crank up the pressure.

This concept is what prevents most of the grappling arts from succumbing to the common pitfalls of the striking arts. Have you noticed how much harder it is to fake it in the grappling arts? Grappling always requires a partner, and therefore the pressure testing loop is closed.

In the arena of shooting, a partner is more difficult to implement. You can’t easily shoot your buddy for the sake of training. Simunitions or airsoft are valid options, but on the range a partner can also be used with two other types of pressure.

Time

Time is one of the easiest ways to add pressure to your firearms training. When you need to complete a task within a certain amount of time or for best time, it’s easy to start making mistakes. Even just racing against your own times can be a great way to make things more difficult.

A partner can create time pressure on the range when both partners are attempting to complete the same task. The race can force you to complete tasks quickly and efficiently. Someone will come out on top. This does require both partners to be relatively close in their speed or the effect is lost. If one partner is significantly faster, try a time handicap, adding time to the stronger partner’s time until both are performing roughly equally.

Adding time pressure to hand to hand training can be harder to implement. Giving yourself a time limit to reach a goal like achieving a submission or escaping from a disadvantageous situation is a great way to do this. This simulates the need to escape chokes, for example, before oxygen or blood runs out.

Stress

Just increasing the pressure can be a great way to pressure test your training. A partner or coach screaming at you as you try to perform even the simplest malfunction clearing drill can make the task much more difficult.

Another way to aid in increasing the stress level is to always pressure test with as many unknowns as possible. When training with a group, try to make the pressure testing exercises new and unique. Give the testee only the rules needed to keep things safe and let the other participants know the rest of the scenario. The test becomes more realistic as you adapt to an unknown hostile situation.

Another great way to insert stress is to cause unexpected surprises. Load your partner’s magazines with some dummy rounds. Unexpected issues like a malfunction can raise the stress level through the roof, especially during a timed session.

 

Remember that the reason we train so hard is to make the simple tasks unconscious. The way to win in a life or death conflict is to be able to think about the big picture while your body does what you need it to do. The only way to make sure you are hitting all the necessary skills and ingraining them deep enough is by ratcheting up the pressure.

What pressure testing methods do you use? Share your tricks and tips in the comments below!

WP Like Button Plugin by Free WordPress Templates