Posted by AG_Clare

Training Priorities

For some it is an unsettling news story. For others it is being victimized themselves. Regardless, prioritizing training is the key to being prepared for interpersonal violence. It’s far too easy to get sucked into taking the fun classes and ignore the essential classes and practices. Everyone loves the high-speed operator carbine classes, but as a civilian, the chances of you needing a rifle in a self-defense situation are slim to none. A semester in an EMT-B class would be eminently more likely to prove useful over an average civilian’s lifetime. After all, how often can you remember seeing a bad wreck versus seeing large groups of men kitted out in military equipment storming a neighborhood? So, let’s lay out what you should focus your time on. It may not be fun, but it will be vital.
The biggest area that we in general and trainees, in particular, tend to fail is in the area of threat awareness. It’s very easy to bury your head in a smartphone and check Facebook for the latest fight videos. It’s easy to focus on your music or podcast or even the conversation you are having with a friend as you move through a parking lot. Taking your focus off what is going on around you to focus on anything else is called “Task Fixation” and it is a very bad thing when you are out and about. It’s not fun, it’s not sexy, but keeping your head up and attentive is perhaps the easiest way to avoid trouble.
Building directly off threat awareness, communicating with unknown individuals, or, Managing Unknown Contacts to use the terminology from the Shivworks Collective course material, is the next biggest area that can make or break you. If you spend any time online, I’m sure you’ve heard, “I’ll never let someone get that close” or the like. That’s honestly not practical. In any given week, it’s very likely that you’ll end up standing in line at the grocery store or a fast food joint. Other people will get close to you, at least, if you are a normal human and not an awkward social pariah. The basics of this concept are to keep enough space to react before you get into trouble. There can literally be volumes written on the subject, and there are many resources out there to help improve this aspect of your skillset. Hands down the best of these resources is Shivworks ECQC. The first night you will spend hours covering the concepts and have plenty of reps under pressure over the course of the weekend. You will also notice in that ECQC that Managing Unknowns is your weakest area if you’ve never done it before. If you continue to work the techniques covered and build on your failings you will be safer as a result.
In recent mass shootings, there has been one thing proven fact. Medical training saves lives. Seeing that you are much more likely to encounter non-violence related trauma in your day to day life than you are a shooter, having the proper tools and more importantly, the know-how, to deal with these common threats to life, be it your life, a loved one, or a total stranger, are vital to the having a complete preparedness training path. It doesn’t have to be much, knowing how to pack a wound or apply a TQ can make the difference between life and death. Getting into a basic first aid class or into a one day combat medical class, will give you the basics. If you are really committed, most community colleges offer an EMT-B certification course that takes a semester and costs about what a weekend carbine class would cost, once you factor in ammo and gas. Getting this training will make you an asset.
The things discussed so far are skills that can be employed by anyone regardless of physical ability, age, sex, or any other differences. Going forward, honestly, that will not be the case. As you begin to physically handle violence, physicality matters. The stronger and more conditioned you are the easier time you will have in both training for and dealing with a violent confrontation. At amateur fighting events, conditioning plays an enormous role as the differences between fighters widen. Think about those same differences between a fit young criminal and the point you are at currently. Are you physically capable of handling the aerobic stress of a fight? Physical conditioning goes beyond the fight. Heart disease and diabetes are by far and away some of the biggest killers of adults in the United States. Of “gun crimes” suicide happens much more frequently than murder. Maintaining good physical health can obviously help both of those areas. Maintaining a higher level of fitness will allow you to squeeze in more hours of training, more rolls at open mat, or more reps of a handgun course. It’s not fun putting in the miles on a treadmill but conditioning will make a huge difference on your training path.
As we make our way further to the top of the pyramid, we get more and more fight specialized. Previous points have been general preparedness and good advice. Well now we are about to get into the details of surviving an inevitable violent encounter. You’ve avoided the bad areas, you’ve locked your doors, you’ve got your medical training and fitness. You are at an upscale mall when a military-aged male begins to approach you in the parking lot. You hit your tape loop and start running through your verbal commands and de-escalation techniques. He’s still closing the distance and picking up speed. You feel in your gut that things are about to cook off. It’s go time!
One piece of internet jargon that gets repeated too frequently is the 21-foot rule, used to justify shooting an opponent armed with a knife or impact weapon at range since they can close the distance in less time than you can process information to draw, aim, and put rounds on them. A lot about this common stat is misunderstood, but it does emphasize one thing very well, time and space are vital in a self-defense encounter (all fighting is dependent on time created by space and angle). In a rush, a violent, able-bodied criminal can be on top of you before you have your gun out (provided you are carrying a gun). In order to survive the encounter, you’ll need two robust skillsets which make up the top of our pyramid, combatives and handgun training.
To say the martial arts world in general, and combatives in particular is highly opinionated, is a gross understatement. It is extremely hard to weed through the noise and decide what works, especially when you are new to the community. Generally speaking, there are three camps, traditional martial arts, combat sports, and combatives-specific styles. If you ask an adherent to any one of those styles, they will give you reasons why they have the answer, so how do you choose? The best way to determine what works is logically to test them within a given set of parameters, but what are those parameters? Matt Thorton, founder of Straight Blast Gym, is very fond of using the concept of aliveness to determine the practicality of any given technique, style, or instructor. So, what does that mean? In layman’s terms, aliveness pertains to the lack of techniques being staged, during practice. As an example, Aikido, a traditional martial art of Japan, practices for the duration of class, every class, with willing opponents. Compare this to a standard Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class, where half the class is instruction, and have the class is live sparring or rolling. When it comes time to use a technique for real, time contextualizing and performing it against someone who wants you to fail will give you the experience to do the same thing to a live opponent who obviously doesn’t want to get punched, choked, or joint-locked. So first and foremost, look for a combatives class where there are live, competitive sparring sessions very frequently.
The next most important question to ask about combatives, after aliveness, is context. Does the martial art you are training cover the bases, or at least is it easily adaptable to the bases of a self-defense scenario? Does it have a way to handle strikes? Does it offer a path through the clinch while standing? Does it provide a way to survive and escape if you are taken to the ground? And does it reinforce each of these things through live training with opponents who actively, and competitively, want you to fail. All serious fights contain those elements so you must incorporate them in your training. If you seriously consider those questions, you’ll likely come to a mix of martial arts in order to address all the issues. To cover your striking (and more importantly inoculation against being hit) you’ll find the sport of boxing or Muay Thai is tough to beat. A good MMA program will address strikes as well. To cover the standing clinch, wrestling or Judo will keep you standing and in a good position while controlling your opponent. And to deal with the worst case of being taken to the ground, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu basics get up and to a dominant position. If you can find a quality MMA program, or a combatives school that covers those bases through competition, you have the rough skills to begin to plug in real world elements like weapons and attackers with friends. Once there, seminars from guys like Shivworks can begin to plug weapons-access into the fighting structure that you have already developed.
And what of firearms? Having access to a handgun, and knowing how to use it is a very effective way to defend yourself, but training is crucial. Just like the martial arts world, the “gun world” is full of myths and contention. The best way to navigate these is by finding a solid, vetted instructor in good standing to help answer the questions and show you the way to begin your education into the martial art of the gun. However, the trouble comes from the same thing that gives us the right to own guns. Everyone knows someone whose uncle was a Navy Seal/Cop/Sniper/etc and doesn’t need training, and likely speaks on borrowed authority because of his connection with that person. Everyone, and I mean everyone, will benefit from training the basics under a competent instructor. Training with a handgun will be a rabbit-hole of useful knowledge. Getting the basics down safely is the key to progressing into that world. Once you can do so, force-on-force, low-light, and vehicle classes will allow you to actively build your skill level and, just as in the aliveness principle in martial arts, test those skills against others in a competitive environment. The more times you can practice in that type of environment, the less mental lock you will experience when exposed to the real thing.
When you get serious about personal protection, it’s more than just buying a gun and a box of ammo and calling good. It’s a way of life. I hesitate to call it a lifestyle, because that implies there are other hobbies like golfing, mountain-biking or craft-brewing. You are making the commitment to a series of intelligent choices. Think of it like balancing your checkbook, or filling your tank before the low-fuel light comes on, just wise decisions to make. Once you break out of the mental space and allow for the possibility that bad things could happen to you, you can start taking steps down the path to better preparedness.

Quick Login

Upcoming Training

There are no upcoming events.