Practice Where You Preach

My self-defense classes for the last 25 years have been non conventional.  One of the most unique training aspects of our school, is that we always mixed up and varied the environments we trained in, and so should you.  Regardless if you’re training firearms, kick boxing or defensive driving, my advice is to vary up “where” you are training.

Until moving to Phoenix some years ago, I operated self-defense schools in the Chicago area.  This is important to note, because Chicago is known for people dying in the summer because it gets so hot, yet so cold in winter that people die in that season as well.

It didn’t matter the season, or weather for that matter, we would train outside throughout each month.  Sometimes it would be hot and humid, where the air would seem so thick you could barely breathe, while other times we would bundle up and feel like our eye balls were freezing in single digit temperatures.  But we didn’t stop there.

We would ground fight on grass just as much as asphalt, and throughout drills at night I would turn off the lights in the room making it pitch dark where students would have to more or less “feel” their way around, and defend attacks without the blessing of sight.  We would train in the parking lot around cars, up and down snow banks and even on a bus.  Yes, a bus.  During one training session, I rented a charter bus, and we practiced our moves while tightly seated and in narrow walkways… while driving down the highway with our balance being thrown off.  Was it fun?  Of course.  But even more so, it was valuable. 

Too many times, we practice our craft in a comfortable setting, with moderate temperature, controlled lighting and a soft floor.  The unfortunate fact is that, many times we’re not defending ourselves in those “perfect” areas.  Surfaces are hard and rough, weather is a factor, lighting is dim if not non-existent and there is debris and obstacles everywhere such as poles, furniture, walls, doors, garbage, stairs and landscaping.

Therefore, when learning any kind of defensive technique, use the controlled environments first, so you can focus on the mechanics, fine tune the movements and pay attention to the detail, and not worried about slipping on ice.  Once you feel more comfortable with shooting that weapon, performing that choke counter or practicing that escape and evasion technique, then take it to the field.  Vary up one environmental attribute, and then another.  Put them in combinations, and even have training partners pick them without your prior knowledge.

That is what builds confidence and competence within your craft.  Whether it is shooting guns in the rain, defensive driving around obstacles, kicking and punching on snow or in sand.  Adapting is the key to effectiveness and variety is the spice which will make it fun and interesting, making your skills far more functional than the mundane textbook situations which rarely happen in real life.        

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