Krav Maga Self Defence Penrith
Almost every martial arts style advertises and promotes their school using the term self defence, but is what teach applicable on the street? Martial arts techniques will work in a specific time & place; the problem is that the time and place is quite often just movies! So how do you determine what’s useful & what isn’t? One way is scenario training.
Your typical scenario training looks like a porn flick, it starts with some terrible dialogue and acting that is often skipped over, followed by a random segue into everybody’s favourite part, the physical act, that quite often involves several people. But seriously, Self Defence / Martial arts like any physical pursuit should be trained in the same manner as we do sport. The training needs to simulate the event that you are training for as closely as possible. Let me restate that, as closely as possible. You are essentially engaging in role-playing or simulation training of a potentially violent situation. So what advice would I give to anyone wishing to delve into the world of scenario training? Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned over the years:
Rule #1 Safety First
Just like fight club this rule needs to appear twice because it’s that important. Pad the person &/or pad the environment to ensure the safety of participants. Scenario training often involves props or taking the training from a safe, sterile gym and into a variety of unpredictable locations. At Krav West we often train in buses, stairs, bathrooms, clubs, skate bowls and many other volatile locations. These locations do not have the luxury of padded walls & floors like most gyms therefore the risk of injury is increased. We accommodate for this by conducting a risk assessment and once potential hazards are identified we look at means of eliminating or reducing them. This is done as stated before by padding the participants or the environment and we also employ ‘spotters’ Just like lifting in the gym we have a spotter to support another person during a particular exercise that may go astray, we have them in particular scenarios such as on the stairs standing behind participants to catch them should they fall. We also stress the importance appropriate protective equipment and have a number of substitute soft props that we use in place of tables etc. We have strict rules about taking care of training partners & a level of etiquette we adhere to in regards to how we attack each other.
Check your ego at the door
This is vital to ensure rule #1, the integrity of the drills & the cohesiveness of the group. Everyone needs to understand that this is different to a fight; this is a learning exercise not mortal combat! I manage to take the ego out by explaining to all participants that this is not you versus them. This is a particular situation that you hopefully do not find yourself in, it’s not a competition, it’s about problem solving. Both the assailant and the victim are playing roles and both are disadvantaged to some degree. It’s similar to MMA where during a sparring session one fighters instructions are to wrestle & the other one to strike, maybe it’s not your forte, maybe it’s not what you would do, but for the sake of the drill and skill development it’s necessary. Each person needs to accept that in certain scenarios they are crash test dummies and are there for others to build their skills. These roles are swapped so everyone has an opportunity to experience both sides of the drill. The other area where ego needs to take a back seat is it is not a time you have a captive audience to try out your new comedy routine or puns. This often changes the mood and detracts from the drill same with using it as an excuse to try and hurt people. I’m fortunate in that I have a great group who get along and trust each other which enables us to take training to a whole new level!
Have Clear Objectives & Roles
Everyone needs to be on the same page or it can turn pear shaped real quick. Everyone needs to know their role to make it work & they need to ‘stick to the script’ as I am often heard saying! We don’t actually write out scripts or have it storyboarded however we each have a role that is essential for success, if someone starts ad libbing or going improv it often doesn’t achieve the desired result. The one person who can be left in the dark is the ‘victim’ or the person who the scenario is for. We refer to this as an open scenario. An open scenario means that they do not know what they are getting into, the only instructions given is to solve the problem. It’s a little bit like that old TV show ‘Thank God You’re Here’ The participant starts outside the room while the team create the set, then walk into it and take care of business on the fly. In a closed scenario, everyone has a solid idea of how it’s all going to go down. I quite often show a CCTV video of an attack and we basically re-enact it trying a few different methods of solving the problem. This is the means we prefer to use on less experienced students. This allows for the student to plan a response, which detracts from the ‘ambush’ style of training that characterises reality-based training, yet is often necessary for skill development and progression.
There needs to be a clear end point also, we use a whistle to signal to stop, to distinguish from people yelling out ‘stop’ as this would likely be background noise in a real encounter. People often get lost in the moment and cannot hear commands particularly with certain headgear on, yet the sound of the whistle manages to get through. This also allows for more scenarios within scenarios such as a third party getting involved once the original one is resolved.
Pre-& Post incident is essential
Just as time is taken developing the physical component, careful consideration must be made for the pre & post incident. Violent encounters are usually decided in the pre-fight or frill necking stage as we refer to it. The person who lands the initial significant attack here usually triumphs. Therefore you’re tactics and strategies in this phase must be sound. People get beaten in fights before they even realise they were in one. This stage needs to be characterised by some aggressive dialogue and posturing to help develop the recognition of pre contact cues as well as working on your verbal de-escalation skills, positioning etc. You must also keep it street, when you attack don’t drop into a horse stance or touch gloves and come out fighting, keep it in context.
The Post incident needs careful consideration also. How many times have we seen one fight ending only for the individual to get cleaned up by a friend that’s just out of view? Good practice should be ingrained into the training to make them habit such as scanning 360 degrees after the threat is neutralised.
Remember to consider the consequences of your chosen response in each scenario. Would it be considered reasonable and necessary in the eyes of the law? Familiarise yourself with the your local laws and act accordingly within the scenario. I know as an instructor I would feel a great sense of guilt if one of my students wound up in gaol for excessive use of force, just as I would if they were harmed if I taught ineffective techniques. The workplace is another consideration. Would your actions cost you your job if you were at work? If a female is in a scenario where they could be sexually assaulted then it is quite reasonable to think they could go knuckle deep in the eye sockets of the attacker, if they were working as a nurse and harassed by a patient is there a less than lethal option that is protocol? We try to have a solution or way out that is non violent in every scenario, that is by using correct verbal de-escalation and/or conflict resolution skills or even fleeing (if you’re a fast runner). Remember context is key and also everyone has the right to defend themselves but don’t overdo it!
Engage the mind as well as the body
Reality based training differs from other classifications of martial arts as we try and simulate biological processes that occur in a confrontation. The body’s natural response to perceived danger where hormones like adrenalin and cortisol are released, include; increasing respiration and heart rates, the sense of nervousness and fatigue and loss of certain cognitive function. This is quite difficult to simulate, particularly with experienced students. New students engaging in this type of training may generally feel this before each class. To immerse their minds sometimes we need to engage in visualisation techniques or mental rehearsal to get the individual in the right frame of mind prior to the scenario. Visualisation is imagining a situation with a perfect outcome, in great detail and engaging as many senses as possible. The practitioner can actually experience skill enhancement of both physical and psychological reactions parallel with physical practice. This can be conducted almost anywhere and is relevant both in your own time and prior to entering a scenario to elicit an adrenal type response. Other ways we can achieve a similar reaction is through pre-exhaustion techniques. That is making the practitioner undergo some very intense anaerobic activity prior to the scenario, to increase both heart and respiration rates as well as that feeling of fatigue. Our favourite pre exhaustion tool is our air assault bike. Some trainers make participants spin around until they are dizzy to replicate being confused and stunned by a shot.
Extension / Diversification
There are many ways to make this relevant to differing levels of students. You can alter the speed, environment, contact & difficulty of the scenario. With advanced students I like to throw in a curveball, adding more attackers, a weapon or get them to start in less than optimal positions or left of field attacks. We can up the intensity and also the effect of their techniques on the attacker ie the initial response didn’t work. Like any training repetition is essential.
Rinse & Repeat
Once finished it’s a good idea to regroup and reflect on the scenario. Provide constructive feedback ie look at what went well and what didn’t. We often film our scenarios and review them shortly after. Once we identify methods of improving performance we redo the process again and again until we are satisfied with the outcome.and the reactions are becoming autonomous.
The options are endless it is only limited by your imagination; you can take a single skill and train it under a multitude of circumstances by altering a single variable. So before you start head to your local drama school to get your method acting on point, grab yourself a Spartan suit and keep it real!