Monday, August 22, 2011

Can you cut it?


Hello true believers (that sounds kind of cultish unless you’re a comic nerd and know I’m quoting Stan Lee) It’s been a while since the ol’ Silver Back checked in.
It’s been a crazy couple of weeks
·         The birth of my 3rd daughter (both Momma and baby are doing great)
·         Couple of high risk felony search warrants
·         Active shooter training
·         Sniper training
·         Prepping for the Violence Dynamics seminar
·         And setting up another One on One Control Tactics Instructor course.
Actually with all of that, I’ve had a ton of stuff I wanted to blog about.  But not much time and a lot of those blog topics aren’t for public consumption and violate operational security.
So, this blog is my attempt to boil down those specific operational topics into general principles applicable to anyone’s training.
CAN YOU CUT IT?

Admittedly most of my Kenjutsu training has been with bokken (wood sword) as opposed to shinken (live sword or sharp edge).  What I hate about Kenjutsu is all the bullshit that comes with it.  Because people haven’t used Katana for actual combat in generations training drifts away from practical efficient killing and begins to focus on things that don’t really matter.  One of the things I LOVE about shinken training is all that bullshit drifts away and all that is left is can you cut or not.
I’m sure this guys knows exactly how to fold the pleats of his hakama, the exact angle to hold the sword for chuburi noto, how many steps to take and which foot to start with to approach the tatami but when it came down to it none of that matters.  He couldn’t cut it, he lost his sword, and nearly injured the onlookers.
So, what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?
Sniper training
After last month’s sniper training, I thought it would be a good idea to work with some three dimensional targets.  It has been my experience as a fire arms instructor that no matter how dialed in you get your guys on paper the added element of a 3D target throws off their mojo.  For example you can have your guys nailing a 3”x5” target like a tack hammer but then switch up to a bowling pin (represents the space in a human from the base of the nose down to the xiphoid process that ends aggression see also lethal wound channels) which is much larger than 3”x5” it’s like the damn thing has a force field, no one can hit it.  Until they do.  And that is a problem because unlike most Hollywood scripts bad guys are three dimensional. 
So for sniper training I thought it would be a good idea to shoot golf balls (three dimensional representation of a one minute of angle critical brain shot).  So Donny super glued some string to ping pong balls (cheaper than golf balls) and we stapled them to the bottom of the target stands.  Now, shooting on paper you can admire a nice grouping, it’s really cool if all your shots are touching.  It shows solid mechanics.  But a nice grouping outside the circle is a beautiful group of misses.  With the balls you either hit it or you don’t.  Nothing else matters.
Wow Kasey you’re so cool…what’s the point?
Well, in sport arts you either win or you don’t.  It’s hard to brag about how great you are at Judo if you keep getting your ass kicked at tournament.  In practical application / self defense just like Kenjutsu or shooting at paper there is a large window of opportunity for bullshit to creep in.  The only way to know if what you are training works is to prevail in a violent confrontation, but the stakes are the highest possible and there is no silver medal for second place.  You either cut it or you are raped, maimed, killed, all the above.
So whatever you are training, like the 3d targets, like the tameshigiri, you need to develop safe ways to cut through the bullshit and find out if you can cut it.
What if you can’t?  That’s scary, but be happy because now you have something concrete to work on.  Not bullshit, not aesthetics, not tradition, something real you can work on until you do cut it.  That builds competence, and competence creates real confidence.
For assistance finding safe ways to cut it check out “Drills: Training for sudden violence” by Rory Miller.  I’m especially fond of the chapter on world work, particularly the global awareness exercise, but I’m biased J


YOU’RE ONLY AS GOOD AS THOSE YOU TRAIN WITH
Sniper training part 2  - I am blessed to work with guys who are very skilled, and push each other to constantly improve.  Shooting balls was my idea, and it was good training.  Making it a competition (competition induces stress, not the same as combat stress, but a way to help simulate it safely) was Hankee’s idea and using PT to induce physical stress (physical stress helps simulate the body’s reaction to combat stress) was Mike’s idea.  So because of the guys I train with my good idea evolved into a great drill.  Any chump can shoot paper at 100 yards, Operators have to be able to hit a critical brain shoot under pressure and so the ball blasting drill was born
BALL BLASTING
Round 1
Bolts back safety on
10 push ups
Sprint to gun
Shoot 1st ball
10 push ups
Shoot 2nd ball
Stand up when you’re done
1st one done = winner   
Round 2
Bolts back safety on
3 pull ups
Shoot 1st ball
3 pull ups
Shoot 2nd ball
Stand up when you’re done
1st one done = winner  
I wish I could say I was the winner, Donny won every time.  I came in last every time.  But I got better.  Training with guys who are hard to beat can be humbling, but it pushed my envelope and increased my skill set
At the end of the day I went back to the ping pong drill.  I would hit it then have a moving target.  Making the ball dance, hitting a moving target the size ping pong ball at 100 yards is a great confidence booster, competence creates real confidence.  I can brag because I cut it and my partners force me to cut it under ever more difficult conditions.
Wow Kasey you’re so cool…what’s the point?
Who are you training with?  Do you seek out the toughest guy at your school, get your ass kicked but improve?  Or do you hide in a corner and always train with the same guy, someone you are better than, because its strokes your ego.  It may feel good and comfortable but it will cause you to stagnate in mediocrity
So in summary
Finds ways to test when the pressure is on can if you can cut it, and find training partners that push you to cut it under ever more difficult conditions.

Train hard, train smart, be safe



2 comments:

  1. Great post Kasey. My main training partner can kick my ass so I always leave training thinking about how I can improve and what I need to work on. It's the only way to train!

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  2. Fabulous insight Kasey!! And from personal experience I can attest that training in such way is not for the faint of heart. But is it the BEST way to improve and the only way to know for certain that what I do works.
    Kudos!!!!

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