Thursday, September 1, 2011

Going too dynamic too fast is detrimental to training.


Recently I read a post by a trainer that read “Any training that isn’t dynamic force on force training is bullshit!!!”

I agree that dynamic / live (training against random attacks by a resistive partner) is a fantastic learning tool.  But only after a solid technical foundation has been laid. 

Going too dynamic too fast is very detrimental to training. 


Judo was one of the first arts that created a safe way to train dynamically.  Many believe that is the reason Judo defeated Jujutsu in the famous 1888 Tokyo Police competition.  They trained against resistive partners as opposed to Kata training only.  Obviously that competition (by its very nature) was against a resistive opponent giving the Judoka the edge (weird Judo guys winning a Judo competition).

However, a Judo Sensei will not allow a new student to begin dynamic training until a solid foundation has been built.  No Judo coach worth a damn would throw a white belt with very little (for the sake of argument lets say 3 months) training into Shiai (competition) much less the State Tournament.

So why are we doing dynamic training with cops who have a whooping 40 hours training?

Why are we throwing cops into the most dynamic possible situation, potential life and death struggles with such little training?

Ok, I’m getting side tracked by an issue I’m passionate about.  Cops you are not trained nearly as well as you should be.  Get off your asses and find quality training on your own.

Back on topic, that topic being….

Going too dynamic too fast is very detrimental to training.

Steve Jimerfield published a great article on this back in 2000 which I include here, enjoy.




Keeping The Negatives Out of Defensive Training:

A case for awareness

Steven Jimerfield
CPL Alaska State Troopers (Ret.)
(Word Count 2347)

The Nature of the Problem

After years of teaching defensive techniques and watching others train and be trained in advanced driving, physical training, and shooting, I have noted a growing pattern emerge from all this work. Without intent or malice, we trainers and trainees have been putting negatives into our learning, negatives that range from uncomfortable to effective defeat of our primary training goals. These are negatives of the subconscious mind. We are not deliberately sabotaging our training, but we are making these negatives happen, and we need to recognize them and address the need for change.
A good example of inadvertent negative training involves using pepper spray. A remarkable step toward understanding what a weapons system can do is the experience of being sprayed and learning to fight your way through it. Once mandatory spraying went into effect, however, we allowed sprayed trainees to go immediately to a bucket of water and then to a shower. This is a compassionate move (pepper spray is very irritating) but it lets the trainee subconsciously associate pepper spray with the availability of water. Thus, should an officer happen to be sprayed in a street situation, he or she we will habitually start looking for water, and with none at hand, the only option is to give up. Remember, under stress, we usually fall back on our habits (trained or personally learned), and we have just been trained to expect water and showers with pepper spray.
Once it was discovered that nearly everyone can fight through a pepper spray attack and survive it, we became stronger mentally, tactically, and more effective in court. Despite this experience, opposition remains today to mandatory spraying and fighting through. I think it is a tradeoff of discomfort versus saving a life.
Importantly, cops are not the only ones training with pepper spray. For example, gang members also train to defeat pepper spray, yet some law enforcement leaders continue to resist training in ways that can keep us safer on the street. Over the years, I believe I have now heard nearly every excuse for not training or staying in a simile of an uncomfortable street setting.
Do I have your attention yet? With this model in mind, lets look at ways of keeping negatives out of training to save lives.

Adult Expectations in Training

Adult learning operates on a set of known rules (known as andragogy) that help us design and implement our officer training programs.
A good example of these rules that we all know is that people under stress do what they were “trained” to do, whether or not that training was formal or happens to be personal experience. Stories about cops picking up brass in the middle of a gun fight are legion (they were probably all hand-loaders, too).
Another rule is that the last thing a person is taught is usually what will be remembered. So if that last lesson was not a positive experience or clearly negative, then all of your training may be for naught. For example, doing dynamic training at the end of a class can leave a student with the lesson that he or she is going to get “beat up.” We recognize this problem with our admonition that “Red Man” training is only as good as the man in the Red Man suit, who may not let the student win.
We may say that we will let them always win, but did the student feel like he won. If he did not, the student will most likely not tell you. Instead of integrating the technique into an action package, the student will walk away not believing in the technique because his subconscious mind is saying “no” to using them on the street, and all of your training effort just went out the window. These are the true negatives we put in training. 
Adults look immediately for the applications and practicality of a technique. Learning is not subject oriented, but issue or problem focused, and adults are very aware of contradictions. What happens when we teach a contradiction?
I believe we teach negatives, for example, when we tell a student to maintain a reactionary gap and yet they have to give up that gap to arrest a suspect. When doing “bar checks,” it is very difficult if not impossible to maintain a reactionary gap. The contradiction shows up in the training in that every time someone gets close we push them away, and then have to re-address that person to take control or arrest him. On a practical basis, re-addressing an individual usually means more of a fight. It is better to use the person’s closeness to take control rather then push him away and later try to move back in to take control.

Some Specific Trainee Negatives

Our students are experienced adults and bring their own set of negatives. As instructors, our task is to recognize these negatives and set out to remove them. Let’s look at some examples.
Resisting a maneuver too early in the training: Most of our defensive techniques depend on an element of surprise. When someone knows what you are going to do, it is easy to defeat even the most effective maneuver. Defeating a control technique before it is completely learned educates the student’s subconscious that the maneuver will not work. Once the seeds of doubt are sown, it will be hard for any student to avoid feeling that continued practice is a waste of time.
Resistance to new techniques: Above even the fear of cancer, humans fear change most of all. There is a contentment in feeling that things learned before are the only way to go. Couple contentment with the fear of change and you have a student with a closed mind. Our task is to open these minds and ready them to accept change as a new found treasure, not to mention that the new material really works faster, better, easier, etc. 
Trying to teach the instructor techniques learned in a prior training program: This trap goes hand-in-hand with the previous sense of resistance. A student will typically start to show things learned in prior training such as a counter to what you are teaching or another similar technique. This is an insidious process that undermines your training, leading to a whole class of negatives. The instructor needs to watch for this diversion and redirect the student from the past to the present. Unfortunately, the student showing the alternate technique usually has already closed his mind to the training at hand and will be a distraction to the rest of the class.
Fighting Hollywood Style: Hollywood not only makes pictures, it also sets up expectations of what reality looks like, including fights. Students come with a notion of fighting Hollywood style. This is when you knock the assailant to the floor and then pick him up to cuff him and then put him back on the ground. Every cowboy and lawman in Hollywood has fought this way.
For our students, fighting takes on the sequence of taking someone to the ground, then standing them back up to put them down again! This technique is so subtle that you will have to stand back and watch for this one as the students work through an arrest maneuver. It really came home to me when I was the one being arrested during cuffing practice. In every instance, when the students tried to put me on the ground they were actually holding me up. And some of the experienced cops do this, too, as so nicely filmed for the program Cops. And it appeared again while I was on patrol with working officers.
No one means to make these moves, they just do it, and even pointing it out can leave a student scratching his head, unable to recognize what you are talking about. And many  instructors do not think about the problem; they just teach.

Some Specific Instructor Negatives

If students can come to training with a fist full of negatives, we can gift them with a whole bouquet of our own.
Letting the student resist to early: So often, we let students do things too early in the training program that can undermine their mastery of the technique. Students will try to resist controlling techniques, and a leading negative from us is that we let them.
Showing techniques rather than teaching: Showing a technique rather than teaching it can hurt students. You can gather a large number of negatives by deliberately hurting or injuring students. Instructors fall into this when they are trying to impress the student group. Confident, competent teaching techniques will impress your students a lot more than any student injury can provide.
Mismatching the teaching level for the class: It is surprisingly easy to teach either too advanced or not advanced enough. As adults, most students do not want to redo what they have already learned. They may think they know the techniques, when a simple test by the instructor can prove they do not. The negative here is letting them go with immature skills because they are looking for something new. 
But we can still teach over their heads. A six year old student taught me this simple rule of teaching at the class level many years ago. I was trying to get this student to pivot, and I kept saying “pivot,” and demonstrated the technique. He was just not getting the idea. After thinking about it a bit, this young man tugged at my gi and said “what does pivot mean?” I said “turn.” He then said “Oh!” and went on to do the technique just as I wanted.
Not enough allotted time to teach the needed techniques: Most in-service training for defensive tactics spans four hours or less. The amount of time in each academy varies, but 40 hours (if that) is typical, and that covers all of the basic techniques: handcuffing, hitting, kicking and what ever else we can squeeze into those fast 40 hours. The loud complaint we hear is “too much in too little time.” More negatives.
In addition, we use our hands on a suspect more then anything else, and yet “hands-on” techniques are what we teach the least. We qualify with weapons three times a year, but never qualify our hands-on skills. In other words, we train in-service but no one has to be proficient with these hands-on techniques. Simple exposure is not the same as learning. More training negatives.
Going dynamic too fast too soon: Nearly all students like dynamic training, especially early in the training, but is it really good? Usually this is the last part of the program for a week of training. Positive or not, this is likely the last thing they will remember, and all of your training effort just went out the window if the experience was negative. This also relates to “red man” training. It is only as good as the man in the suit. Sometimes too many attitudes are in the suit, and the student just walks a way thinking “I did everything the way I was taught, and it did not work.”
Setting up students with a narrow range of opponents: A big question for a training class is: Who works out with whom. In general, avoid having women work only with other women. Female officers are going to be arresting men and must feel comfortable that the techniques will work against a larger, stronger person. At the same time, male officers are going to be arresting women and need this experience. In other words, rotate workout partners so everyone will get a chance at a person with a different stature, even though at time women will work with women.
Instructor and assistant instructor(s) are on different pages: The Instructor must control the class, and that includes making sure all assistant instructors are teaching the same techniques and philosophies.
Teaching techniques that are not street proven: Force Report Forms are an important means of finding out which techniques are in fact working. One way of hooking the students into your program are testimonials on your working techniques from other officers. In addition, you should survey students to see how techniques have been working for them on the street.
An instructor in poor physical condition: Whether it is fair or not, your students are going to evaluate your physical conditioning. Being in shape can be a strong, positive influence on your students. At the same time, being out of shape can have a strong negative effect on the training outcome.
Perhaps the instructor’s greatest frustration is not getting the material across. This frustration is usually not focused at the students but the instructors themselves. This fact doesn’t prevent the instructor from taking it out on the students, however. For us, this usually means we have to change what we are doing to get the technique across. Back off, re-think, re-address, change your teaching style, terminology, and always try to teach to the level of the student.


We can never make training as realistic as it will really be on the street, no matter how hard we try. Field training officers need to be in concurrence with your academy training because they are working street coaches who can negate all of the academy training if they are in opposition to the academy training or not up to date. Contradictions only leave the student thoroughly confused when they first hit the streets. This puts the student and Field Training Officer both at risk.
So, let’s look at our training, identify the valid negatives, and address them and make our training better and more productive for our students

Cops you are not trained nearly as well as you should be. 
Get off your asses and find quality training on your own.
Dynamic training is necessary but has to be done smart.
Going too dynamic too fast is very detrimental to training.
Get the time in to develop a solid fundamental base.
Then and only then refine your ability to use those fundamental skills against a resistive opponent.

Train hard, Train Smart, Be safe


  1. Good article. FYI scholars are unable to find anything about the Judo police competition. The first writing of the account is 40 years later. It is likely it is Judo myth.

  2. Great post. Without going off on a rant, I have always hated the Red-man suit. I remember the first time I ever went up against one. I was told shortly into the 'fight' not to grab the suit. They I was told not to go too hard or they'd come back at me harder. The lesson I learned? If I ever came up against a Red-man on the street, I might have to pull my gun, clearly there's no way to win from what I was "taught". Very good article.

    Truly, it is more often a failing of the teacher, not the student. Having said that, they're no one harder to teach than a bunch of cops (I've been there).

  3. Lots of great points here. Regarding Red Man and the like... Our academy pointedly sends a guy in the gear into some scenarios that ARE NOT supposed to go violent to sort of set up the guy who wants to go too dynamic inappropriately.

    And there are way too many people who have a mindset like that quote you started with. Which leads to pointless and silly "force-on-force" exercises without any purpose or goal.

  4. Great article thanks.
    Would it be possible to post the article on my own blog? I would of course credit the original and also add a redirecting link back to your blog here.

  5. Hi Just re asking my question above, I realise that you have been busy.

  6. Hello Jonathan,
    Somehow the blog is not letting Kasey respond .... and he has tried many times ;-)
    He asked me to tell you that it is perfectly OK to share and thank you for reading and asking.