Sunday, July 21, 2013

“For how we train so shall we fight”

Recently I received a message on face book (https://www.facebook.com/kasey.keckeisen) from Myron Cossitt.  Myron trains at KPC Martial arts (https://www.facebook.com/KPCmartialarts) in Canada.

I met him last year at the Violence Dynamics Seminar.

Here is a picture of him breaking my heroic lantern jaw


I cut and paste our conversation

Myron Cossitt
Hey man, can I ask you a training/violence related question?

Kasey Keckeisen
Shoot

Myron Cossitt
When you're training things like BJJ or wrestling (or even maybe Judo?) the goal of the art doesn't usually line up with "violence" principles. Best example I can come up with based on my limited Martial Arts knowledge is:
In BJJ, your goal is to take your opponent to the ground, but in an actual violent encounter, you obviously wouldn't want to take them to the ground, but instead to have a solid ground skill set in case you ended up there.
When you're training, how do you avoid accidentally training "bad" habits that might make your situation worse or get you hurt? How do you not train those "bad" habits but still train the required skill set for a worst-case scenario (like being on the ground/the BJJ example)?
Does that make sense what I'm asking?

Kasey Keckeisen
Yup.
Answer is fairly long
Is it cool if I use this conversation as a blog?
Kinda too long to give an answer here. And I want time to answer it well

Myron Cossitt
Absolutely!
Just let me know when you post it cause it's been going around and around in my brain for the last while.

So guess what fans of the Budo Blog, that is what today’s blog is going to cover - How do you gain all of the skill sets required with out accidentally training "bad" habits that might get you hurt?

Easy answer find an instructor who received lots of training before they applied it in the field and has refined what they teach

Hard answer you receive lots of training then refine it down.

Also if you are a fan of the Budo Blog you will know that I am working on a book.  As it so happens a chapter or several deal directly with this idea.

So here is a teaser sample to get us rolling.

What to look for Seeking out those attributes – TRAINING
Just as I learned that Karate, Aikido, and Judo all work together because they all evolved from the core art of JuJutsu.  An Operator needs to round out their skill sets in ways that complement each other.

If you train in one system that preaches always stay on your feet and another that suggests you pull an attacker to the ground on top of you, how are you going to make those skill sets work together under pressure against a resistive opponent?

Your training must fit your rules of engagement, your personal ethical codes and meet the needs of a professional.

So before you seek out additional training have an operational philosophy in mind to use as your foundation.
  
I have been asked several times are traditional martial arts a waste of time?  Or do you feel you have wasted years of your life training in traditional martial arts? 

No, and here is why.  If I use the metaphor of a tree with solid, efficient, practical application combative measures as the end product or the fruit of the tree if you will.  Then traditional martial arts training are the root system of that tree.  The deeper better developed the roots are, the stronger the tree, the better, and more fruit the tree can yield.

However, every tree will need a pruning process

Losing an illusion makes you wiser than finding a truth.

If you seek wisdom, seek the destruction of the illusions you hold as true more than you seek new truths.

-Karl Ludwig Börne


Cut all that is unnecessary, contradictory and unproductive.  Nurture and refine what is left.

My goal as an Instructor is to get my students to yield quality fruit of their own through a process that is more streamlined / outcome based than the path I took.

However, I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water.  There are many great aspects of traditional martial arts training I strive to maintain while streamlining the process.

There are certain training methods that will take a student from nothing to proficient very quickly.  However, if that is all a system has to offer, that student will peak and plateau at proficient.  There are training methods that have long term effects.  They may not produce noticeable results in the short term but allow a student to surpass proficiency to mastery and really own these skills.

So you must be careful what you chose to prune.

 In his book “The Structure of Aikido” Gaku Homma makes some great points about natural motion.
Basically his point is our most effective movements are those we do naturally.  I reference this a lot when I work with Tactical Teams.  If you take a step with your left foot, the next step you normally take is with the right.  Simple movements like this we use everyday are the most powerful and effective movements we have available to us.  When you push open a door you naturally take a step forward or you would lose your balance and fall.  When you pull a door open you naturally take a step back so you don’t smack yourself in the face with the door.
You probably didn’t fall down, smack yourself in the face, or run into anyone on the street today.  No one taught you how to do this, you didn’t receive any special training.  This self preservation ability is something that you have developed for yourself since you learned how to move.

Let’s say you are 30 years old, and you have been walking since you were 1.  You have 29 years and 1000’s and 1000’s of repetitions in your own style of movement.  Even if you train everyday for 10 years, it could not compare to the 29 years of experience you already have.
You may have heard the saying it takes 3000-5000 repetitions to achieve muscle memory.  There is no such thing as muscle memory, but repetitive training can develop neural pathways which transmit signals from your brain to move your body in a specific way more efficiently.

The 3000 – 5000 repetition numbers comes from a 1941 book called Motor Learning by Doctors Richard Schmidt with Craig A. Wrisberg.
In Motor Learning, Dr. Schmidt states that it requires approximately 300-500 repetitions to develop a new motor pattern, and that it takes about 3000-5000 repetitions to erase and correct a bad motor pattern.

You are never going to “undo” 29 years of training.  Don’t fight this, EMBRACE THIS!  Your natural motion has to serve as the foundation of your operational method.

I guess I’ve never counted reps so I don’t have my own statistical data. But from my own experience I know it is much harder to break a bad habit and rebuild a positive one, than to build a positive habit from the start.
Whether you agree with those numbers or not I think we can all agree on the necessity to get as many quality reps as possible. We can also agree that when doing those reps we must be aware of unintended consequences and prevent ingraining bad habits.

If we can agree on those two points then we must also agree on the need to avoid contradictory training.
What I mean by this is that if one aspect of your training tells you to do one thing and another aspect tells you to do the opposite it will cause a freeze under pressure. Similar to how starting too many programs at the same time causes your computer to freeze.

A classic example of this found in Law Enforcement is shooting vs. defensive tactics. Most Law Enforcement firearms training is done on a range from a rooted shooting position. Officers easily receive 300-500 repetitions of standing still in front of a lethal threat and delivering rounds. These same Law Enforcement Officers are trained to move and use leverage and physics to physically control an arrest subject.
Now when those Law Enforcement Officers need to go hands on the conditioned responses are conflicting each other. The result is a freeze when action is needed, even to the point of receiving damage from the control subject. Most officers root right in front of the control subject (the worst possible place to be) and rely on muscle (instead of motion, leverage, and physics) and try to over power the control subject. Unless they are much larger and stronger this approach fails. Their back up arrives and does the same thing, repeat as necessary until physics are on their side (keep adding officers until there is enough mass to over power the control subject). This results in the ever popular pig pile.

What did you think?  Pretty awesome right?  You are probably throwing money at your computer screen now yelling at the internet to send you a copy of the book.  Be patient, all in good time.

From that portion of the book I want you to take away how repetitions ingrain neurological pathways, and how we need those pathways to operate under stress.

I recently went to the L.O.C.K.U.P Instructor school.



L.O.C.K.U.P:
Law Enforcement
Officer
Combat
Kinetics
Unarmed
Panoply

Panoply?? What the fuck does that mean?
1 it means that someone really wanted the acronym to spell out LOCKUP.

2. A complete or impressive collection of things: "their concerns range over the entire panoply of disciplinary functions".
3. A splendid display.
4. Armor

Monopoly means one panoply roughly means everything

The phrase it is most commonly associated with is "The panopoly of Spartan Warrior".  The complete Spartan Panoply consisted of helmet, thorax, greaves, round hoplon/shield, short sword and thrusting spear.

So no matter how ripped a Spartan was they went into battle like this



Not like this



Only folks that went into battle naked were the Gauls.  Who oddly enough were summarily wiped out by the Romans.

Ok back to the point

In this context meaning that skill with all the equipment / weapons (panopoly) a Law Enforcement Officer uses is integrated into the unarmed training.

LOCKUP is run by Kevin Dillon 
(Not to be confused with George “Death Touch / Power of the Force” Dillman)

This guy


Not this guy



Kevin starts the class with a silly martial arts video set to “kung fu fighting” as a icebreaker / introduction
He reveals that he is the person in those videos doing flash tournament fighting and demonstration.  He tells the class that he started training in traditional martial arts in his early teens and then started training in practical application with a Green Beret fresh back from Viet Nam (see easy answer).  He loved it, training and tournament competition were his entire life.

When he became a professional Police Officer and needed to use his skills to control / stop a violent criminals.  He found several times that he would nail them with one of his favorite techniques.  But they would just get back up and keep coming.  That was an eerie sensation for him.  Things that won tournaments were inapplicable for his profession.

He realized even though he was hitting very hard he was hitting targets that score points in tournament but have little to no effect on stopping a threat.

He also realized that if he was going to continue to be a Police Officer he would need to change the way he trains.

The motto of LOCKUP is
“For how we train so shall we fight”

Dillon stopped training for tournament even though he loved tournaments and focused on another area of martial arts.

Dillon then went on to a very good presentation on neurological pathways. 
Which brings us back to the blog.

Dillon discussed the need for repetitions in solid fundamentals to establish a pathway with strong myosin links.

The more reps the stronger the links, the bigger the pathway.

If you are using a new skill, that has lesser pathways than an older similar skill, under the stress of violent physical confrontation you will skip to that stronger pathway.

This accounts for failures in drawing a weapon from a fairly new level 3 holster after using a level 2 for years and years.  This also accounts for Officers that attempted to deploy their Taser (relatively new) but used their firearm by mistake (years and years of repetitions)

So how did he, how do any of use make the transition from traditional training to practical application?  How can we retain and retrieve (under pressure) the skill sets we need and not slip to an unnecessary / ineffectual skill set we still have strong pathways too?

Let’s revisit some answers

Easy answer find an instructor who received lots of training before they had a profession where they have to apply those skills it in the field and has refined what they teach based on what has worked for them. (Like Dillon’s Green Beret, like Dillon himself, Steve Jimerfield, Rory Miller, and what I strive to do).

If someone like that is not available in your area seek out opportunities to travel to where these guys are.  Find Instructor level training.  For civilians see if you are allowed to attend these type of classes.  (You will probably need to know someone who can get you in but it will be worth it).

If neither of those options are viable you are stuck with:

Hard answer you receive lots of training then refine it down yourself.

In this context, and to more directly answer Myron’s question… When you're training, how do you avoid accidentally training "bad" habits that might make your situation worse or get you hurt? How do you not train those "bad" habits but still train the required skill set for a worst-case scenario (like being on the ground/the BJJ example)?... 

I’d start by defining your personal platform and establishing your training goals.

Physical Skills Platform
A use of force continuum is an example of rules of engagement found in most Law Enforcement agencies’ use of force policies.
Here is an example of a use of force continuum
1.      Presence
Physical Fitness
Awareness* situational awareness program
2.      Verbal commands
De-escalation
Communication Skills
3.      Contact Controls
Touching or Seizing the offender
Escort Compliance
Standing Controls
Pain Compliance
Joint Locks
4.      Compliance Techniques
“Soft Hands”
Take Downs
Throws
Pins    
5.      Disabling Techniques
“Hard Hands”
Impact Techniques
Striking / Kicking
6.      Potentially Lethal Force
3 – 5 – 7
Weapons Techniques
If you are going to employ your martial arts skills in the professional use of force you must assure that your own personal style covers all these aspects.
All Operators have to have skill sets at all levels of force.  I like to use this model as a frame work for operators to develop their own operational style.
For example
If you have been training in Karate you should be well versed in Disabling Techniques / “Hard Hands”.  If you want to use Karate as an Operator you will need to round out your own personal style with skills in
·      Contact Controls
·      Compliance Techniques
·      Potentially Lethal Force
There are fantastic throws, sweeps and take downs in Karate, but how many Karate Instructors teach those aspects?  So this hypothetical potential Operator needs to find those lost / under taught elements in his own art or seek out supplemental training to develop those assets.

Then start with human physiology.  What are humans capable of under extreme stress and work backwards to training from there.

Taking time to get into position to execute a perfect oma plata while some one is burying your face in a snow bank might not be feasible.  So why spend a lot of time on oma plata set ups?

So in Myron’s example he is seeking out ground skills.  He does not need to learn the panoply of BJJ (see what I did there), nor does he need to learn the rules of a catch as catch can, or submission wrestling tournament.  Myron wants to learn how to say off his back, and if he can’t then, how to get off his back and out to safety, or, oh shit, barring those two how to stop a threat on top of him if he can’t get off his back.

So be discerning, be respectful, and most important be honest.

Find an instructor in that skill set, tell them why you want to train with them, tell them your concerns about conflicting training, and see if they will work with you. 

It may have to be private instruction.  It may be helping you work on what you need during open gym time.  But an instructor that can help you will be excited by the challenge of helping you.  If they can’t help you their reasons will be something along the lines of my (sport / traditional) art is perfect as I teach it.  It is everything for every body in every circumstance.  You just need to come and train 3 x a week for the next 10-15 years to understand.  If you are not willing to put in 10-15 years to master it then refine it for the needs you had 15 years ago you might want to seek out a different instructor.

If you are going to train with them for an extended time be a wise consumer.  Again be humble be polite, but abstain from training that ingrains habits that are antithetical to your goals.

From Myron’s BJJ example.  If the focus of the day’s class is pulling guard, and you are training because you want to stay off your back.  Getting good at pulling guard is detrimental to you.  So what can you do?  Volunteer to be the all time guy that gets pulled into guard.  Understand the strategy so you can fight against it, avoid being taken to the ground.  If that doesn't fly respectfully find a way to do something else or nothing at all but don’t get good at the opposite of what you want to be good at.  You are paying for training you have every right to only participate in the training you require.

If you are having fun and you understand that what you are doing is just play, that is fine.  There are plenty of Judo classes I have attended where I have thought I will never use this.  But picking up a guy and slamming him into the planet is always fun so I go with the flow.  The “flavor” of my Judo is different from my Sensei’s.  

That is cool we still have fun rolling together and learning from each other.  I’m not worried about ingraining pathways to “play skills”, because - for skills to be available under stress you need additional training methods anyway…
(was that a killer transition to the next topic or what?)

The reason I suggest all that gets us back on topic, you need to get in quality reps.  You need to build strong neurological pathways to fundamentally sound skill, that you can retrieve and execute under the stress of physical violence

“For how we train so shall we fight”
“We do not rise to the occasion, we fall to out level of training…in an adrenalized body”

So in summary find good skills that fit the needs of your personal “combatives” platform.
Then gets lots of quality reps in those skills.

Develop your own tool box then - DRILL THOSE SKILLS!!!!!

Next, how to we avoid slipping from these skills to older maybe more deeply ingrained neurological pathways?  How do we assure we retain and can retrieve the quality skills we need under pressure?

When you survive something scary your brain marks those memories with a synaptic tag using dopamine.  Basically like a giant yellow post it note.  Your brain is saying hey dumb dumb we just lived through this scary thing, be sure we can remember what we did to survive if we are ever in a similar situation.

Most people have heard of, or maybe even experienced the phenomenon of “my life flashed before my eyes” when someone lived through something scary.
That is your brain searching for dopamine tags to a similar experience.  If you don’t have any relevant tags you see your entire life.

So we need to put dopamine tags onto the quality skill neurological pathways?

How is this done?  Lucky for us your brain can’t tell the difference between surviving a stressful event and surviving realistic stressful training or make believe.



That is why quality reality based scenario training done as realistically as safely possible is so important.
Studies also show that people who studied in the same room they took a test in did much better than people that were moved into a different room for the same test.

Rarely will you need to fight for your life inside a Dojo.  So environmental training in the elements on the terrain is crucial to building stronger pathways to quality skills.

So in summary to answer Myron’s question:
How do you gain all of the skill sets required with out accidentally training "bad" habits that might get you hurt?

Find an instructor who received lots of training before they had a profession where they have to apply those skills it in the field and have refined what they teach based on what has worked for them.

If someone like that is not available in your area seek out opportunities to travel to where these guys are.  Find Instructor level training.  For civilians see if you are allowed to attend these type of classes. 
{Shameless self plug the Violence Dynamics Seminar is chalked full of those types of guys and provided instructor level training}

If neither of those options are viable you

Seek out training then refine it down yourself.

If so, start by developing your personal platform and defining your training goals.  After that focus on human physiology.  What are humans capable of under extreme stress? Work backwards to training from there.

All of that is to refine your skill sets down to what works for you.  Once you have discovered that you need to build the strongest neurological pathways to those skill sets possible.

This is done with lots of high quality reps.  DRILL THOSE SKILLS!!!!!

After those skills have been ingrained you need to get them form the mid brain to the hind brain (survival instinct).  You need to own those skills on a cellular level.

That is achieved by not only “pressure testing” these skills with scenarios but ingraining these skills sets under difficult conditions in the actual environments you will need to use them in.  Creating that dopamine tag for retention and retrieval under “combat stress”

I hoped this helped

Train Hard, Train Smart, Be Safe.


3 comments:

  1. Great blog. If you use Hicks Law, gross motor movements and what realistically ends violent confrontations your basically left with striking the head and throat and running. This is purely from a civilian point of view.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Kasey this is just what I am trying to do in my training ! Consider this a pre order for your book and get writing !

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