Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Hard Training for Hard Times

Hard Training for Hard Times
By Fernan Vargas & Robert Red feather

Front line operators need no-nonsense techniques which wont fail under pressure. One way to
ensure that an operator acquires such skill is to ensure that they train properly. Chief Instructor
Robert Red feather has trained local and federal Law enforcement agents, as well as service men from all branches of service and offers the following advice for running a realistic and functional training program.

One of the most important lessons in knife fighting is respect. A student must first and foremost
learn to respect the blade. A knife is arguably the most deadly weapon an operator may ever
face. It doesn’t jam, never runs out of ammo and can be effective in almost anyone’s hand. In
close a blade can take a man apart in a matter of seconds. Training with a wiggly rubber knife
just doesn’t cut the muster. Training with a soft blade does nothing to drive home to a student
how deadly a knife can be. Chief Instructor Red Feather recommends that all training be
conducted with hard blades, preferably metal with a marking edge. A hard blade HURTS!
When a student feels a little pain or discomfort, what they are really doing is learning to respect
the knife. If a student knows that reckless abandon will sting into tomorrow they will be less
likely to be cavalier in training and real life. Training in such a manner also creates a stressful
training condition. When students learn to function under stress in training they are far more
prepared to deal with the stress of a real life or death situation.

Many programs erroneously believe that the more techniques, drills, and material they include in their programs will make them better practitioners. The truth is that scientific research has
shown that under stress the body is only able to perform a limited number of skills, mostly gross
motor skills. The mathematical formula known as Hick’s law is also of note here. Hick’s law
basically states that the more solutions one has to any given problem, the longer the person will
take in answering the problem. Therefore if you have to mentally search through a high volume
of techniques for the right one you will effectively create a log Jam in your brain. Chief
Instructor Red feather for this reason stresses good solid basics and a relatively small skill set. If
a student has less to remember and work on they can become functional with a smaller skill set in a relatively short amount of time. Recall of the techniques are far less hindered this way. Solid
Basics in combination with high levels of repetition in a realistic training environment is the
recipe for functional skill.

Realism in training is key. Chief Instructor Red Feather recommends several key ingredients to
effective knife training. First as mentioned above is realistic contact and a stressful environment.

Second is psychological desensitizing. In Apache Knife training fake stage blood is frequently
used so that students will become accustomed to the site of their own blood and the enemies. By
doing so students will be less likely to freeze in awe of the sight of blood. Real time is also
important. A student can perform any number of sophisticated techniques as long as their
opponents cooperate and move slow enough. Real time training against an uncooperative
opponent will quickly weed out any techniques which are more fantasy than reality. Training
against an uncooperative opponent also teaches the student to do just that fight the uncooperative enemy, not a friend who stands still for you. Weapon selection should also be noted. Train with weapons which resemble your duty /carry weapon. Chief Instructor Red feather always trains students with training blades which resemble K-bars and small folding knives. By doing so students become familiar with the range and feel required to operate the weapons they are most likely to carry. Marines or soldiers in the field carry large k-bars or other similar large blades, and when on R&R they will usually carry a much smaller civilian style folder.

One of the most overlooked aspects of realistic training is grip training. Stabbing or cutting the
air will do nothing to improve your self defense arsenal. Students should actively stab the hard
earth, wooden posts, and other objects with their trainers in order to develop the grip necessary to control their weapons. Flesh gives but bones are realistic obstacles which a student must become accustomed to. Stage blood can also be invaluable in developing a proper grip. If you or your opponent has been cut it is reasonable to believe that blood on your hands will be slippery, or sticky and can compromise your grip. One again, creating conditions in training which resemble the realities of combat will help a student prepare for what is really likely to happen.

Regardless of the program one is training in, the above recommendations will help to make your
training more realistic and effective. Take it from an instructor like Chief Instructor Red feather
who teaches from experience and not theory. It could help save your life.


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