What Gets Trained Gets Done

I got into a bit of a polite discussion with a very popular tactical training group on Facebook this past weekend. I will refrain from actually mentioning the name of that group for a couple of reasons. First, the discussion ended amicably, and I have no desire to create hostilities where none currently exist. Second, I have even less of a desire to create enemies in the self-defense & tactical training world. I’m a small fish in this pond, and I admit that I have plenty to learn about the topics of violence and personal defense.

In this case, however, I believe I was completely in the right.

The discussion centered on this training video:

I like the technique. I have no disagreement with the actual defensive instruction being offered here. The part of the video I felt compelled to criticize was the way Amber handed the training weapon back to her partner. I posited that training in this way – by actually handing the weapon to the person from whom you just took it – will be replicated in a real-life situation.
Enter the owner of the page, who had posted the video:

“Except that you have to do something with it, and that something will never be what you would do in reality. I’ve heard this “rule” for years, and I’ve never seen or experienced it in reality.  

“Training is full of things that you wouldn’t want to replicate in an actual violent encounter. The brain is capable of recognizing the difference, despite what many folks will tell you.”

The disagreement I have with this post derives from the anecdotal nature of the reply. “I haven’t seen it, therefore it isn’t a common occurrence.” The problem is, of course, is that such behavior happens all the time. And anyone who understands the role of hormones in high-stress situations could quickly tell you that the brain doesn’t operate normally during actual violent encounters. Gross motor skills and repetitive response to stimuli will be the order of the day.
I responded to the post by pointing out a couple of popularized examples of the very thing I mentioned happening in live-fire situations (Loren Christensen talks about them in his book On Combat). Here was his response:

“Yes, I’ve heard of the single incident that Christensen cites. I also highly doubt the accuracy of officers pulling finger guns on suspects. We trained the exact way you describe, for years. Ultimately, I determined no matter what, you are doing something that shouldn’t materialize in reality, and I’d simply rather get more reps on the technique.

“As to “what gets trained gets done”, I’ve trained to hit focus mitts for countless hours and reps, punching to the side of my partner’s head, always missing them. In violent encounters, I’ve never had to fight the urge to punch to the side of an assailant’s face.”

At this point, I figured I would bow out rather than pursue the matter and risk creating bad feelings in a public forum. Again, it is worth noting that this individual is making sweeping generalizations based on individual perceptions of what, “shouldn’t materialize in reality.”

What we think is real and what is actually real, however, are two entirely different things. This is especially true in violent encounters and human interaction. Most of us are under-prepared for violence. It is not a common, day-to-day experience for us to confront life-or-death situations. As such, what we think happens in violent encounters differs markedly from what actually happens. We can’t base our reality on what we expect will occur in a violent exchange.

My son has recently enlisted in the United States Army. This past Memorial Day weekend, we had the opportunity to visit the base and spend a day with our son. We spent a lot of time sitting at tables eating and talking, so I took the opportunity to address this question of ‘What Gets Trained Gets Done’ with him.

As one might expect, he likened the type of training in the video to what he does in basic training. “We don’t do anything we don’t want to do in a firefight,” he said. “What we do in training is what we do in combat.” This is true whether he is in a hand-to-hand or weapons-free situation. They train it the way they want to do it.

When the bullets are flying, the luxury of thinking about what to do does not exist. We are left to the level of our training, and if that training included a disarm followed by handing the seized weapon back to the simulated assailant, that is very likely what will happen under live circumstances.

So what do we do instead of handing the weapon back to our attacker (simulated or otherwise)? I recommend a few things:

  • drop the weapon somewhere that will be difficult for anyone but official parties to retrieve – a mailbox, a drainage sewer, a bank drop slot. You just want to know that your assailant will not be able to reacquire the weapon and use it against you again.
  • if you choose to hold your attacker in place with the weapon (and be careful with this on a legal level; check your local laws), keep the weapon in hand until officials are close. Then place the weapon on the ground and either cover it with something or step on it. Whatever you do, do NOT have it in your hand when police arrive on the scene. Being mistaken for the actual aggressor will likely not end well.
  • carry the weapon with you as you flee to a safe area. There you can call police to help manage the weapon. As before, do NOT have the weapon in your hand when the police arrive to help.
  • hand the weapon to someone who is not the aggressor. This could be a friend, your spouse, or anyone you are with who is not responsible for attacking you. As above, when the police arrive, be sure that the person who received the weapon from you is not holding it when authorities arrive.

So how do you train this kind of approach to disarms? Here are a few tips:

  • alternate between disarming your ‘attacker’ and being disarmed. At no point do you actually hand the gun back to your partner; it is his/her responsibility to take it from you.
  • practice actually ridding yourself of the weapon. Drop it and cover it with a foot or a trashcan or any object that will secure the weapon in place until ‘authorities’ arrive. Before the next rep, your partner can collect the weapon from its hiding place.
  • practice disarming your partner and then strategically retreating followed by running away. Once you arrive in your practice safe area, hand the weapon to a third party. He/she can hand off the weapon to your partner or place it on a surface (a table, the floor, a chair) to be retrieved for the next repetition of the exercise.

What you do in training will very likely manifest in an actual encounter. It is way too easy to just thoughtlessly hand your practice weapon back to your uke. This could have dire consequences when things are real and tense and adrenaline-enhanced. Practice it the way you want it done in actual application.

Anything else has the potential to end very very poorly.

Categories Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close