Saturday, July 25, 2015

Challenges in training - congruency

Do you ever ruminate on how many various aspects have impact on the way you train, and down the road, possibly, on how effective your training is? Obviously, certain approaches to training dictate the manner of doing it, but how far/deep do we really ponder on those things?

Let me explain MY meaning behind the term congruency as used here. It would be - training in the way that most closely resemble the circumstances of the performance that the training process is meant to prepare us for. May sound obvious, but is it really? Let's see how far I can take it...

But of course...

For the purposes of this writeup, I will focus on the "functional" motivation for training in combative/martial activities (be it competition or self-protection), thus leaving out those driven by the aesthetic urges. What I will be saying here may also apply to the primarily traditional and historical students of martial ARTS, albeit in a slightly different manner.

So, for the above declared purpose of functional training, things could look fairly simple on the first sight - make sure to train with partners that resist enough to present the adequate challenge, while adhering to the governing rules of the event we are preparing for (where applicable). In sports...well, is there anything more to it that needs being mentioned? Let me put it this way - I remember reading an account of Royler Gracie training his students at the academy for an upcoming competition. Namely, the students were complaining about having to train with air-conditioning turned off and windows on the gym closed, in the heat of the Brazilian summer.  Royler's response was something along the lines of: "You will understand once we get to the venue - a stuffy, crowded arena without AC"! See, it makes sense, right? It is now easy to understand that all the people who trained in those nice, ventilated and cooled gyms would have more things to deal with.

By the same token, still in terms of sport-related activities, do you always train in the same conditions, simply because that is how things are in your training place? What if the competition hall will have much brighter or dimmer lights? Different mats maybe? Will you take it for granted and try to "go with the flow" or maybe try to somehow emulate those differences in training?

Now, we move on to the "real world, self defense" side of  the tracks. Obviously, the sheer number of all imaginable situations is impossible to be replicated in training, but there are some common denominators that are very important. For starters, do you even train always in the same place? If so, does it dictate the kind of clothes you will wear during the sessions, or even more importantly, the footwear? Let's say there are no such "house rules"...but let's say it is an indoor location. So, do you always work out in the clothes that are most comfortable for you? You know, the sport shoes, sweatsuit, shorts, t-shit... But what if you spend most of your days wearing jeans, boots, maybe a vest and a helmet? Yeah, construction worker of sorts! Would it make a difference"?

How about stepping out and actually trying a change in the training environment itself? I have already written elsewhere about uneven surfaces, disproportionate force etc. But there is more to it. If we address the issue of fighting with and against weapons, mixing it up with different "tools" is not the only concern... How do you choose your training weapons/facsimiles? Is it simply the matter of availability/price, or do you actually try to make it as close in looks and feel to the one you carry on you daily? Do you even carry? If not, you probably hope for using what happens to be at hand in the case of "may you never need it" going down the drain. But then, are you diversified enough? Maybe somebody may think that if you spend some time with a good FMA group it would cover quite a wide scope of options - after all once you are handy with an eskrima/arnis stick and knife, it is easy to adapt. Hm, not to burst anybody's bubble, but from experience I can tell you that a lead pipe or a baseball bat behave differently, and require some time spent on getting acquainted with. But moreover, could you use a brick or a rock with some effectiveness? Flexible implements like chains and belts? Hey, let's go back to our construction worker! Can you handle a hammer combatively?

With all that off my chest, I hope to get a bit more coherent now. The point of this article was not have you lose focus in training or "spread you thin", depending on the available time for working on your fighting ability. Obviously, we need to look at things from the possible vs. probable perspective and in line with Pareto's law find out what techniques and methods will give the most bang for the buck...especially for a beginner or someone on the early stages of training.

No, my message was - DON'T get complacent and stuck in a rut! If nothing else, there are some ides here to entertain and play with during the summer vacation ;-)


Sean Stark said...

I actually have done a bit of play with a 5lb sledge hammer. It's quite interesting and can teach a lot about leverage if you break away from your normal understanding of the sledge hammer.

Dragan Milojevic said...

Good idea! I do that sort of experimentation with Torqueblades, but will not shy from hammers, ax handles and other utility tools either.