Replication training: The next generation of scenario-based training
In a fight you are going to be off-balance psychologically, emotionally, and physically. Through years of research, drills, and experiments at Blauer Tactical Systems, we have created a three-step drilling recipe that allows you to experience — in advance of a real attack — the physical positional variables of a real fight. We refer to this as the 'Off-Balance' training paradigm.
Step 1: Dissect the Scenario. Identify the “Murphy Moments” and connect the attack to a realistic pre-contact build-up so that your brain mentally blueprints realistic pre-contact use (this helps decrease reaction time) and work this encounter slowly and analytically.
Step 2: Add Fluidity and Timing to the Assault. Pay special attention to the “street” flavor of the attack. At this phase it’s critical that you integrate protective gear so that there is a collision at the interception point. The “collision” is crucial to your appreciation and understanding of what works when and why. During this phase, exploration of the Primal, Protective and Tactical responses from the S.P.E.A.R. System is also paramount to startle-flinch conversion; that’s the secret to creating 'position' for your complex motor skill transition (i.e. getting to your art or system).
The Primal response is elicited when there is a moment of total surprise in the attack and the startle flinch response is solely responsible for our safety. The Protective response implies partial use of cognitive efforts to push away the danger, and Tactical response is the total cognitive use of skills after a “micro-flinch.”
Step 3: Force-on-Force Ballistic Micro-Fight (BMF). Next, you work the scenario from top to bottom adding CWCT and S.P.E.A.R. intercepts. You still work the Primal, Protective and Tactical versions so you don’t get overconfident and think you will superhumanly intercept all attacks. But, with both participants in gear, you WILL experience real energy, resistance and pressure so that you understand the most important aspect of making stable contact: balance and position. The secret to the BMF is that we deliberately practice OFF-BALANCE so that when we fight in the real world, off-balance is our ON-BALANCE. Hopefully this makes sense.
But training can’t just be physical; it must address and nurture the psychological for it to be reliable. This is what the community refers to as 'stress inoculation.’ However, there's an overlooked aspect to scenario design and equipment choice. It’s important to note that very often only the role-player (bad-guy) is wearing padded assailant gear. This training, while good, is only partial.
See, if the good-guys know they won’t be challenged, then their skill and ability will be influenced by this knowledge. If the gear you use also distorts proximity sense or prevents the participants from experiencing tactical “closure" (the totality of the fight), then training — once again is partial.
This is how and where advanced scenario training can really inspire and truly empower.
It’s hard to avoid mentioning our equipment here — and some readers may think this is some shameless plug — but the truth is I designed our gear to support 'very' realistic training. We spent years and tens of thousands of dollars on generations of prototypes to be able to create equipment we truly felt could improve decision-making, tactical skills, and the subtle and somewhat esoteric challenge of cultivating fear and pain management. It was a tall order and it took over five years before we had a working model.
The secret is our ‘impact-reduction’ design and the fact that 'both' good guy and bad guy wear gear. That means all the drills still inject fear…and fear afflicts performance. That's how you stress inoculate. If the gear distorts the reality, then you've developed a blueprint around something 'else'.
Basically this means, the only way to test your timing, theories and spontaneity is by practicing force-on-force drills where 'collision' is driven by position. What this means is that all conventional and theoretical tactics are always practiced 'in proper position' ...but reality really determines position, right?
That’s what HIGH GEAR will do for you: inspire fear (respect of the attack), provide feedback (through pain, at least a little), and allow you to move (or be moved).
a. Verbal Assault: You want gear that allows you to speak clearly (verbal is critical in a realistic scenario depiction).
b. Realistic Mobility: You want to move freely and you want your role-player to move freely. (Bulky gear forces practitioners to develop tactics around the gear instead of around the fight).
c. Transitions from Range-to-Range as Necessary: You gear must allow you to shift instantly (heavy gear slows down movement so that you develop timing to an unrealistic stimulus).
d. Ergonomically Realistic: You want gear that challenges you to make contact with a target as it would appear in the street. Bulky gear distorts proximity sense and creates a false sense of follow-through because the bulk moves the slower target closer to you.
I have often shared my research and strategy on how the S.P.E.A.R. System and HIGH GEAR can help make every police officer or soldier safer. The secret is in following a formula that will allow you to validate the theoretical self-defense, combative or defensive tactics premise of your chosen approach, preferably in advance of the real attack.