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6 keys to injury prevention during simulation training

Larry Nadeau's "Force Relation to Target" concept remains an excellent guide to keep your DT training safe

Injury prevention during defensive tactics simulation training — always one of the goals of DT instructors — often conflicts with the need to provide high level, dynamic, high intensity simulation training. Training injures do occur. Keeping everyone safe requires properly trained instructors conducting well thought out simulations assisted by properly equipped and trained demonstrators. Larry Nadeau, the developer of the ‘Force Relation to Target’ concept, likes to say “a goof in the suit is still a goof.” Protective gear is important but gear can’t protect you if the simulations aren’t properly designed and conducted. In addition, the demonstrator must be properly supervised and trained to operate safely and effectively in his/her protective equipment.

I’ve known Larry Nadeau for twenty years. Larry is the founder of the internationally known Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) Training Program, a women’s self defense program. He is a lifelong martial artist in the Korean Hapkido System. Larry is also a noted defensive tactics instructor who developed the RedMan Simulation Instructor Training Programs with me.

Needless to say, Larry understands the need for defensive tactics instructors to prevent injuries to their demonstrators due to strikes directed to them. The difference between Larry and me is, as Larry likes to say, he spent his martial arts sparring time trying to avoid being hit while I seemed to like the beating that I took in my sparring matches.

I learned and practiced as an “unconscious competent” the Force Relation to Target Concept that Larry Nadeau so brilliantly conceptualized. The difference is that what took me ten years of severe beatings to learn, Larry can share with new officers in the period of several hours. This is more efficient, less painful, and less debilitating than the old fashion “learning the hard way” method.

Force Relation to Target Defined
This concept trains a demonstrator in a protective training suit how to move and position him/herself to avoid injuries associated with the transfer of kinetic energy. Force Relation to Target allows the demonstrator to maneuver his/her bodies as a believable, maneuverable target for the officers involved in the simulation without having to take the full brunt of the force directed at them.

Larry Nadeau defines Force Relation to Target as the “trained energy or force generated by a weapon in motion with proper technique is very dependent upon the target in its various states or movements for optimal energy transfer. Manipulation of the target will produce varying degrees of kinetic energy transfer from the weapon to said target. As aggressors, our goal is to manipulate the known targets in such a way as to limit the ability of kinetic energy to penetrate our protective equipment. By manipulating the intended target as an aggressor, we can control the Point of Contact and the kinetic energy transferred by the weapon. Through a complete knowledge of a participants previously trained weapons and intended targets, visual identification of the incoming strike and/or developing a sensitivity to compressing gear, we can manipulate the Point of Contact. This allows our protective equipment to “catch” most of the intended energy the weapon has generated.”

For a better understanding of this concept, take a moment now to watch the video in the sidebar to the right.

There are six components to the Force Relation to Target concept.  Briefly, they are:

1. Stay loose (muscle tension)

Example of possible injury: Tightening up your body in anticipation of taking a strike to your body.
Reasoning: Staying loose is the opposite of most people’s conventional thinking but look at the way it works for babies and intoxicated persons in car crashes who avoid being hurt because they don’t know enough or don’t know that they are going to be in a crash.

2. Don’t get rigid (slack in joints)

Example of possible injury: Allowing your arm or leg to straighten out (locking out the joint) prior to being struck.
Reasoning: This is the cause of many common sports injuries with examples in Mixed Martial Arts of injuries caused by joint locks or strikes to the leg when the leg is rigid.

3. Avoid planting arms and legs against objects (ground, walls, vehicles, persons, etc.)

Example of possible injury: If you place your weight on one foot and it gets hit, force will be transferred more efficiently into that leg.
Reasoning: Placing weight on an appendage increases the force transferred though that body part. By transferring weight to the appendance on the other side to the body, you allow the transfer of force through the appendage being struck to be reduced.

4. Don’t get braced against objects (ground, walls, vehicles, persons, etc.)

Example of possible injury: If you allow yourself to be positioned flush against a wall, the floor, or any solid surface, the force of the strike will be transferred though your body with no chance for the body to move and, therefore, less efficiently transfer force.
Reasoning: Allowing your body to move when being struck minimizes the transferring force through a solid body because the body can move away from the strike.

5. Don’t absorb movement (by moving into strike)

Example of possible injury: A demonstrator moves towards the student who is striking at him / her increasing the intensity of the strike.
Reasoning: Moving into a strike, in fact, creates a head-on collision which allows for the greatest transfer of force.

6. Attempt rolling movements (by moving with strike)

Example of possible injury: When the demonstrator is struck by the student and, if the demonstrator holds his/her position, the full force of the strike will be transfer into his/her body.
Reasoning: Moving away from the strike help to reduce the transfer of force. You are partially “slipping” the strike while allowing the student to practice their strikes.

Practical Exercise
Larry Nadeau is a master of the Force Relation to Target Concept. Watch this training video that shows me hitting Larry with some high-intensity strikes. You be the judge. Can you see the Force Relation to Target Concept in action?

Larry allows me to make contact with the protective suit to simulate a real life application of these strikes so the student knows that s/he is hitting correctly. But, and it is an important but, Larry positions his body and maneuvers his body to take the “bite” out of these focused strikes. He is effective without being incapacitated. His safety is assured not by luck — but by his training and skill. Remember, if you depend on luck you need to be lucky every day. Conversely, you only have to have to be unlucky once.

The Force Relation to Target Concept is an important instructor/demonstrator survival tactic. You need to learn it and practice it. Use it to keep you and your demonstrators safe and in the game.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions at gtklugiewicz@cs.com.

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