Replication Training: The Next Generation of Scenario-Based Drills

By Tony Blauer

Tony BlauerI just finished a photo shoot at Black Belt magazine where I shared a refined strategy on how the SPEAR System & HIGH GEAR can help make every martial artist safer. The secret is in following a formula that will allow you to validate the theoretical self-defense premises of your chosen system or style (in advance of a real attack).

Through years of research, drills, and experiments we have created a 3-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 ''Off-Balance'' training paradigm (in a real fight you are ''off-balance'' psychologically, emotionally and physically).

Step 1: Dissect the scenario: identify the Murphy Moments, 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 super analytically.

Step 2: Add fluidity and timing to the assault, paying special attention to the ''street'' flavor of the attack. At this phase its 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, & why. During this phase exploration of the Primal, Protective & Tactical responses from the SPEAR 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). (This will be covered in great detail at the combatives camp this August).

Step 3. Force-on-Force BMF. Next you work the scenario from top to bottom adding CWCT and SPEAR intercepts. You still work the Primal, Protective & Tactical versions so you don’t get over confident 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.... and that is balance & position. (The secret to the BMF is that we deliberately practice OFF-BALANCE so that when we fight real world, off-balance is our ON-BALANCE - Does that make sense?)

But training can''t just be physical, it must address and nurture the psychological for it to be reliable. That''s where the science of your protective gear comes in...the secret to HIGH GEAR is its impact reduction design. Because there is still risk during contact. 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''.

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? And that''s what HIGH GEAR will do for you: inspire fear (respect of the attack), provide feedback (through pain - at least a little) and allows 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 the challenges you to make contact with a target as it would appear in the street (bulky gear distorts proximity sense and creates false sense of follow through because the bulk moves the slower target closer to you).

For more information on the SPEAR System & HIGH GEAR training, please visit

Tony Blauer

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