Training in the right setting can be a critical factor to real-life preparedness. Throughout my experience as a Krav Maga instructor, I have noticed that 100% gym training often leaves people in the lurch. Improper technique, bad technique adaptation, and poor situational awareness when it comes to really needing to protect themselves in times of danger are only a few of the potentially harmful outcomes.
The typical Krav Maga gym is a great place to start your training, however once the fundamentals are learned, the instructor/student should and MUST venture out and apply the techniques in varied training environments. For instance, in a recent Krav Maga and shooting workshop the students performed pistol disarms on REAL pistols (safetied of course!). The experience of working with different types of pistols was that the students immediately recognized the need to adjust their technique for each situation.
Martial Arts gyms in general create very safe and controlled training spaces. Due to this, students often develop gym habits like poor attention to their surroundings. The training room is always the same; same entrance, same exit, same "props". Because of this, the student puts his/her situational awareness on autopilot. Also since the props are also the same for the most part, students stop using them as possible tools of self defense. In self defense EVERYTHING is always in play!
I regularly train students at the park at all hours of the day. The park creates an infinite number of variables for situational awareness as well as technique application and modification. Recently, late in the evening, I trained a mother and daughter how to defend against various bear hugs/grabs from different directions. During one of the drills, one of the students had to walk casually around the park and the other had to surprise them with a bear hug. The defender quickly realized that in most cases she can preempt or prevent the attack just by listening carefully and hearing her attacker approach (from the rocks and dirt moving under the attacker’s feet).
Weather also often creates various limitations and technique adaptations. In my previous work as an instructor in New York City and Detroit I had the unpleasant experience of full-on northern winters with sub-zero temperatures and lots of snow and ice. I quickly realized that I needed to put a strong emphasis on hand strikes, balance, and fall breaks to cope with the winter weather. One of my students saved himself from real injury by using a fall break when slipping on ice in his driveway! Additionally, clothing became a big factor of applying techniques; heavy clothing slows us down.
Krav Maga instructors must create, and students must request, a varied training environment; whether it is training defenses from different positions or in different conditions. Each defense/attack must be trained from every position possible: standing, sitting, laying, and everything in between. Different training conditions must also be applied: on uneven ground (dirt, rocks, etc.), in the rain, in the dark, in the water (pool, sea, lake, etc), and in snow and ice.
We don't have the benefit of choosing our place of being attacked, so we must always be prepared for anything!
Thank you for reading,
Owner | Instructor
Tactical Fitness Austin
Editor: Ilana Diamond