Years ago, there was a training concept that called for training to be general and to reflect natural movements. The idea was to make defensive movements simple and similar enough that you would unconsciously get your body to respond. The example was using the Field Interview stance as your defensive, fighting and shooting stance. It made sense then and it makes sense now.
There is a shift in training to become more “realistic” and goal oriented. To that end, most modern trainers have modified their programs to reflect this. Protective training suits have enabled force on force training to allow participants to deliver, and receive, full power strikes without fear of injury. This has taught many students the difference between solid, effective blows versus soft hits and pulled punches. Psychologically, the effects have also produced students who may have had limited exposure to physical exertion and contact, the ability to interact on that “realistic” level. The only drawback to this type of training is when the instructor allows the students to use power without the appropriate targeting.
A concept that has been taught and refined by Tony Blauer, founder of the popular S.P.E.A.R. system of defensive tactics, is known as Closest Weapon, Closest Target (CWCT). If your closest weapon is your knee or forearm, and the closest target is merely a few inches away, why wind up to deliver that all powerful strike? That act only succeeds in telegraphing your move and alerting your opponent that a blow is on the way. This may sound like a normal training issue that can be addressed during a tactical analysis, but what I see in the training suit force on force exercises are the students trying to strike each other as hard as possible. This is because they have the protective gear on and can get the immediate feedback from the loud thud upon impact.
I remember years ago, when training in a large dojo, we would hear the loud report from a student roundhouse kick to a heavy bag. Everyone would immediately look over to see who had delivered such a powerful kick. It was all very impressive. The students would walk up and align themselves perfectly in front of the heavy bag. They would take a deep breath, wind up and let it rip. Each student wanted to replicate that all powerful strike. We would joke that if we were ever attacked by a heavy bag, we would be prepared.
Today, the trend is to suit up two or more “players” and let them go at it. Very ugly and very little technique or appropriate application of force is developed. The reality of that is the belief that in a “real” fight, anything goes. In its most basic form, that statement may be true. However, does that concept apply to firearms training also? Should we revert to the old “spray and pray” philosophy? Would it be an appropriate way to teach precision and tactical driving? My concern is that we have become “specialists” in certain aspects of training and general practitioners in others.
In the world of professional protection, we may be called upon to fight or persuade, control or deliver lethal force. Our training should encompass any and all foreseeable situations and an appropriate response to it. The commonality of training should allow us to move from one level of force to the next in a controlled and effective manner, based on sound tactics.