Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Best Self Defense System, 5

Most fights last from 2-4 seconds. If you're dealing with multiple attackers, and you're good enough to fight your way out of the situation, it may last several seconds. That's all. All your training, all your preparation and all your forethought come down to a moment of truth measured in mere seconds.

Among the grim realities associated with that brief span are the adrenaline rush and the sheer chaos of the moment. I've already discussed the need for adrenaline stress conditioning in a previous post (and I hope to write more about it). Adrenaline will help you deal with the chaos of the moment, but you also need to train for it.

When I speak of training to deal with the chaos of combat, I refer to what takes place after that split-second startle response. The startle response is spontaneous, and you should train so that what follows is as well.

Spontaneity is the ability to react appropriately to your adversary's unexpected & unrehearsed (by you) moves. There is no time to run through a mental catalogue of techniques and select one that is appropriate to the moment. Your actions need to be extemporaneous, and they need to be right.

Here is where I feel a lack in my own personal self defense. My previous training stopped short of giving me that spontaneity. Goshin Ryu Jujitsu puts a heavy stress on learning many techniques. Before my training was cut short, I began to see that the techniques were tied together by certain underlying principles. It dawned on me that I was supposed to internalize these principles so that in the right moment, the right technique would just flow out.

I believe that approach would have worked, but my training was cut short. In the intervening years I have not found a practice partner who would stick with the training, so I never completed the internalization process. In fact, the one drawback of this approach is that it takes a long time before it clicks, and you become truly spontaneous.

Since then, I have discovered another approach. It is used by two systems that I know of, and -- to a certain degree -- by individual instructors, like Keith Pascal. One of the systems is the Russian martial art, Systema. The other is Guided Chaos.

Both systems teach and train principles, but they also train students to respond to unchoreographed attacks right from the beginning. One of the methods used by both is slow motion sparring. An advantage of slow motion sparring is that you can practice moves that might seriously injure a practice partner at full speed.

I own some of the Systema videos, and, while I found them enlightening, they were of limited training value without a partner. The Guided Chaos material has some training material aimed at those training solo. I bought their book Attackproof some time ago, and more recently obtained their conditioning video. While I do not expect these to entirely ready me for the exchanges of combat, the drills are designed to lead to balance, body unity, sensitivity, looseness and economy of motion.

These are all building blocks of spontaneity in combat. I plan to work on these until I can find a committed training partner. I will let you know how I am progressing in future posts.

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