Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Real Deal on Reality Week

Practicing Choke Releases in the Indoor Alley
How will you use your martial arts training outside the studio? That is the question we tried to answer last week at First Defense Krav Maga, where we conducted "Reality Week." All classes took place under unusual conditions -- wearing street clothes, and, most of the time, outside of the studio.

In the picture at left, we are practicing choke releases in an "indoor alley." I'm performing a P1 technique after my partner applies a choke. We're training in the concrete corridor connecting the back doors of the various retail properties of which our school is part.

During this session we also moved to a more narrow part of the indoor alley, perhaps four feet wide. In such a confined space, you lose control of distance and as well as some of the longer-range tools you might use elsewhere.

Donnie Yen as Ip Man Fighting in an Elevator, "Ip Man 3"
At the end of this class we simulated combat in an elevator. By boxing off the end of the narrow indoor alley, the instructors gave students a chance to defend ourselves until the "elevator door" "opened," and we were able to escape. Although I immediately thought of the scene in the recent movie "Ip Man 3," (my review here), my experience was nothing like Donnie Yen's!

In an earlier class, we trained outside, in the complex parking lot. One of the more enjoyable drills involved trying to walk past a series of parked cars. The goal was to simulate trying to return to one's vehicle. We all knew there were two or more other students lurking somewhere nearby, waiting to attack us. Regardless of knowing what was going to happen, I think every student jumped a bit when one or more simulated assailants leaped from behind a car.

I watch as another student (arms raised) is jumped by attackers.
The combination of the outdoor environment, the sun in our eyes, and the chance for the attacker to hide behind a large object all contributed to the feeling.

That word, "feeling," is key to the experience. When anyone starts training in a studio, there is a certain amount of apprehension. I felt uneasy, at least, when I first started training. I was unfamiliar with the location, the rules, the students, the system, the uniform -- practically everything was new. After several months, I'm still unfamiliar with many of those elements, but I'm more comfortable with my surroundings and fellow students.

By taking class outside, and wearing street clothes, two of the elements of familiarity were removed. We're still learning and practicing Krav Maga, but now we're working in odd locations and restricted to some degree by our clothing. Oddly enough, this is closer to the "real deal" than being in the studio -- we're in the real world in the sort of clothing we wear every day.

Although I had to travel midweek to the Air Force Academy, and had two family obligations on Saturday, I greatly enjoyed the reality week classes I could attend. I look forward to the next time we train this way!

How does your school or system integrate "reality" and environmental changes into its training?

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