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Realistic Training Equates to Realistic Fighting

One of the things I was taught as a special agent in the military and as a civilian agent was to “Train Like You Fight, Fight Like You Train”. I incorporated this mentality into all my martial art classes and courses I have ever taught.

You see, if you train like most martial art classes do, throwing your reverse punch and leaving your arm out there so your opponent can execute his ten techniques, that is exactly what is going to happen in a real fight.  I remember once long ago, when I was a kid, I was in a fight and I frikken actually screamed for a time out.  I was so used to play wrestling with my friends, and it spilled over into a real fight.  

In this article, I want to talk about what this really means, and how you can apply it in your training. The theme, which highlights training in a realistic manner, sounds like something we shouldn’t need to do.

Why would we need to be reminded to train like we fight?

The reason is that many martial art and self-defense courses think they are training for a real fight, but most are missing the mark. Most of these martial artists will never experience a real fight or real life and death situation. When they do they believe they have been trained to really defend themselves, when in reality they have been going through the motions and reinforcing bad habits.

Fight Like You Train:

Experienced professionals like myself know that operational conditions can change in matter of seconds. They go from the routine, boring, daily activities we experience as soldiers or special agents, to high intensity combat situations very quickly.

In order to fight effectively under stressful conditions, you must be physically and mentally prepared.  That means you must “Train Like You Fight” if you expect to prevail against your attacker in the face of danger and be able to fight like you have trained. This requires realistic combative training. TRS Direct provides some of the world’s best fighting training.

When the shit hits the fan your mind will automatically fall back to your training, which should be based on what you will encounter in the real world. All of the fight scenarios where you’ve imagined how you’d deal with a given situation, will remain just that – imaginary.

When tested under pressure, your mind and body will always return to what it knows the best. This simple fact means that if you end up in a violent confrontation or even a fight in a tournament, you will react exactly as you have trained. I guarantee it!  

I have seen it too many times as a special agent and military veteran. When attacked your mind goes into tunnel vision and cuts out all the things you don’t need. So when this happens you are not going to remember those 600 martial art techniques you learned. Instead it will automatically go to those few techniques you use the most.  

This can be good or bad depending on how you trained. Meaning if you have been practicing bad/useless techniques or reinforcing bad habits, then you will use these bad techniques during a fight. However, the same applies to those “good” techniques you have learned and practiced.

Train Like You Fight:

Now that I have established that you will react how you have trained, you need to ensure that the reaction that occurs in the real world is the one that you want to occur.

In the realm of combat there are some very specific examples of “training like you fight”. When practicing punching, you do not want to enforce the habit of leaving your punch out too long so your practice partner can perform a bunch of techniques. The result will be your leaving the punch out in a real attack. That is what your body is trained to do.

Another example is practicing defense against knife attacks by having your practice partner use unrealistic stabbing strikes that allow for you to easily defend against them in class but are in no way like the attacks you are likely to see in the streets.  

Strive to do everything in practice the way you would in a fight, every time.  In a fight, when you become fatigued, (which may happen quicker than you think due to your adrenaline flowing and then ebbing) you will often revert to your bad habits because it is simply easier to do for most people. So incorrect training repetitions will ultimately make your non-fatigued response the same.

When I was a law enforcement defensive tactics trainer one way we taught and verified that agents were not building bad habits was to pressure test their training, find their weaknesses, and correct them. We would fatigue them with calisthenics and then have them fight multiple opponents first one on one and then at the same time.

With shooting training, we would use simunitions, which are wax bullets used in a primed cartridge case, with no gunpowder. The primer provides all the necessary power to propel the wax bullet at low velocities. They won’t kill you, but they hit you with enough force to make you think about what you’re doing enough to take the training seriously and raise the pucker factor.

So as a guy who has “been there and done that”, I highly recommend that you stop listening to those guys in your martial arts class who have never been in a real situation.  And “Train like you fight”, as you will in the real world, otherwise those bad habits you perfect will show up when you least want them. What bad habits have you ingrained in training, and how will they cost you? Make sure your training is reflected in your fighting, and your fighting is reflected in your training.

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6 thoughts on “Realistic Training Equates to Realistic Fighting”

  1. Very realistic training parameters . I was a tanker in the mid ’70s and a combat support MP through Desert Storm . All concurrent. If you don’t train like you fight you will not have a chance of winning , unless you think lighting candles will improve your odds .

  2. My problem is that I have to be very careful about what classes that I go, which instructors I train under and who I train with as I can’t afford to be made to practice what I believe to be poor form.

  3. I strongly agree! Make sure your training is, reflected in your fighting, and your fighting is, reflected in your training to compete to win. “Train like you fight to win your life”, as you will in the real world, otherwise those bad habits you perfect will show up when you least want them. Fair and generous behavior or treatment of others, especially in a sports contest are bad habits you perfect will show up when you least want them and will they cost you. Train as you fight to win your life is not like a sport, even if can be a job or sport. Willpower- exercising imposing your control of your impulses and actions with decisive fighting discipline and self-control of the fight wins your life. Decisive discipline is Self-Control or restraint of oneself or one’s actions, to not feel when imposing your control of your impulses and actions; you fight to win your life must be train and practice. Physically oppose vigorously, as in a battlefield, combat is, not possible in typical martial arts class by “professionals” who have never faced a real life, decisive combat situation.