Having been exposed to some of the most elite level training the world has to offer, I can tell you I learned a lot. One thing I learned was pain provided an excellent opportunity to learn.
The first time you take a punch when you know it is coming there is a sense of dread associated. Will it hurt, how much will it hurt, can I fight on or will I back down. Being put in these training situations provided me with amazing insight. It showed me there was a threshold I could operate within when things were bad and still accomplish my mission. I could take several hits, yet still remain combat effective. It greatly improved my confidence, but it also opened up my throttle. I wouldn’t say I was reckless, I would say I was calculated.
It is difficult to share this type of experience in the private sector. While I believe it is essential to anyone with self defense goals, it is not easy to put yourself in these types of situations. Reality based training is a great vehicle to simulate the type of stress you might experience. Where I find value is in providing an opportunity for the student to work through some of their own demons. To help become more familiar with violence and what it means to use calculated violence. The challenge is doing so without closing them off, without shutting down their motivation to challenge themselves. If done inappropriately it can lead to avoidance or dismissal.
Follow The Yellow Brick Road
There is a method to the madness. It does not begin by throwing students into shark infested waters wearing a meat suit. The exposure to the stimuli must be gradual and controlled. The instructor’s intention is to provide the student the opportunity to succeed through guided encounters. Each scenario should have a simple goal in mind. For instance, the difficulty of not drawing your firearm. To skirt the edges of deadly force justification requiring the student to employ other tools. Tools such as de-escalation, disengagement and escape. When all roads lead to deadly force you promote poor decision making. You promote deadly force as the only option in the student’s eyes.
Time to Press On
The challenge is in expanding the student’s comfort zone by placing them in uncomfortable situations. It is not easy. You have to start with the little things. In our Force On Force class we start with an exposure to pain. Many times students have no idea what a marking cartridge feels like so they get purposefully shot for the experience in a safe and controlled environment. Then we work at exposing them to a chain of events they can control with good decision making. Should they make the wrong decision they learn through pain the outcome is negative. One way to simulate this encounter is by restricting the number of rounds in the student’s firearm. With this low round count they now must consider if they fail pain is a result.
The hardest scenarios are usually the ones requiring the most thought. Getting the student to think their way through the problems is the best outcome for everyone.