Sunday, February 26, 2012

What a Scene

Scenario Training is to Reality Based and Behavioral Self Protection what Sparring is to Combat Sports and Mixed Martial Arts. For both camps of study it is the closest we can get to the actual event we are training for while minimizing risk yet still making it a valid training experience. The word scenario comes from the Greek for stage. The place where actors play out an imaginary situation.
But is it the most important aspect of training? Lets look at another activity and see where that leads.

What Can You Accomplish With 11 Minutes?

Jerry Rice won three Super Bowl Rings and an AFC Championship. He is the all time NFL Touchdown leader with 208. He holds the most records for his position, wide receiver; and most of them by an astonishingly wide margin to the second place holder. Here is a brief look at them:

"His 1,549 career receptions are 445 receptions ahead of the second place record held by Tony Gonzalez. His 22,895 career receiving yards are 6,961 yards ahead of the second place spot held by his former 49ers teammate Terrell Owens. His 197 career touchdown receptions are 44 scores more than the 153 touchdown receptions by both Randy Moss and his former 49ers teammate, Terrell Owens, and his 208 total touchdowns (197-p, 10-r, 1-ret) are 33 scores ahead of Emmitt Smith's second place total of 175. Furthermore, his 1,256 career points scored make him the highest-scoring non-kicker in NFL history"

What makes all of this more incredible is that he achieved all this playing an average of 11 minutes of actual football per game.That is to say that on any given Sunday not counting time outs, huddles and other delays, but from hike to whistle Jerry Rice played 11 minutes a week.

For Jerry Rice the game was the "event". The closest thing a football team does to playing the game is scrimmaging. It is in essence "Reality Based Scenario Training" for football; but even  professional teams don't scrimmage at every practice. The majority of the time is used in conditioning, skill development, learning and running plays over and over, and work on the fundamental skills. You see, what made Jerry Rice so exceptional at playing football was not the time he spent playing football but all the repetition and countless hours spent practicing skills necessary for the game or event.

Skill practice can be divided into conditioning and drilling. Conditioning is anything that improves attributes like strength, speed, power, explosiveness or endurance. Drilling improves timing, accuracy, efficiency, and effectiveness under pressure. Conditioning is mostly a solo effort  while drilling requires an opposition (Team or Training Partner). There are some drills that have a conditioning effect but they are drills nonetheless they develop skill necessary to thrive under opposition.

For our purposes we will focus on drilling. How to drill something in order to develop skill I believe is a hugely important part when it comes to preparing folks to protect themselves. In the Functional Edge System the drilling has a slightly higher priority than the scenario training. 


Yes I said it. Now some colleagues in  the reality self defense community may disagree but allow me to make my point. I do believe that scenario training is essential however it is not THE most important part of preparation as clearly demonstrated by Jerry Rice's example.

I believe that trainees first must be taught the tactics (defined as efficient use of movement) that we wish to transmit under no resistance whatsoever until the fundamental movement is performed at an acceptable level.

 Gracie Jiu Jitsu black belt instructor Alan Baker has an excellent way of illustrating this. Imagine for a moment you had no idea of how to write in print style the letter "A". I then grabbed a marker and showed you on a whiteboard how to draw those simple three lines. After showing you I hand you the marker and ask you to do the same. As your hand moves to the board to start writing I swat at your hand or grab it, roughly pulling it away before it touches the board. How good of a letter "A" would you be able to write. That is what training with resistance BEFORE developing adequate tactics is like. Training like this only achieves two things, it shows that I, the instructor, know how to write the letter "A" and that I am really good at stopping YOU from doing it. If we apply the above metaphor model to teaching Self Protection Skill  we see the student learns nothing, becomes frustrated and we may even increase their level of fear and stress in a real situation.

I like to ask instructors this question, Is this the way you would want another instructor to prepare your Daughter, Mother, Wife, Sister, or Girlfriend for an assault? If the answer is no, then why are you training or teaching someone's mom, wife, etc. like this??

If my daughter said to me that she joined a kick boxing class and on her first day the instructor "made the senior students glove up and then they all sparred me because that's the scenario I'm preparing for, so know I have a black eye and bruises on my ribs..." I would be paying that instructor a swift visit and not in the kindest way. 

The point is that entering a self defense training scenario without an adequate skill set may do more harm than good. If I had a 1 hour class plan that included drilling and scenario training and suddenly someone came in and said I must cut out 15 minutes, 12 of those minutes would be cut from scenario training.

I believe Abraham Lincoln said "Give me six hours to chop down a tree [the scenario] and ill spend the first four sharpening the axe [drilling and conditioning]" That's just to chop down a tree, if you want to chop down records, and develop great realistic skill, you spend thousands of hours drilling and conditioning and just 11 minutes playing football like Jerry Rice!

1 comment:

  1. Well said. As an individual that has been trained by a variety of instructors. I have found that the method that you speak of has improved my skills by leaps and bounds.