The phrase 'Reality Based Self Defence' is much used and abused within the martial arts industry. In this the first of a series of articles on how to use Reality Based training we look at its history and uses, some of which may come as a surprise...
I first got involved with Reality Based Self Defence around 2004. It was a great ‘new’ training concept popularised by individuals like Jim Wagner, Tony Blauer, Bill Kipp and Peyton Quinn.
Despite claims to the contrary, Reality Based self defence training is nothing new. Occasionally you will see claims on the net with various people claiming to have founded the movement. No one in living memory started Reality Based Training it has a documented history tracking back over 2000 years. We can find evidence of it going back to Krav Maga training in the IDF from 1948 onwards, before that, in military training in the 2nd world war, there is documentation prior to that in the Elizabethan era with sword fighting and quarterstaff training, prior to that the medieval knights. And prior to that Roman and Spartan armies are documented as using Reality Based type scenario training.
The earliest documentation I am aware of goes back to Titus Flavius Joesphus commenting on the Roman army training at some point between AD 37 and AD 100, around 2000 years ago. They used ‘scenario training’ and mock battles with wooden training swords. By all accounts these were still savage affairs with serious injury and realistic risk. Flavius writes about the training of the Roman Legions stating that,
"Their drills are bloodless battles, and their battles bloody drills."
What Flavius was getting at, was that even 2000 years ago the premise of Reality Based Training was well known and well used. Training was about replicating the scenario – the battle in their case. The Romans sought to make their training as close to reality as possible without maiming and killing their soldiers. Doing so made them more likely to win and more likely to survive on the battlefield.
With this in mind, the true value of Reality Based Self Defence training emerges. Reality based training is not a fad or a marketing aid, it’s a functional training method that enables increased performance in similar circumstances to those trained.
A good Reality Based Training approach increases the likelihood of survival, decreases the likelihood of freezing and increases the ability to perform and respond in the real event. Because of this, Reality Based methods like Krav Maga attempt to replicate real scenarios as closely as possible. The more realistic and stressful the better. The closer the scenarios mirror real events, the more real world performance improves and the more stress inoculation is achieved for the participant – if done properly.
If done poorly, Reality Based Self Defence training is likely develop inappropriate even dangerous responces to conflict, increase the chances of flinching and freezing, and dramatically increase chances of injury in training. Students can become overconfident, over aggressive or on the other extreme, become highly sensitised to conflict and are more likely to be overwhelmed by stress if assaulted.
Over the next few weeks, we will cover Reality Based training, how to do it correctly, and what to expect if you are using it. Book mark us for the next article, Reality Based Training principles.