Understanding the psychological aspect of street fight training, developing lasting confidence.

We all love to train. Right? If we are into “self protection” “self defense” “martial arts” or “reality based self defense” then we are going to love to train. Surely.

Well no, not quite. Actually you can have a purely “academic” interest in the subject. Some people like to collect stamps, some people build model airplanes, some collect old books and some collect street combatives videos. They watch but they do not DO. They think about the subject but they are not TRAINING it.

There is nothing wrong with this in and of itself. An interest, a hobby is wholly innocuous in and of itself.

The problem comes in two forms:
1. The hobbyist who thinks he is and talks as though and ADVISES others as though he is a “practitioner”. Usually found dwelling for excessively long periods of time on internet forums pontificating and opining when he should be in the gym training those HIIT, powerlifting and crossfit routines he is advising others to do himself. This is the guy who will tell you “yeah I know boxing” or “yeah I know muay thai” because if it comes on TV whilst he is sat on his flaccid ever widening arse that he RECOGNISES the style.

2. The other problem is when we ourselves drift in to hobby land. If you are injured or simply CANNOT train for some real reason (which if you push yourself on the subject you will probably find as I did that beyond injury there is NEVER a reason, a valid excuse to not at least bang out some burpees, go for a jog and do some pushups.). Have you ever found yourself spending more time thinking, analysing and LOOKING for solutions than laying down the foundations for your being skilled right NOW? Which is more useful TODAY looking for the next interesting martial arts move or doing that “boring” run? Which one is actually going to bring you closer to achieving your objectives?

So the clearest way to deal with this effect is to make a clear mental distinction. Becoming more objective and less subjective never hurt anyone. There is a CLEAR dividing line between the “acquisition of techniques” and the “development of skill”.
Put another way: KNOWING WHAT TO DO ISNT GOING TO MEAN ANYTHING IF YOU DONT HAVE THE ABILITY TO DO IT.

And put into an example: the “self protection hobbyist” above who KNOWS a thousand and one techniques against a thousand and one threats but when faced with ANY kind of confrontation (not even physical) freezes with terror and is too fat, unfit and immobile to do anything anyway. All that information will come leaking out of his ears after a gang of skinny teenagers (who have never trained) pack rush him, drag him to the floor and jump on his head.

The psychology of this is fairly straightforward. Allow me to roll out the “two point explanation” format again.

1. Acquiring techniques is comforting and comfortable. Skill acquisition is not. Sitting there watching dvds and reading books you can KID YOURSELF that you can bust out all these moves you are watching as though they were being downloaded into your brain “matrix style”. This is the fat comic book nerds ultimate fantasy! “Dude, I think you will find… I know kung fu.”
I have watched (and am watching) schools and instructors sell their “street self protection” courses based on this ridiculous notion. It would be funny if it wasn’t so outrageous and didn’t feature people being RIPPED OFF whilst taught things that will make them less able to defend themselves:

“Learn how to defend yourself from multiple armed attackers IN A WEEKEND”.

Seriously?
Who would fall for this silly horseshit?
Come on!
Have these instructors ever defended themselves from “multiple armed attackers” successfully?
Cool, show me the multiple scars and the multiple hospital reports. Oh, did they all die without you getting injured at all? Riiiiiiiight….
Unless you are fighting drunk midgets (dwarves? Which is politically correct?) I don’t buy it.
I could take on a gang of drunk midgets I reckon.
If they were armed with naught but soft cushions.

Give Brock Lesnar some pcp and a big metal baseball bat and I think even he would get a few stripes in the back “against multiple armed opponents”.

Look you cant “download” skill and I’m not really sure I could teach anything in a weekend against those kinds of odds. Some smart arse will say “yeah you could… its called running away really fast.”
But actually you COULDNT even learn how to sprint in a weekend! Not from scratch, not to a reasonable standard.
And if you think you are going to stand in the middle of a circle of guys armed with the serious intent to do you harm and a tool for the job and “chop socky” them Bruce Lee style, please wake up and smell the coffee now. It would be better than you eating liquefied food “through the wire” for 3 months.

You CAN “download” the acquisition (recognition) of techniques I suppose, through exposure… but without the ability to perform the techniques WHAT IS THE POINT??? You don’t “learn with the ability to DO” a damn thing by watching the DVD. You have to get with a training partner and DO IT.
Repeatedly. Over time.
This is where “skill acquisition” is the less palatable option for lazier, more feckless folk

It’s hard, its a bit boring, its repetitive and it takes time. BUT the good news is like any training you can LEARN to enjoy the process. Call me weird but I find training that others call “boring” quite “relaxing” – was that a “reframe” there?
If you want to be good enough to fight back when you need to you had better to start teaching yourself to enjoy the training. You can learn to associate pleasure to anything. Getting a good sweat on, giving yourself a good bit of pain (good pain not “injury inducing, one off, kamikaze show boating”) , oxygenating the blood stream, accessing some aggression, burning off some excess adrenaline (and calories) and releasing endorphins gets addictive really quickly. Get addicted.

2. There is a psychological phenomena that I have witnessed across several fields of study that does not have a name yet, that I am aware of. People can become “addicted to the search”. Like some sort of nerdy, perpetually procrastinating investigative journalist.
Ever naïve, ever optimistic, like jack from “jack and the beanstalk” they are out there seeking like crazy for their “magic beans”. They sell themselves on all kinds of ridiculous notions and are addicted to: attending seminars, reading books, buying dvds.
These people are a dodgy instructors wet dream. I’ve seen this in NLP/ personal development, sales and marketing and in strength/fitness training as well as martial arts. They seem to believe if they “just keep looking” they will find some magic solution that will “give them everything they want” easily, quickly and with no sweat. Their houses fill up with unread and unwatched products that have bought in a sweaty, guilty frenzy.
What percentage of people attending NLP or psychology seminars actually go out and USE what they have learnt do you think? Is the body building magazine trade built on people who are training? Or on people who “want to be” training? I actually don’t know for a fact what the answer to that question is, but there are only so many times you can tell someone how to “BUILD MASSIVE BICEPS NOW”, what to eat and how much rest to get between training sessions amongst a hell of a lot of supplement advertising!

DO NOT FALL INTO THESE TRAPS.

Keep a good simple work ethic. Take a down to earth approach to your training. Use your common sense, even if you have little or no experience just be honest with yourself and ask “what can I do today that will help me develop skills and attributes that should I get into trouble will actually make a difference?” If you can’t attend a class, get them old trainers out and go and get some air in your lungs. Do some push ups and bodyweight squats if you cant get to a gym.
Yes, it’s true, you must work on your strength and fitness ALL the time. Tune me out if you don’t like what I’m saying. Go train with the guys selling you the ridiculous notion that strength and fitness are not necessary and size doesn’t matter because their hand to hand skills are so ninja deadly. And then have a good honest look at them, at what they are teaching. Use your own intuition and judgement and ask “has this guy been in a fight? If he was to get in one would any of this stuff hold him in good stead? REALLY?”
You MUST embrace a healthy life style. You MUST becoming what your fat, immobile peers would call a “gym junky” and what I would call a “reasonable amount of training that approximates what the human body was designed to do”. How much? As much as you can. How much is too much? There isn’t a “too much” there is only what you are conditioned for or what you are not conditioned for. At what age must you stop training to remain safe? Never, studies have shown you can keep going until you are dead. So keep going. Until you are dead.
Go on, impress the coroner.

Think of a possible scenario that could unfold in the next few days or one that you have been in before and identify a couple of your weak points and set some objectives today to do something about them. Is it a lack of assertiveness? Lack of fitness? Whatever it is, go and deal with that. Maybe you have never trained and can’t even throw a straight punch. You are at where you are at. It’s fine, but take control and do something about it.

You see I’ve noticed over the years that what people are often really looking for beyond the techniques is CONFIDENCE. I can’t give you that. No instructor can. YOU CAN unlock that confidence in yourself by tackling your own problems head on. Not in an aggressive way, but in a rational, step by step manner that you feel comfortable with. That is at least part of where confidence comes from. Knowing what you are and are not capable of. Knowing that you can deal with problems in your own life in your own way. Knowing yourself.

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