April 29, 2014 at 10:42 am #11633
I wrote this article for a different group that I am part of. Thought I’d share it here as well
Train Hard, Fight Easy
The maxim of many an Army and a familiar phrase to most. I want to explore this concept a little though, as I look and see so often now vary varying viewpoints in what ‘Training Hard’ constitutes, and also the fact this is becoming one of the ‘throwaway’ phrase that many like to use, but few actually understand and apply (Same as, “It is better to be judged by twelve, than carried by six”)
From my perspective a lot of the modern Martial Arts/Self Defense and even Survival (Think ‘Boot camp’) training focus is purely on the physical. Now it can be said that arduous physical training has a psychological side to it, but you tend to find once the initial ‘psychological barriers’ have been conquered repeating set physical sequences either requires the same (mental) effort or becomes easier over time as habitulisation and familiarity set in. In fact with a good training regime, ‘hard’ workouts become something you look forward to as opposed to feel any trepidation about. Now while I am a big believer in maintaining a high standard of physical fitness, I do think ‘Training hard’ must go beyond this and incorporate far more of the mental and emotional aspects for us to truly be prepared for ‘Fighting Easy’ (This is why we are training is it not?)
One of the huge advantages of delivering survival training, is we are working far more in terms of training for hours and days, instead of the more fitness and defensive orientated training that tends to work in seconds/minutes and hours. With this expanded timeline we can get far more into the deeper training cycles that really start to push mentally and emotionally than just physically.
Caveat – Please note, I am not saying it is not possible to stress someone in short term training, just that it is far less likely to be done and to a lesser overall effect than being exposed to extreme stimuli for a longer time.
It is my plan to delve into this subject in far more depth over a series of articles, but here I will do some brief conceptual introductions and provide some examples so you can look to incorporate some of these aspects into your training straight away. Before I do so, I would highlight this type of training is aimed more at people that have a SOLID grasp of foundations, an understanding of their own bodies and are prepared and willing to push themselves further and accept the residual risks in doing so.
On the psychological side of things we need to introduce discomfort and/or increased physical duress, on the emotional side exposure to situations we find intimidating, unpleasant or traumatic. I would highlight, I personally am firmly subscribed to this type of training and will give a brief summary of some of my training goals at the end of this article.
In my progressive model of Survival training, some of the earlier stressors I introduce to students are; sleep disruption/deprivation, denial of food and rationing of water (Not necessarily all at the same time!) To be able to function, think and act clearly, when tired, hungry and dehydrated is ESSENTIAL in a wilderness scenario, but being clear headed when physically compromised also carries over exceptionally well to ‘defensive’ type training as well.
Introducing this training aspect outside of attending courses is very simple (but that does not mean it’s easy) Try setting a repeat alarm for a random time one night every week or so (wake up every 87mins and do 5mins of exercise, then go back to sleep)
Fast one day a week. Yes, don’t eat for a 24hr period, if that is too hard, start with 12hrs and buildup 2 hours extra every week. Within 6 weeks you’ll be at 24hrs. In the beginning go easy, but eventually you want to be able to complete at least your regular daily work load while fasting.
Every couple of weeks limit your fluid intake for a day. Start by only drinking water, remove all of your regular coffee/tea, sodas etc. for one day (You will be amazed at what this will do to some people!) Once you’ve accomplished this successfully a few times in a row then start to limit your water intake. See and feel how distracting and degrading dehydration can be, then appreciate there are many scenarios where this could be the ‘normal’.
These are just some brief examples to get you off to an ‘easy start’ once these are mastered then you can look at some of the deeper techniques in subsequent articles.
What about the emotional side of things?
This obviously is very subjective to the individual, and everyone’s definition of things they find “intimidating, unpleasant or traumatic” is different, so start by listing those. Sit down for 10minutes with a pen and paper and write. I would actually separate these into 3 distinct columns:
Intimidating Unpleasant Traumatic
And write lists in each. For instance you may find ‘Public Speaking’ intimidating. Watching a video of an animal being beaten unpleasant, and confronting a family member about their manner of talking to you as traumatic
It could be more developed for some. In which case, visiting a known problem area could be intimidating, talking to a victim of significant physical violence could be unpleasant and butchering an animal (especially a pet type) could be traumatic.
I should highlight here, you and you alone are responsible for your own safety and only you can decide how far you will push yourself in training (and what training courses you will attend) But starting with your list will highlight emotive areas that have the potential to be worked on.
Now I would highlight, DON’T cheat yourself here. Be brutally honest on the things that bother you. I had student once that clearly and confidently told me that ‘If the time ever came’ she would have ‘no hesitation to kill someone’. Later that day I invited her to kill and butcher a rabbit. She refused. I did it and she was reduced to tears for an extended period for watching the sequence. She refused to eat that evening and went into quite the diatribe about how cruel and horrible a person I was for killing the animal (While the butchery was a planned part of the course it nicely coincided with the lesson for her) I highlighted if this is how she felt about a rabbit, having just SEEN it killed, how confident was she now she could end another human’s life…? It was quite the change in perspective for her.
Caveat – I take no pleasure in killing animals on courses, but do feel it is such a valuable lesson it is one that must be incorporated, but is always done in a respectful and swift a manner as possible.
Back to the list. Once you have written your list, you can decide what stimuli you can expose yourself to, to try and surmount the concern or ‘harden’ or inoculate yourself to it. Repeated exposure to events, assists in conditioning to not be as stressed by them. Again, I highlight, you and you alone are responsible for the consequences of this, I am merely highlighting in this article what constitutes a LARGE training gap for many people. Start with these basics, then further examples and practices to follow.
I mentioned earlier I would share some of my personal training goals, so here are a few I am working on:
I am a firm believer you can never have too much first aid/medic type training. However training is no substitute for practice. To gain the most experience but also to push the psychological and emotional boundaries I plan to do one or two weeks’ worth of volunteer ambulance work in S.Africa in inner city areas. Here they have exceptional numbers of patients, massively limited equipment and resources, and being in a different culture and climate it will give me significant physical duress as well, so this is a very well rounded exercise/experience.
I will focus on sparring with bigger, heavier, more experienced partners. Going into training where you know you can’t ‘win’ and that hurts more than normal will be interesting.
Some of my regular scheduled harder work (e.g. moving, splitting, piling wood for my stove) will be done on my ‘fasting days’. This is physical hard and with significant residual risk as you are working for prolonged periods with axes etc.
I have many more plans in mind, but will share those another day. What about you? How do you ‘Train hard? Share your thoughts and experiences…April 29, 2014 at 10:56 am #11638
“On the psychological side of things we need to introduce discomfort and/or increased physical duress, on the emotional side exposure to situations we find intimidating, unpleasant or traumatic.”
This training is all rolled into one big adventure called getting old and raising kids. Fits the bill perfectly.April 29, 2014 at 1:00 pm #11656
Absolutely agree with you Toby. Push your limits, if you can take the hard way do it, whenever you have choices and it means you expose yourself to calculated risks.
I enjoy solo hiking for this reason. A one day hike suddenly turns into a two day hike because you can’t shelter where you planned to shelter. You have to be aware to not get lost or backtrack if you do. You are alone and dont see people for several days. You have nobody to complain to, no help, you have just yourself, skills and gear to make things work. (I do take an emergency beacon for emergencies with me though)
A lot of people dont take this sort of training very serious but putting yourself in uncomfortable situations is exactly what makes you more resilient and in this case it does not matter what it is and does not even have to be outdoor.
Funny that you mention the hospital part. I have the same planned in a hospital that takes care of refugees nearby.
Alea iacta est ("The die has been cast")April 29, 2014 at 8:21 pm #11748
Thanks Jay. Yes, any kind of exposure and experience in the medical field in invaluable indeed! These teams in S.A are dealing with some pretty interesting and challenging stuff it would seem, I imagine the situation in Thailand is not dissimilar!April 29, 2014 at 10:14 pm #11767
Good article Toby. Being prepared and having knowledge to do things, like shooting, hunting, making fire etc. under the let s say normal condition is completely different then doing all that under the huge stress.
In almost all my articles I am trying to make that point. Of course it is impossible to train in real condition, but it is possible to bring that condition to the point as real as it can be.
For example you can read on lot of sites calculations how much time man can live without water, for example seven days.
Think about situation when you are forced to shoot- fight every day, go out for scavenging, walk 8 miles every day while having bad case of diarrhea. So do you think that you could do all that for seven days without water?
I do not think so, real life SHTF is hard living.
Emotional stress (and you are gonna be under a lot emotional stress) will impact you on many ways, your usual performances may go very low because that. How you gonna cope with fear, or anger.
How you gonna react and judge dangerous situations when you lost member of your family?
As I said, you can not train some things, you can only imagine it.
But as mentioned in article, volunteering in hospital in some poor countries (for example) can clear you some things, you can hear screams, you can see fear, feel desperation, smell blood. It is real, not movie.
It can clear some things for you.May 2, 2014 at 9:08 am #12110
Very good article, you touch a lot of important points.
The only sparring that counts is against stronger, more experienced opponents. If you are attacked your opponent will be stronger due to his build, surprise or drugs. We have an exercise in self defense, one person stands eyes closed surrounded by other persons walking around. One of the walkers attacks, hit with a gloved fist, kick, push, stab with a knife. As soon as the person in the middle feels contact (s)he can open her/his eyes and react according to the situation.
I trained when being ill (<span class=”hps”>diarrhea)</span> or being very tired. When having <span class=”hps”>diarrhea</span> my body adjusted and kept everything in, the sparring went fine though afterwards I could have slept instantly. I notice when training when very tired I am slower and make more mistakes. But a predator will usually attach you when you are weak or ill so they have less risk.
I use my self defense training only as technical training. I train strength (bodyweight) and cardio at home. In the pauses of my strength training I practice shooting with an airsoft pistol.
I work 12 hour shifts, day, night, week, weekend. After some 12 hour nightshifts I had to stay awake due to emergencies or social obligations. I can, but I won’t be able to do hard work. If I get home after a nightshift I sleep for 5 hours, wake up and work out. It sounds hard but it is all in the mind, the first 10 minutes are rough, than the body adjusts. Having a kid also helps being tired a lot…
I have been dehydrated once due to illness. It was impossible to think or act. I’ll try not to drink water for 24 hours, I think it will be hell.
About killing animals. I raise chickens, hens for eggs, cocks for meat. I don’t like killing the birds, it’s like it takes away a bit of humanity. But I enjoy being able to eat my own poultry and feed my family. The two balance each other out.May 7, 2014 at 11:53 pm #12800
Is not a word in english. It’s oriented.May 8, 2014 at 3:46 am #12852
Toby C, excellent post.May 8, 2014 at 4:02 am #12867
Good post. It reminded me of how many mistakes people make when tired. Especially me.May 8, 2014 at 9:07 am #12891
I hate to say this but survival sometimes pushes you beyond what do you have in your pack that can keep you going 3+ day no sleep while doing excessive hard physically demanding things? Caffeine only so good sugar ok but where do you go when you have to go beyond?
In past they used drugs to keep troops going, this is not a good thing but may make difference when you absolutely must or die. you may want to look into ways to extend your capabilities should the need arise. It creates problems in other areas when solving the sleep issue and creates a debt that must be repaid but sometimes no choice.
rowan with the chickens hypnotize them first easy on them and you to kill themMay 8, 2014 at 9:10 am #12894
Thanks Jay. Yes, any kind of exposure and experience in the medical field in invaluable indeed! These teams in S.A are dealing with some pretty interesting and challenging stuff it would seem, I imagine the situation in Thailand is not dissimilar!
Probably less shooting victims
Alea iacta est ("The die has been cast")May 10, 2014 at 10:07 am #13184
This is a solid concept.
Whenever I’m doing yardwork (and sometimes workouts) I wear about 15kg of weights to stress my body a bit more and to get used to more physically demanding tasks..
6 hours of moderate work (making me sweat like a pig but not become breathless) saw me 3kg down on me normal weight after I had fully rehydrated.May 12, 2014 at 6:10 pm #13516
Great article Toby! Read it two times. A lot of great information.March 3, 2015 at 11:59 pm #37902
‘Hard’ Training, Russian firearms drills….March 4, 2015 at 12:16 am #37903
Thanks for posting Toby. I have no doubt the training produces good results for the survivors.
In the first drill one shot goes high that could have penetrated if it was off to the right as well. On the second drill the shooter accidently discharged the gun pointed down in between his legs. He was just lucky he didn’t kneecap himself. In the same drill his muzzle control isn’t that good. All the drills are highly dangerous. I hope no one tries these at home!
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