My site is all about sharing the things that I am learning and feel are important to our karate training. I just read of book called “On Killing” written by Lieutenant Grossman that fits the bill.
Lieutenant Grossman’s landmark book goes into detail about the discovery in World War II that military personnel were resistance to shooting and killing the enemy and how that military resolved the issue in subsequent wars through training.
In his book, he explains how 99% humans have a genetic predisposition against killing. In fact, the military determined that most personnel were just posturing and firing above the enemy and a large portion of soldiers busied themselves with non-firing activities like fetching supplies. Also, the military discovered that only 1% of military personnel were able to easily kill the target. These soldiers were having a good ol’ time engaging and killing the enemy. They found that this 1% was basically psychopaths.
In the book, Grossman goes into detail about how military trains the average person to overcome this resistance to kill and the cost to the individual, i.e. post traumatic stress.
The military discovered that they could train soldiers to overcome this resistance to kill by recreating more realistic training scenarios that closely representing a real combat situation. These scenarios gave the soldiers the same stress and adrenaline rush that they’d experience on the battle field and required them to perform under pressure. For example, the bull’s-eye targets were replaced by human shaped targets. They started to use human shaped dummies and running real life combat scenarios.
Importance for or martial arts training
Let’s go into importance of this for our karate training.
First, most self defense situations involve dominant posturing. I just recently had a situation at my karate school where somebody came into the dojo and they challenged me to a fight to test their skills. In most of these situations, it is very easy to de-escalate using confident postures, assertive communication, and empathy for the other person. In this situation, I was able to very easy to control the situation and de-escalated it. This person just got fired from a job and headed to our dojo thinking that he’d try to release some negative energy.
This brings us to an important point…
In most self defense situations, you’re trying to determine whether this person is the 1% of psychopaths where the verbal de-escalation strategies will not work.
The second important point that I derived from this book is the importance of realism in our training. For example, if I’m teaching somebody how to use and an eye poke as a form of self defense. Most people have an inherent resistance to using and eye poke into self defense situation. If you’re cringe thinking about using an eye poke, that’s a total normal response. Look at the good news, you’re not a psychopath. At my FAST Defense seminars, I’ve even had participants say that they could not perform and eye poke in even in a life or death situation.
What does this mean?
Well, if you’re telling people to use an eye poke for self defense but not training the technique in a realistic way necessary for the participant to overcome their natural resistance to use it in real situation, you are doing a huge disservice to the student.
In a Lieutenant Grossman’s book, On Killing, he talks about this exact situation of the eye poke. He recommends practicing on a real person by replicating the action of the eye poke. To make it more realistic, the attacker should even screaming in pain and if possible, the attacker should hold something that over their eyes that the defender can poke it into that has the same consistency of an eye.
I bet after reading this description you’re wincing at the thought of it. That’s OK, because you’re not a psychopath. See the extent required for you to pull this off in a real situation. You can start slowly by replicating the motion, followed by a gradual increase in the level of realism.
In our FAST defense training, we provide the necessary level of realism required for a real self-defense situation. For example, you will learn how to de-escalate the verbal assault which will end 99% of the situations, because only the 1% of the population is our psychopaths able to take it to the next level. The realistic training will leave you pumped up and empowered as you safely build up to the higher level of intensity.
Here’s a question for all the Martial Artist out there…
How do you make your training as realistic as possible?
If you’re interested in learning more about this topic and find it extremely interesting, I suggest getting a copy of Lieutenant Grossman’s book On Killing.