Training Tips for Law Enforcement & Military

One teaching strategy that I use in every use of force class is to remind my students (usually every 5 mins) to not resist their training partner 100% when they are trying to learn a combative technique.

The reason is simple …

If we were working on say choke defense and I were to apply the choke to you with 100% force each time, you would be knocked out in under 3 seconds.

What does the student who is learning the “defense from a choke” get out of this? Nothing…

Actually he does get something, but it’s very bad and extremely hard to re-program once it is in place and that is, he will now flinch each time the technique is practiced.

This is not the “autonomic” startled flinch but a preconditioned physical /anticipated response to the pain that he knows is about to happen. This is not only counterproductive to training but you now have a student who is not learning anything or paying attention but focusing on the pain he receives from his training partner. I see this happen at the majority of classes where I am an observer and not the Instructor.

Some Defensive Tactics Instructors believe that by punching the student in the face it will toughen them up to the reality of the street. I have never subscribed to this, and at 46 I have trained a great deal of Police and Military professionals. There have also been recent deaths where students didn’t respond well to this “toughen up” approach and never made it through training.

As Instructors, our goal is to ensure that the techniques being learned are being absorbed by our Officers so that they become an automatic unconscious response which requires little cognitive thought to perform in a critical incident (gross motor-skill vs. complex). Before you get the wrong idea about my own training, the students in my classes work hard, for a min of 4 hours with only water and bathroom breaks. There is a difference between conditioning your students to ensure an offensive mindset instead of brutalizing them. One will produce a Warrior while the later leaves mental self doubt to react appropriately when their life or their partners is on the line.

Ensure ground rules for your students because you are there to set the tone of the class. Abraham Maslow “needs hierarchy” states that the student or learner needs to feel physically safe in their class environment. Before you dismiss this with a laugh, realize that Maslow is regarded as somewhat of a legendary figure in the study of how our brains process the learning cycle.

Legendary Special Forces Operator “Paul Howe” author of “Leadership and training for the fight” talks about his experience of seeing grossly overweight Instructors screaming at young fit recruits to do things which they themselves were physically incapable of…

This inevitable is up to you as the Instructor to decide which direction that you want to pursue. Am I against hard physical contact? No. Provided it is done with an end result or a specific goal in mind, and all the safety precautions are in place to minimize the chance of injuries to your students.

Train the Sheepdogs to fight the Wolves and protect the flock. Ultimately, that is our role as a good Instructor. We need to spend more time in this day and age of budget cuts and limited training time, to maximize the learning potential of our students so that they are prepared to “fight the good fight.”

Written by Odhinn Kohout

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