Stress Training

I always stress (no pun intended) that we must have stress in our training. People often ask me, "But how will I be able to respond in a real life situation, how can I develop the ability to respond under stress?"

The answer is we must introduce stress into our training, we must try to simulate a real attack; only thus can the mind develop the ability to cope in a real life situation. Sadly, most martial arts schools totally ignore this aspect of training, thus depriving their students of the ability to defend themselves (outside the dojo).

David Dumolo, IKI instructor New Zealand, clearly understands this point. Please read his words on this very important topic. He is speaking from real life experience with violence. A wise man learns from the experience of others.

Take it away David.

"I always try to introduce stress into training. This can require some discernment on my part as an instructor in understanding my student’s strengths and weaknesses and stretching them in a way that will challenge them but not leave them disheartened or injured. Being a military system, aggression training where attackers converge attacking from different directions in unpredictable cycles introduces stress, challenges endurance and removes the clinical approach to self-defense training.

I always encourage aggressive lingo (within reason) and pushing and shoving. The ability to cope with stress and aggression is a skill that is not intrinsic and is something that needs to be developed. I remember as a rookie doorman I would find myself stressed and shook up at first after dealing with violence but after a few incidents I became impartial to the antagonisms going on around me and simply go stuck in doing whatever I had to do to resolve the trouble.

I and my peers would often discuss the night’s violence in an aloof and matter of fact way of a job that needed to be done and nothing more. That’s when I began to realize that I had developed skills and experience as a doorman. I was able to rationalize and assert situations that in the past would have had me sick with anxiety and worry. I became able to make instant judgments just by observing someone’s gait and posture; I was able to read into the psychology and dynamics of conflict.

In training somebody how to defend themselves by teaching a defense I lay out the foundations. The technique needs to be tested over and over again in a setting reminiscent to the street. This means your training buddy is not your friend but is a vicious thug who wants to harm you and your loved ones. When you get stressed, tired, hurt that is when you reach a point where you want to throw in the towel and capitulate. By introducing stress into Krav Maga training that point of capitulation gets pushed further and further to build up the Israeli combat psyche.

In Krav Maga attitude is everything. Sometimes my students would say “Oh no, I messed up”. I always say, it does not matter, continue with the defense. The worst thing you can do is do nothing when attacked. People who only punch and kick the air in training without pressure testing their skills in realistic practice develop skills which are about as useful as a dance routine in a real self defense situation. My aim is not only to arm my students with the techniques, but also with the correct attitude, knowledge and experience to apply the techniques learned.

Nowadays Karate studios are commonplace in practically every township. Many of them award belts simply by learning a pattern of movements and maybe doing a couple of minutes of light contact sparring. One can probably achieve black belt in 3 years or less just by memorizing and demonstrating a set of movements. There is a theology which says that our time on earth is supposed to trial and forge us into people worthy of citizenship of the kingdom of heaven. In parallel to this, my approach says that it’s the stress, the sweat, the blood, overcoming your own fears and limitations which make you a worthy Krav Maga practitioner. "