Reality Based Training

During my time in the South African police service I observed that the most common weapon of assault has become the knife. Many law enforcement officers and security personnel often encounter suspects with knives and don’t really know how to deal with it. Many are stabbed or cut as result because of a tug of war to control the blade and not the hand or arm controlling the blade.

Law enforcement officers and security personnel may develop a false sense of security because they carry a side-arm. However, research has shown that a knife attacker can cover 2 or 3 metres before the officer has time to draw his weapon. In testing these scenarios the officer would have been killed. For law enforcement and security officers, learning how to use their side-arm in close range combat is imperative for survival.

The most critical issue to address when teaching anyone (from civilians to law enforcement officers to military personnel) is scenario based instruction – basically trainees must be taught to use their combatives training under some form of reality based stress. Psychological studies on learning have shown that the recall of memories is contextual. Basically, if all your training is in a sanitised and structured enviroment then your chances of remembering your training are smaller than if you had been trained in a realistic scenario.

For defending against a knife attack the trainee needs to be able to either draw his (or her) weapon whilst evading or deflecting the knife attack, or be able to deflect, control and restrain the knife attacker without drawing his/her weapon. The same applies when an officer is being attacked by an unarmed attacker; in close range combat law enforcement and security personnel have themselves been disarmed (this happened to an ADT officer just last week – News).

Reality stress doesn’t just apply to confronting an unarmed or knife attacker, it applies equally to using your firearm under fire. Almost all prior firearm training can be almost worthless unless you are practicing while someone is fighting with or shooting back at you! After learning firearm mechanics and marksmanship skills, all gun training should be conducted under stress with the trainee being the target of incoming “rounds”. I don’t care if it is just a tennis ball machine pumping sporadic balls,  paintball or even a rubber band gun! But something needs to be firing back at you to learn more, realistic gun fighting techniques.

In summary, all training (especially for law enforcement and security officers who are exposed to dangerous situations on a daily basis) must include some reality or scenario based training.

Fight Hard, Fight Smart But Fight Dirty.