**This is a guest post by Matthew Apsokardu. A student of Okinawa kenpo Karate and Kobudo for over 13 years, Matthew has become best well known for his writings at Ikigai | Blogging the Martial Way**
The dojo is a wonderful place isn’t it? Bright lights, open space, flat floors…nice and predictable. In fact, it serves as a perfect petri dish for learning techniques. Unfortunately we aren’t always so lucky to find ourselves in such ideal circumstances.
Terrain and environment is a big issue that sometimes gets overlooked during martial arts training. Although it might not seem like a big deal at first (a good technique is a good technique, right?) different environments can change up a successful self defense game in an instant.
Is it wise to go to the ground if there is broken glass there? Is it wise to grapple if someone has a knife? Would you want to punch someone in the chest if they are wearing a thick winter coat?
These kinds of contingencies can never be predicted, but practitioners of the arts can create a mindfulness of there existence.
Making the Mental Adjustment
The first key to planning for environment is to make the mental leap that the unknown exists. No matter how good your technique, when faced with a self defense problem, it is unlikely things will work out as cleanly as you want them to.
Accept that it won’t be pretty. Understand that getting out alive and hopefully less worse for the wear is the ultimate goal, even if things didn’t go smoothly.
Training Tips for Training
First, step out literally. Make the effort to train outside your dojo, whether it’s at home, in a parking lot, or in the backyard. Wear street clothes that you normally wear on a day to day basis.
By doing this, you’ll be able to get a feel for how your non-gi clothing reacts. Furthermore, you’ll be able to identify bad habits you may have in shoe, clothing, and accessory choice.
Second, step outside the box conceptually. Turn the lights out in the dojo and train in the dark (unless it gets pitch black, then use a little bit of light). Use multiple opponents, sometimes with weapons, sometimes without.
Most of all, put yourself into situations where you think ‘ohh crap!’, and feel very uncertain. This is important because you can confront those feelings of uncertainty in the safety of the dojo environment. If you wait to feel panic and stress until an actual confrontation, you can’t be sure if you’ll know how to manage it.
**A personal thanks from me to Matt for writing my first-ever guest post! …It’s quite exciting really :-) It’s a great post with an important message – a link to Matt’s site, Ikigai | Blogging the Martial Way, is also available in my Links column on the right. Please feel free to comment with ideas and anecdotes from your own experience in training to plan for various environments.**