Riz's Martial Arts Training

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Planning for Environment

**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

My biggest piece of advice for increasing your awareness is to take the time to step out of the box. Mr Miyagi Got it Right

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.**


Post a Comment 11 comments:

Andy Nagels said...

This is an interesting article. I enjoyed reading it.


June 18, 2009 at 4:44 PM

Riz said...

Hi Andy,

Thanks for your comment. I agree it's a great little article (courtesy of Matt -Ikigai Blogging the Martial Way - Apsokardu lol). Hope you enjoy the rest of the blog!

June 19, 2009 at 2:04 AM

Anonymous said...

Hi, A post well worth all martial artists reading. It is very easy to become accustomed to a certain way of training, fighting etc and it is important that changes occur so as one does not get clamped down on the same movments which may not work in different environments.

Just came across this blog for the first time by the way. Good work here! If you are interested in exchanging links, please feel free do drop me a comment or get back to me through email (which can be found at the footer of my website)

September 30, 2009 at 11:27 AM

Hertao said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

April 1, 2010 at 2:23 PM

Hertao said...

Hey Riz,

Great blog! I thought you and your readers might be interested in my self defense ebook:


I'd be happy to send you a free copy if you'd like to review it. You can find my email address at the above link. Thanks!

April 1, 2010 at 2:26 PM

Tampa Kicks said...

These tips are definitely true! Training environment is important in training and one should make the most of it. Maximize it for sheer martial arts performance. Aside from karate, a good discipline also is Tamap Kickboxing.

June 15, 2010 at 8:39 AM

Lori O'Connell said...

Excellent article! It is absolutely vital to pay attention to your environment when putting self-defense/martial arts skills to use. What is around you can hinder your efforts, but it can also help like through the use of weapons of opportunity. I'm always telling students to be aware of their surroundings at my martial arts school in Vancouver/Richmond BC. Great article, Matt! :)

April 21, 2011 at 11:44 PM

Erica said...

Interesting article. I enjoyed reading it. Great blog!

Mr. Martial Arts

August 28, 2011 at 5:08 PM

Marshall Artest said...

Very good post. I know that we often forget that sparring in the dojo and fighting in the streets are two different things. We never take into account the way our jeans will give when kicking or how different our environment is compared to our school's mats. Always a good idea to practice outside the dojo to learn more about environments and how to use them to your advantage.

January 3, 2012 at 12:33 AM

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