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Confrontational Simulations for Female Self Defense Training

By Phil Messina On the walls of the Modern Warrior Training Facility, there is a quote which reads "Training without stress is merely exercising". Whether or not you agree with this philosophy, it is worthy ...

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By Phil Messina

On the walls of the Modern Warrior Training Facility, there is a quote which reads "Training without stress is merely exercising". Whether or not you agree with this philosophy, it is worthy of consideration when conducting confrontational simulations.

Confrontational Simulations are one of the best methods for introducing stress into the training environment, so that female self defense trainees can leave their training knowing that they can not only perform techniques, but can also adjust their strategies to achieve effective goals while in a high stress environment.

It is initially important that the reader not confuse Confrontational Simulations with Dynamic Simulations.

Confrontational Simulations are largely un-choreographed and much broader in scope, with the trainer evaluating the goal, rather than any particular technique. Dynamic Simulations are choreographed and narrow in scope, with the trainee doing specific, predetermined techniques with power and speed.

One of the primary purposes of Confrontational Simulations is to see if the trainee can adapt to a stressful and unexpected situation without having the luxury of time and a sterile environment in which to remember recently learned techniques.

This is especially important for female self defense students, who have a psychological need to feel they will be able to perform effectively under stress. Over the years, I have heard many female self defense students express their concern that no matter how much training they received, they feared that if they were actually attacked, they would "freeze" and not protect themselves. Realistic confrontational simulation training is a way of alleviating some of those fears.

Although not freely admitted by many female self defense trainers due to litigation concerns, the fear of getting injured is a major factor in creating stress, even in training. Because of this, the trainer must be able to provide a safe environment without completely eliminating the perception of physical danger. This can only be accomplished with the careful selection of proper training equipment and proper supervision by well trained safety monitors. Obviously, injuring your students during training does not provide them with the confidence they need to protect themselves in a real street situation, but minor bumps and bruises as a result of realistic confrontational simulation training can be both productive and actually empowering to the trainee because they discover that they will not quit due to minor discomfort and very likely will not even feel the discomfort until after the fight is over.

Despite the obvious benefits of confrontational simulations as a part of female self defense training, most training facilities are not properly prepared or equipped to provide this training in a realistic, yet safe environment. Instead, they just depend on having trainees memorize a bunch a self defense techniques which they may or may not remember under stressful conditions or may or may not be able to adapt if the techniques they learned start to fail due to circumstances beyond their control, such as injury, adverse environments, unexpected weapons, additional attackers, etc. The effective and responsible use of confrontational simulation training allows the trainee to make these adjustments because it allows the trainer to create the conditions which would cause a person to have to adapt while under stress and in "real time".

Of course, just suiting up properly trained instructors in protective gear does not in and of itself guarantee a safe confrontational simulation. The environment in which the confrontation is to take place must also be well protected. Therefore, proper equipment, proper staff training and safety protocols and proper supervision are essential in order to make this training feasible, realistic and safe.

Future articles on this topic will be focused on helping the female self defense trainer gear up to provide this valuable training to their students and will include recommendations on how and when to include confrontational simulations of varying degrees and complexity into the training environment.

This column will alternate articles and editorials geared toward the female just looking for practical advice on how to avoid or deal with self defense situations, the female looking for practical training to protect themselves and family members, the female already in training, who is looking for ways to enhance her training and the trainer looking to improve or expand upon training that he or she is already providing.

In closing, I would like to quote an old warrior, who after listening to me brag about my martial arts prowess to a point that nauseates even me now, when I think back over 40 years to the talented and cocky martial artist I was then and now have to endure some of the same when I listen to some of my own students...

She said, "You may be the greatest martial artist in the world, but can you fight"?

I look forward to sharing the insights gifted to me by others along the way and those I have learned the hard way on my own simply by living long enough to survive enough mistakes to teach others how not to make them.

So sit back, fasten your seat belts and check in on this column every month or so, because we are in for one hell of a ride.

The author welcomes your comments and insights at