Yesterday I was training with one of my favorite training partners when the question arose over the usefulness of the technique we were training. My partner felt the technique had no use personally for the street. Something about this assertion bothered me at the time even though I have personally said the same thing. What bothered me about the statement is the fact that my experience and history have shown that this sentiment is a quick way to find yourself on the losing side of a fight. I will explain, in February 2001 I shipped off to infantry school. At the time America was enjoying the security of being the world leading super power. I distinctly remember my drill instructors, who were combat veterans telling me that we would never see war because what army in the world would ever attack America? This mindset also lead us to train a lot of large scale maneuvers in preparation for large scale ground war. This was all fine until the morning of September 11th when an unknown enemy used an unknown technique to kill innocent Americans. Two years later I was on the ground in Iraq fighting a guerrilla war against insurgents and having to learn a whole new way of fighting on the fly.
And here lies my issue with my partner’s statement. Of course we train to build our own skill and find those strategies and techniques that suit ourselves, but we also train to build mental flexibility. Mental flexibility will help us to keep from being surprised or caught off balance by our opponent. So always remember a few things when training.
• You are not just working to build your own skill, you are working to understand what skill your opponent could have.
• In order to beat a technique you need to understand it.
• Just because a technique is not in your wheelhouse today doesn’t mean it won’t be tomorrow.
• Train to never be surprised by a technique you have never seen.
In the end have an open mind, mental flexibility is the name of the game.