I have posted before separating certain concepts by calling them “training” and “practice” and I am going to add to that here.

I admit freely the distinctions I make between training and practice are my own. I find it useful to know what you are doing and one of the issues self defence has is a lack of terms so these are mine.

Briefly I posted previously that training is where you are taught and corrected and practice is where you test your learning and undergo operant conditioning – the only critique in practice is if worked or it did not.

Let me take that concept farther.

This week I had the wonderful experience of teaching Knife Defence to a group of Alberta Peace Officers at their annual convention. They were a great group of people and I truly enjoyed it.

Before I get to the next part I want to say it deals with one individual and his opinions but, and I want to stress this, this is not intended to be disrespectful to him in any way. He presented his opinions to me during a break, privately and in a very respectful manner. I appreciated his comments and some I agreed with. He was to return later to the training but didn’t so I didn’t have the opportunity to give this response – frankly my mind was too much on what I was going to cover next to formulate a proper response at the time.

The situation was that this individual had conditioned responses to a knife assault and had used those responses successfully. He felt because of his conditioning he wasn’t able to attempt what I was showing that was different. He also felt that in his experience the application of a knife defence had to be decisive and done all out with total speed and power therefore that is how it had to be trained. He recommended that after the break we amp things up and have everyone going hard.

I had suggested earlier he slow down his responses so he didn’t kick in his conditioned response and attempt to learn something new but he wasn’t able to and respectfully withdrew so that he didn’t interfere with his partner’s learning – his choice and, as I have said before, done with complete respect.

I agree in a real situation you must respond with total commitment and ferocity. He is 100% correct on that.

I disagree with the requirement to amp it up and do that during training.

There is a time to amp things up and to fully pressure test them and that is in practice.

In practice, you have done the training and you have learned everything about a technique or principle and how to apply it. You know what it can do – and by that, I mean you know the damage it can do and you should know exactly how it does the damage.

However, as you are learning something new you do not possess any of that knowledge and if you go full out amped up hard without knowing what can be done you do not have the knowledge to control the technique and properly protect your partner.

To take this to the extreme if you don’t know pointing a gun and pulling the trigger can hurt someone then you see no reason not to do so.

You need to learn.

You need to be able to learn dangerous violent things safely in a safe environment. (Paraphrasing Rory Miller.)

Going hard and amped up before you have the understanding of what you are doing can injure people.

People should not be injured in training.

Yes accidents will happen but injuries should not be caused by how you train. Bruised and sore is okay – injured and unable to work is not.

I know some people don’t want to train in certain settings or places, or with certain people because they do not want to be injured and it is because those places or people do not understand the distinction I am making between training and practice.

I, respectfully, did not amp up the training. In fact, as fatigue set in we pulled things back.

In addition, training by going fast hides imperfections and errors. If you need to go from A to B to C to D and you rush from A to D then often you miss B and C and that is where a skilled person will make you fail.

I wished he had stayed because what I do does not require power, just proper movement and mechanics and, from what I saw, his did.

He was a strong guy so it had worked for him and that makes it very hard for anyone to look at other things. If something has saved your ass in the real world it is difficult to consider changing it.

However, if you rely on speed and/or strength to make something work, then it only requires someone faster or stronger to make you fail. In real application absolutely add speed and power but it should only increase the damage or decrease the application time – not whether the technique works or does not work.

Training is learning.

Once you learn something it must be practiced.

Practice it where you push the limits of your training.

With respect, just my opinion.