By Scott Shaw
As martial artists we continually train or bodies and our minds to encounter combative situations in the most effective and expedient manner possible. To this end, we must continually reevaluate and refine our training methods to ensure that we will be prepared to defend ourselves no matter where a battle finds us. For this reason, Environmental Fighting is one of the best training methods available.
Environmental Fighting finds the martial artist setting up a situation where he or she is in a less than ideal fighting posture and then must effectively defend him or herself from this positioning. Thus, the practitioner develops the natural ability to refine their defensive and offensive methodology to met whatever type of combat they encounter.
In most martial art classes, students train in a very sterile manner. They face off against their training partner and then performed prescribed blocks to specific punches or kicks. Or, they may perform specific hand-techniques designed to defend against a specific grab or hold. Though these are all age-old training methods, if that is the only self-defense training one practices, if they find themselves in street combat, where no rules apply, they are often left with a less then ideal skillset of what to do against a wildly driven thug.
To begin to work with Environmental Fighting you simply need to set up a combat situation and then have your opponent move in towards you with various random attacks. Obviously, in the initial stages of Environmental Fighting training, your opponent is not going to come at you full speed or with full power. But, by simply unleashing an undefined technique in your direction you will be forced to come to understand what defense is most appropriate and effective against that type of assault.
In is essential in Environmental Fighting training to make sure your defensive techniques are realistic to the environment where you find yourself. For example, when I was a young boy, my instructor set up a chair and a small table in the classroom and demonstrated how he could deliver a roundhouse kick to the head of his opponent across the table. Though this was an early example of Environment Fighting, even then I realized that if you were in a crowded restaurant, sending a wide roundhouse kick to the head of your opponent was not going to be an easy feat to perform as you may get hung up on the table next to you or by a guest dining next to you and so on. The point is, though you will obviously be training in Environmental Fighting in the dojang, it is essential to be sure to train in a realistic manner.
The dojang environment is a safe and controlled place where you can refine your training skills and make Environmental Fighting a part of your overall training regime. To do so, is quite simple. You simply need to place yourself in an unrehearsed, less than ideal position, and then have your training partner come at you with various aggressive techniques. For example, one Environmental Fighting technique to work with is to have your back up against the wall where your opponent has pinned you in. From this training position you will learn how to effectively push your opponent back and deliver close-contact strikes to his body that will leave him disabled.
Another ideal training posture work with is to be sitting on the floor when your attacker accosts you. From this position you will learn how to best deal with low kicks that are directed towards your head and body and how to quickly and effectively get up and reposition yourself and then continue through with appropriate self-defense.
Laying face down, like you may be doing at the beach, is another training posture of Environmental Fighting to work with. By discovering how to defend yourself from a fully prone position, perhaps the hardest of all positions to effectively emerge from, you will gain invaluable knowledge about true methods of self-defense.
The main thing to keep in mind when working with Environmental Fighting is to never let your techniques become stagnate or predetermined, nor should you ever believe that what works for your training partner will work for you. Each situation and each person possess a completely unique set of variables. For this reason, you must never believe that one technique will universally work in all situations. You must forever be willing to immediately change your defensive strategy the moment you come to understand that it will not leave you dominate in any physical combat situation you find yourself in. Environmental Fighting is the ideal training method to develop the insight into what truly works and how you can emerge victorious from any confrontation.
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