Turns out, you just slipped on a little bit of spilled water. How’s that. Someone spilled a little bit of water on the ground, and now you’re about to get you ass kicked because of it.
One of the most crucial and overlooked components of self-defence, which is vastly different to combat sports and martial arts, is the physical environment in which the conflict takes place.
Most of the time (or all of the time, depending on what and how you train) you will be training in the dojo or the ring. You know the space well and are probably so familiar with it that you don’t give it a second thought.
But real violence doesn’t happen in the sterile environment of the dojo or gym.
So, how does the environment affect your ability to perform? Let’s have a look:
- Crowd Control – in the dojo or the ring you know exactly how much space you have to move in. And most of the time it will be enough space to allow you to move around quite a bit.
That’s not the case in a real-world violence situation. You might be in an extremely tight or crowded space, where movement is highly restricted. Examples include elevators, crowded public areas such as bars or pubs, public transport (bus or train), in a motor vehicle, a corridor, etc. This impact on a wide array of variables that relate to outcome of the confrontation, including (but not limited to), your ability to maintain a reactionary gap, physical techniques, ability to avoid or escape, etc.
- Slippery When Wet – the dojo floor is even, matted and comfortable. Some of the issues you might face in a real-situation include wet or slippery surfaces, uneven ground, tripping hazards, etc. Not to mention the fact that the surface is likely to be hard (sidewalk, floor, etc.), which means falling and going to ground is going to suck a lot more than you’re used to. It also affects your ability to execute certain moves, your ability to create torque to generate power, etc.
- Scene-Sensitive Senses – how’s that for a tongue twister. What I mean by this is that the environment is likely to be, from a sensory perspective, different to your usual training environment. It will look different. It will smell different. It will sound different. It will feel different. Maybe the weather is hot, so you are both sweaty and slippery. The daylight is very bright so you have to squint. Maybe it’s dark and you can’t see well. Maybe it’s cold, so your hands are in your pockets. Maybe there’s loud music playing and you can’t quite make out what the other guy is saying, or your friends can’t hear you call for help. Maybe the smell of alcohol on his breath as you are grappling makes you gag.
Our senses are powerful, and they affect how we perform.
- Dress Code – what you are wearing, while maybe not a part of the external environment per se, will definitely affect your performance. Try throwing head kicks while in a short dress and high heels, with a champagne glass in one hand and a purse in the other. Definitely not easy. Errr, I mean that’s what I’ve been told, at least. What we wear and carry with us on a daily basis has a huge impact on what we can and can’t do.
And the hardest part?
All of these will affect you at the same time. In other words, you might be wearing restrictive clothing, and carrying a bag, and standing on uneven ground, while walking through a narrow alleyway, on a rainy day, next to a loud construction site.
One small note: other people can function as part of the environment, but have I have addressed that before. You can read about this here.
Oh, and one more thing. These factors obviously affect the other person as well. With that being said, chances are, if you are dealing with someone who has experience in violence, that they have had to deal with those factors before, and are more accustomed to them. Also, in the event of premeditated violence, the person who is attacking you would have gone through a victim selection and surveillance process. This means that they are going to try and select where the attack happens and use the environment to best help them in the attack.
The problem with adding these things to training on a very regular basis, is that they can increase the risk of injury. That can be overcome, but is something to be aware of.
I hope this helps you in improving your training!
Stay safe, stay tuned.