Do you train for real, or do you train for reality? The difference is a lot larger than you think regardless of style.
The idea of a difference between real or reality training is more focused on those arts that have a combat focus or combat based history. It is less true with those arts that are predominantly philosophical or health related. And in using the term reality I am not referring to the more recent crop of ‘reality’ fighting styles.
If we go back in time to the foundation of our arts it was common for them to have come from times of trouble, times of war or times when conflict was a general way of life. As such they were designed to be used; it was common for the techniques to be tested in actual battle. Even in times when there was no actual war or fighting it was well known that the seniors would go out and test their skills. This is evident in Korea where many instructors would challenge others to fight, or they would test their skills on the streets in the more criminal parts of the cities.
When it became less accepted to ‘test’ skills this way, some instructors came up with other ways to check that their training was based in reality. Mas Oyama was one these, not only did he test his skills against bulls, he also created the 100 man kumite as a test of ability and spirit. Society has changed and with it the ways we can test our skills. That being said the option for the Kyokushin 100 person kumite still exists if attempted rarely.
Where does this put us today? The first step is to train for reality as opposed to just real training. The difference comes from the intent and the way you train. I define training for real as someone who attends classes and follows the directions they are given. They train reasonably hard 2-3 times a week and put in a decent effort. Does this translate to being ready for reality? Will their training support the ability to be able use those skills in a real situation? This is really dependent on the person, not on their training.
In training for reality the focus in the training needs to shift. For example kicking skills need to not only be trained in the air but in a real context. Firstly you have to be able to develop power from the kick on a target or bag. Then the kick needs to be put into a reality focus through training the kick the way it may be required. Try kicking when the opponent rushes in randomly, try kicking when the target is off centre and also try kicking when you need to shift your weight or balance first. When you are able to kick with power in each of these situations the kick then becomes a tool that would be more likely to work in reality.
The same goes for those arts that use a locking, throwing or grappling. The locking should be trained against grabs that include resistance, different angles and different force. Try using the lock while blind folded and try using the lock while your balance is disrupted. These training tools will help prepare the skill for use in the ever changing environment that is reality. A combination of training your skills to be usable and effective in as many variable situations is most definitely the first step.
The next one is to work on intent and focus. When you kick or lock, make the technique the focus; make the goal to complete the technique regardless of the variables. One good drill is to have a partner Kiyap/Kiai loudly and randomly during a drill to disrupt your focus. When you are confident of your skill, test it in the class. This does not mean taking out your opponent, more that you get your opponent to push your limits. As an example if the technique is a kick defence, get a skilled kicker to be your opponent and ask them to hit you with that kick. You still are aware that a X Kick is coming but now you are facing an opponent who has the skill to hit you with it. This will bring into play an adrenal reaction which is another way to be ready for the street.
The idea’s here are not style based more a way to train skills so that they are more likely to be practical in reality. Taking your training up to this level will not only provide better martial art tools but also a greater sense of confidence. Really train and train for Reality!
Grandmaster Geoff J. Booth