Realities Created, Maintained and Destroyed, WHILE-U-WAIT!

Monday, January 24, 2005

Environmental Considerations

I spent a good deal of Sunday shooting photos after what people tell me was the worst blizzard of the last hundred years.

As environmental ass-whippings go, this was not so bad from the place I was sitting, though it sounds like it was no fun for plenty of other people. I have to admit, after several years without a real winter I have been enjoying myself all too much.

As I was plodding about in knee deep snow, in my heavy winter parka, pac boots, hat, and other bits of protection from the -20 F. temperatures (with wind chill), the thought went through my mind that it would be extraordinarily challenging to have to fight under such conditions.

So just out of curiosity I found a safe place for my camera and experimented a bit. I began going through my Jurus and lankahs (small kinetic chains of movement from which the martial art I practice derives techniques). It was very interesting.

Footwork changes radically when you have to move through knee deep powder snow, not knowing what may be hidden underneath, and with a lot of slipperiness.

Have you ever tried to quickly draw and open the pocket knife clipped to your pants pocket, under a thigh length parka while wearing heavy ski gloves? Moving through snow really tests your aerobic capacity as well.

My first FMA (Filipino martial arts) teacher was a great believer in environmental training. He never had a school as such. We trained all over the place. Sometimes we would train on grass, sand, heavy brush, the slope of a hill, the rocky bank of a creek.

He used to insist that a fight had the same chance of happening in a favorable environment as beating the House in Las Vegas. That was maybe just a bit of overstatement on his part, but it got the message across.

If you are training for sport competition this is not so important. The environment is pretty much set for you whether it is a ring, a mat or an octagon. But even so, environment training can give you an edge since it will tend to improve balance and such.

Where environmental training really becomes important though is in the more combat oriented arts.

If you are training for ”real world” altercations, then you really need to train in environments that can approximate a real life situation.

If you are training in a combat art you need to get out of your school as often as you can. Get out onto challenging ground, deep sand, knee deep in a creek, in the dark on slippery grass, use your imagination and see what happens. Then take your experience back to your school and work out ways to improve the areas that you have found could be improved.

When in a school I have always enjoyed taking a few wave bags and placing them at odd points on the mat, and maybe a couple of heavy bags laying about as well, then having my students spar. Way too many fights and assaults take place around all manner of interesting obstacles, so it makes sense to train like you are libel to have to fight.


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