The chart is entirely down to me. It’s come together over the years and reflects my SD influences, such as Geoff Thompson, Dave Turton and Steve Richards, but it is my own take on things.
It is really about tailoring your training –that’s what it is for. When I first took up MA I had very little control over the training activities I did – I just went along with the class etc. Over the years I have had more control over my training and wanted to devise training patterns which best suited my goals and limitations. The chart came about as a way of evaluating my training options relative to my goal, which is SD proficiency.
I feel that many martial artists fall into the trap of trying to fit “reality” around their art. I think it is far more commonsensical to do the reverse and try to fit your training to the reality of your goal.
Now I am one of those who believe that the best training is that which is closet to the target activity yet sustainable. This general approach leads to a desire to increase your comfort zone towards your target activity so that any step-up between training and “reality” is reduced. That doesn’t mean that you do not do supporting activities which compliment your higher pressure training. You may disagree, in which case this whole exercise is lost on you. Each to their own.
The first step was deciding what factors contribute to make a training activity closer or further away from the reality of SD. I took “reality” to be an all-out fight with no rules – a notional concept which I agree is not always the case – this model does not prevent you applying a scalable response to any real SD situation.
The key factors as I see them are:
Contact Level which is how hard you are hit/thrown/pinned etc, but also increasing score if contact is made to the face, and reducing score relative to the amount of protective equipment worn.
Bandwidth of Resistance which is the diversity of attack you are likely to face – i.e. fewer rules = closer to “reality”. Score was detracted for stop-start setups, choreographed responses etc.
I believe that of the two factors, Contact Level is more important because it addresses the mental aspects of fighting, which are a major issue, to a greater extent. You can fight with “no rules” to restrict techniques, but if it is non-contact then it can hardly be equal of fighting full contact within a highly restrictive rule-set. But I could not get away from the fact that the fewer rules (i.e. the greater the range of resistance you are likely to face), the closer it is to the target activity. If contact levels alone where used to gauge relevance, boxing would be equal to Muay Thai even though Muay Thai has fewer restrictions on the types of attack you will face.
The next stage is to attempt to plot the various training activities available to you. My basic placements are as follows:
*A typical example of an “Asymmetrical drill” would be the attacker wears boxing gloves whilst the defender doesn’t wear gloves, maybe a gumshield and head guard. Starting from a confrontational setting (‘fence” etc) the attacker goes heavy contact whilst the defender attempts to achieve the goal set – such as smothering the attack with a dominant clinch. This fits within a goal-orientated (as opposed to technique orientated) training approach and is what many people mean when they say “pressure tests” etc. It is asymmetrical in the sense that the attacker and defender have different goals/rules. There are numerous variations on the theme and exact placement would vary depending on the specific rules/contact levels.
The scores are approximate and really a judgment call. The important thing is not to allow stylistic bias to cloud your judgment.
Note how in general the heavier the contact, the more rules are normally placed, that makes training safer. MMA competition is clearly not sustainable as a weekly training activity, for example. Also note how few if any training activities actually get close to the notional ‘real’ fight. Not even MMA in the sense that it is still 1:1 and unarmed and never initiated from ambush (you know you are going to fight before you have to). BUT, find a training activity which is closer. One possible contender is “animal day” training as promoted by Geoff Thompson in UK. Animal day is basically full-tilt sparring along MMA lines but with an SD orientation. It tends to be less heavy contact than MMA sparring because heavier bag gloves are worn and these are typically discarded once the fight goes to the ground in which case striking the face is not allowed (at least not if you discard your gloves). Recent improvements in MMA training gloves make “animal day” and MMA sparring virtually the same however. Another training activity that would be plotted closer to “reality” than MMA is the dog Brothers type stick affair because it involves weapons. However, it has the detracting factor of having you armed which is very different from most SD situations where most of us cannot rely on being armed.
The next stage is to plot your comfort zone. Which of the training activities are you mentally comfortable with? Does going in the ring with a boxer scare the poop out of you? Etc.
An example comfort zones might be:
The next stage is to attempt to expand your comfort zone, small steps at a time. Examples might be upping the contact levels of your sparring, reducing the rules etc.