By Rob McNab

Neat phrase – but what does it mean? Reality of a night out in the pub? Reality of your business trip to Bogota? Reality of your office day-job and evenings down at the W.I.? To each, their own……

Reality-based training doesn’t mean training for particular contexts. Otherwise, we’d need to train every conceivable scenario to be properly prepared. Instead, the fundamentals of reality-based training are to provide a set of principles we can apply as a panacea.

Yes, perhaps the threat level and specifics might differ from your trip to Bogota or your late evening walk home from the local, but the training for responses to problems that can potentially arise should be universal.
Reality is “the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined.”

The key there, for me, is “….actually exist…..”.

Hopefully you look for or come to training to avoid and become capable in dealing with violence or aggression. I am quite sure that most of us can recall the sense of fear at what might happen if the school bully gets to you (because the rot starts here!), or the pub hard-man decides he doesn’t like your face. That fear has a value as an innate, and wholly rational, reaction to want to preserve ourselves from harm – but for those of us who have found out what happens when you do push your luck, or walk into the wrong bar, or get involved in something that simply goes in a way you didn’t expect – I guarantee it never goes down like you imagined, nor did it feel like you thought it might either physically or mentally.

The reality of conflict (which a decent reality-based system instructor should be able to draw from) is that it gets your head and your heart way before it blacks your eye! Adrenal stress response to pre-fight or aggressive scenarios can render the bravest and toughest souls useless if they haven’t experienced it, or something close to it.

A mindset of fear – of physical, mental, perhaps legal consequence for both yourself and those involved – can leave you as a victim where you need not be. All the correct technique in the world will leave you if you’ve never tried to use it against a committed and sustained attacker who is fighting for real, rather than to a sporting or stage-managed formula.

So back to my neat phrase – Reality-based Training. What this means is the reality of a committed attacker or attackers; the reality of their lack of conformance to any rules or compliance with their training partner; the willingness to make it as real as you can imagine when you’re training, so you may get some way to the actuality of it. The understanding of the all the physical and mental aspects of dealing with issues long before it may become physical.

Is your training covering this? Are you anxious, pressurised, stressed, tired and weak at some point across your training sessions? And are you working through and finishing exhausted but amped-up and feeling like you could actually stand your ground for real if it comes to it?

You should be – or you should find somewhere that gives you that reality…. because your training is either real, or it’s an exercise class – and life isn’t playing with you when it grips you by the throat.