“Only 10 – 20% of people can stay calm and think in the midst of a survival emergency. They are the ones who can perceive their situation clearly, they can plan and take correct action, all of which are key elements of survival. Confronted with a challenging environment they rapidly adapt.”
Recently, I came across the above passage in Deep Survival, by Laurence Gonzales and it is not a difficult jump to make this assumption to martial arts practitioners as well. Over the years I have seen and been in quite a few emergency situations, fights and a LEO altercations and I really believe that the author hit the nail on the head with this one.
Although, you can become the 10 – 20% with the right level of realistic and repetitive training, not everyone is willing to push themselves to their limits to do so. A ninjutsu practitioner must enter into this small band as there is no other way to survive a conflict other than to take immediately action in a calm manner, pulling what is needed for the situation out of their data banks from the harsh training you should be putting yourself through each day. Mental ability is more than half of your battle and should be emphasized in your training as well. How well do you perform under stress? Have you ever tried to see what you can do in a stressful situation? How do you prepare or even incorporate this tactic into your training regime? Let’s give you some methods so that you can become better adapted to deal with a Survival Situation.
Physical exhaustion: The ability to push through physical exhaustion is a key in developing mental fortitude and the belief that you can succeed through that which you didn’t believe possible. Add withering conditioning drills such as burpees, wind sprints, heavy bag punch and kick outs, extended training time. When you have completed your exhaustion training, add your skill specific work in now. One of my favorite scenarios here is shooting: I start with a 1mile trail run, end at the range where I have to do push ups, situps, burpees and then shoot for precision!
Weather: The ability to act or move in all weather, only comes from training in all weather. Outdoor training in the rain and especially in the cold for you hearty types should be a key point in your sessions. Here is a good one, stick your bare hands into the snow until they are hard to move and nearly frozen and the grab your sticks or other weapons and try to strike targets until the feeling comes back in them. I have often been outside in the winter striking a makiwara to toughen my ability to hit hard when necessary. It’s always fun when you leave a little flesh behind when your skin sticks to the target, so be careful!!
Now our training has to be harsh to prepare us for the real world, but here is another analogy. With the Olympic winter games upon us, one of my favorite sports to watch is the Biathalon, skiing and shooting! Think about this a timed race and shooting match combined! Training is often very tough but one I leave you with here is the following story:
Norwegian Magnar Solberg was an unknown heading into the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble. He was not favored to compete well, much less win. However, a bizarre and brutal summer training regimen devised by his coach allowed Solberg to concentrate on his shooting even under the pressure and exhaustion of the 20 km event. His coach forced him to fire at a target 50 meters away while lying on an anthill, with ants crawling into his clothes and on his face.
Although not an especially fast skier, Solberg hit 20 of 20 targets. His perfection earned him a gold medal.
So if you want to be in the 10 – 20 % who can act under pressure in a survival situation, start matching your training to help you develop the mental game you will need to do so.
More on Winter Training coming up!