Training drives practice

In the past I would confuse training and practice, using the words interchangeably. ¬†Over time I realized there is a distinct difference and it’s an important one. Once I understood the difference I was able to properly use training, (as well as competition), to steer the direction of my practice sessions. Much like circumstances dictate strategy, we can say training and competition dictate practice.

Training, and competition, allows someone else to dictate the direction of the events hopefully taking us out of our comfort zone. Training will reveal weaknesses, and holes in my game. How often does gear break in practice compared to training or competition? Almost every time one of my guns failed me wasn’t during a practice session. Pouches or holsters don’t shear off hangars in practice but during a competition or training event? That one screw I didn’t Loctite will sure enough work loose and allow a crucial piece of gear to fall away.

If you want to see an athlete work on a weak point, let that weak point be the cause of a loss. I lost an MMA fight to a rear naked and poor physical prep. Guess who has two thumbs and worked escapes from rear naked chokes every practice for months after that event? This guy. This guy also put some serious work into understanding water depletion and re-hydration as it pertains to making weight. I think I had a water bottle in my hand every waking moment for six weeks after that experience. Want to know what else was in my water bottle in addition to water? A pinch of sea salt but that’s subject matter for another day.

Jelly Bryce could drop a coin from shoulder height, then draw his duty revolver and shoot the coin before the coin hit the floor. Jelly Bryce was known for a relentless dry and live fire practice regimen.

I strongly encourage you to participate in training and/or competition as often as you can so you can find weak points in your game. Once you know your weak points, construct a practice regimen to consistently strengthen your weak points until you don’t have any weak points.

Conscious practice

I posted a Vlog on conscious practice. For me conscious practice is making every movement in a practice session an intentional action.

One of the key ways I’ve learned to do this is to visualize myself performing the movement perfectly, then verbalizomg the movement as I physically take action. Essentially I’m visualizing, then talking myself through the performance points as I execute each one.

I’ve found this to be beneficial for skill development as well as refinement. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

A little more on conditioning

In this Vlog I mention the approach I take to anaerobic threshold drills. I thought I would take a few moments to flesh this out a little for you folks. Check out the vlog and then read more below.

I mentioned waving my work load, and here is how I schedule the wave. For illustration purposes let’s say I’m going to do my threshold work on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

  • Week one; my Monday session will be one minute drills and I will do three reps. I’ll rest one minute between reps. On Wednesday the session will consist of four reps, with one minute rest between reps. Friday’s session will be five reps with one minute between reps.
  • Week two; Monday is four reps with one minute rest between reps. Wednesday we do five reps, and Friday we’ll bang out six reps. Keeping rest periods at one minute.
  • Week three; Monday is five reps, Wednesday will be six reps, and finish Friday strong with seven reps. Still only resting one minute between reps.
  • Week four; Monday begins with six reps, Wednesday is seven reps and Friday we grind out eight reps. You know the drill, one minute rest between reps.
  • Week five; Monday we start strong with seven reps, Wednesday we’ll do eight, and we’ll make Friday our bitch with nine reps. Still an entire one minute rest between reps.
  • Week six; Things are starting to get interesting. Monday is eight reps, Wednesday is nine reps, and thank God for Friday because we finish with ten reps.

That completes one conditioning cycle. With threshold drills I mix a variety of events to keep it interesting. Sandbag lifts, sprints, side-shuffles, bounding, jumps, kettlebell swings, ropes, burpees, and other non-weighted explosive movements can be chained together to provide us with two minutes of continuous effort. The objective is to stay moving, and really push our anaerobic limits.

It absolutely sucks however, we want to learn to be comfortable in discomfort and this is one method to achieve that objective. Think of this as toughness training, don’t cheat yourself, be tough, gut it out and reap the rewards.

Common ground

In this endeavor we are driven to walk in a variety of circles that at times have seemingly little or no common ground. The objective is to find a way to holistically integrate everything we do by finding that common ground, the truisms that transcend the boundaries of each element. Thinking about this while looking through some pictures from last years Rangemaster Tactical Conference, I found one in which the legendary Mas Ayoob photo-bombed us. Seeing this photo reminded me of a few things that stuck with me from that training session and from the Rangemaster Tactical Conference.

  • 1) Be a student of the game, always. I watched legends in this field, guys I read about in the police academy, taking blocks of instruction alongside folks that had never taken a formal class. These living legends were there to learn first, and even when teaching they still have an inquiry mindset.
  • 2) Be genuine, humble, and have a sense of humor. If Tom Givens, John Farman, Mas Ayoob, Chuck Haggard, Craig Douglas, and Wayne Dobbs can crack jokes, ask questions of regular Janes and Joes, and freely give of their knowledge? You know where I’m going with this… Be cool. Don’t be an asshole.
  • 3) The little things we do mean a lot more to others than we think they do. Mas Ayoob took a good chunk of time to walk me through the history, the why’s and how’s of the Ayoob Wedge so that I would better understand it for my own use and to share with others. That had a ginormous impact on me as a student and coach/teacher.
  • 4) My dad used to say that God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason; to listen twice as much as you talk. Having the opportunity to stand nearby and listen as legends in this endeavor discussed various aspects of this thing we do was priceless. Some things didn’t mean much to me at the time but a few months later it clicked. As Super Dave Harrington says, “Everything is important. Everything matters.” Even a conversation that at the time doesn’t make a lot of sense might later give you the insight you need to make a good decision. Don’t overlook the value of a seed planted. Be a sponge, particularly when in the company of folks that have been doing this as long or longer than you and I have been alive.

In summary, while this post is specific to my thoughts about the 2016 Rangemaster Tactical Conference, I could switch out some names and it could easily be about a SBG training camp or Shivworks Collective course. It’s really interesting to me that I keep finding the same common ground with everyone I’m privileged to train with or spend time around. If I were to make a Venn Diagram where the circles of the Shivworks Collective, the Straight Blast Gym, Rangemaster, The Site, and guy’s like Super Dave Harrington’s influence meet in my personal development there would be huge overlap in the areas stressing; training hard but intelligently, being cool, don’t be an asshole, and always be dangerous.