By Brent Yamamoto, Suarez International Instructor
Do you know, or do you just think you know?
These questions and many more are answered in Force on Force training.
In the martial arts world, the training progression basically goes like this:
- Solo training: learning, performing, and polishing the fundamental techniques. Punching, blocking, kicking, etc. Building gross and fine motor skills.
- Impact work: hitting stuff. Focus mitts, kick shields, the heavy bag…things that allow you to feel impact, generate power, and condition your body.
- Partner training drills: interaction with a partner in controlled sequences; building control, dexterity, and the ability to apply techniques against a live partner without killing each other.
- Sparring: either performed slowly under very controlled circumstances…or strapping on the armor and just wailing on each other. Sparring is basically practice for beating the snot out of a moving target that is punching back at you, while avoiding damage yourself. It allows you to see what works…and what does not.
- Dry practice: the equivalent of solo training in the martial arts, this fundamental level of training shouldn’t be underestimated. All the advanced stuff is predicated on a solid background and eventual mastery of the fundamentals. Dry practice improves our marksmanship and polishes all aspects of gun handling. It’s the foundation of everything we do. And it’s virtually free (unless of course you put a bullet through the TV).
- Live fire: the equivalent of hitting the bag. Important and absolutely necessary because you must know where your bullets are going, and develop the confidence that you can put them where you want.
For most people, that’s where their firearms training stops.
I doubt anyone would consider punching the air and hitting the bag to be sufficient preparation for the fight of their lives. Necessary, yes, but hardly sufficient. And I would argue that shooting stationary targets – though an important aspect of training – is less valuable to our overall fighting skills than hitting the bag.
Force on force is the gunfighter’s version of partner training and sparring drills.
“But it’s not real!” some say. Well, sparring isn’t ‘real’ either. The reality is that no matter what kind of fight training you do, you must make concessions to safety. You have to go to work on Monday – preferably with everything in roughly the same spot as it was on Friday.
Virtually all sparring and martial sports have limitations and only focus on aspects of the fight. Sometimes you emphasize grappling, sometimes striking. Paper targets emphasize marksmanship.
Force on force has its limitations (primarily that you know the scenarios will usually result in a gun fight...it removes the Orient phase from the OODA loop), but as a training tool it’s about as close to the real thing as you can get. Moving targets, multiple bad guys, drawing from concealment, shooting on the move…these are real skills that are applied in the real world.
No, it’s not a real gun fight…but I don’t know many folks who are willing to train shooting live bullets at each other. There is no substitute for seeing the real elephant. But force on force, though only a training tool, will give you the experience of knowing that you can prevail in a desperate encounter. That will increase your odds if the real elephant visits you.
Some consider it just a game. But facing a live opponent, one who is intent on shooting you, and intent on not getting shot…how is that more of a game than standing still shooting at a paper target??
It comes down to this: if you want to know how to fight, you have to fight.
Do you have what it takes? Do you know...or just think you know? Find out. Click here for upcoming force on force classes.