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JWT's picture
Scenario Simulation with impact for youths

As many of you know I design and run scenario simulation training for both my own students and for external clients and martial artists at open seminars. In these days everyone in the simulation, from the bystanders to the 'victims' to the aggressors is kitted out with body armour so that everyone is a potential target.  I find this adds to the uncertainty of the event (combined with separate briefings for participants so that not everyone  knows if the situation is going to escalate to physical violence or who is most likely to do so) and increases  that likelihood that students are actively trying to de-escalate the situation rather than just see it as an opportunity to play and try to hit each other hard.  As with real life we do have situations that go physical even when an attacker was briefed with a remit to back down, either because the body language and verbal from the 'victim' has been poor, or because the 'victim' has preemptively started the conflict before it was unsalvageable.

Obviously the armour is a controversial issue with some people.  For me it is a slight compromise of mobility against the ability to train hard and take impact for longer, as well as opening up the possibility of impact training and the 'simulation experience' to those who are not conditioned enough (whether due to time, age, size, medical conditions, interest etc) to risk impact without the armour.  In the videos you may notice two participants in pink are wearing a different form of skinnier body armour which allows them greater mobility - but they also feel more impact as the armour isn't plate.

Generally speaking I run these days for adults, or at least adult sized students.  Like many trainers I give younger and smaller students the experience of defending themselves agaisnt a padded adult, but this weekend I structured some training to allow much younger lads to don armour and try the full scenario experience.  In doing so I wanted to look at two number of different training dynamics in addition to the normal ones :  what could the young men do under pressure and how would their presence affect the approaches of those assigned bystander of familial roles in the same scenarios?

I would be the first to say this form of training is not for everyone.  

On the day we had safety briefings, examined each other's PPE, and had a period of time engaging in contact acclimatisation in the armour.  The video that follows looks at all the scenarios that involved the two 12/13 year olds.  We began with same age skills access acclimatisation - it's one thing to do a drill on the spot in the lesson, it's something else to do the same drill with the verbal abuse and the armour knowing that the person is going for you and you have to hit them.  The same attack was repeated three times at three different speeds.  Once we had done this we repeated the process with an older/larger attacker, my co instructor Chris Nicholls.  During the course of the day we worked two basic small environments, one replicating a narrow local street with cash points outside both a pub and a MacDonalds, the other replicating a lift foyer in a multi storey car park.  Participants were either tasked with being themselves or were briefed to play particular types of attacker.

After each training sequence the video footage was analysed and feeback given to the students.  We found this tremendously useful.  All the participants are my students, but from two different clubs (with slightly differing training methods), and the student in Khaki was a former senior student of mine attending his second Sim Day and first training since a previous Sim Day in February 2012 (which was also his first training in the preceding 12 months).   Looking at the video we can see a number of good points where drills or parts of drills have been accessed, but also a number of common faults such as the 'act/don't act' hesitation in students, failure to move, and single target focus.  We did have issues with a few of the new chaps role playing bad guys for the first time

I was very impressed by how the two young lads developed during the day as they grew in confidence.  They came out of each scenario buzzing and beaming but were very quiet and serious during the debriefs where they could see that what to them was a moment's  hesitation actually lasted for several seconds.  They weren't the only students present (or receiving training) and we got a lot of constructive feedback for everyone (including non participating coaches) involved.

WARNING: Video contains bad language.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Interesting stuff John! Thanks so much for sharing.

JWT's picture

Thanks Iain (and thanks for the mention on Saturday too).

If anyone has any questions about what we've done there, or would like to comment on some of the freeze moments or failures they've spotted, then feel free. 

John Titchen