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Thread: How long is the fight you train for? Conditioning question

  1. #1
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    Default How long is the fight you train for? Conditioning question

    A question for the LEOs and security professionals out there if you would be so kind:

    When setting up your conditioning work how long are you envisioning the struggle might last for? I am referring to the unusual "balls to the wall" conflict when things have gone badly and you have one or more very resistant subjects to deal with?

    And in that regards, how are you structuring your anaerobic/aerobic training and other training to address this?

    Thank you for your thoughts.
    Al Heinemann
    www.shofukan.ca

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    Al

    I remember years ago - I think it was trainer George Williams - had data talking about serious LE encounters of the kind you are addressing that showed that in fights lasting a certain amount of time, say a minute, X number of shifts were lost, if it went on like three or so weeks or months were lost in terms of time off, and that a decent percentage of officers engaged in a life or death struggle more than five minutes or so never returned to work.

    Adrenal dump under life and death circumstances is a factor in conditioning beyond the amount of time it lasts. When engaging a protracted fight, the adrenal dump AND the time involved will tax conditioning that much more. The better the conditioning, at least the body will be used to it, and thus the psychological stress will not be exacerbated by that back-of-the-mind feeling that one is physically overwhelmed and "can't take much more of this."

    The better conditioned body will also handle injury better and allow one to continue during such a fight. My own experience with this had me take conditioning a bit more seriously after a serious on duty injury.

    In my personal experience what has been most like the feeling has been serious trail runs over hilly and rocky terrain and races such as Warrior Dash (though that's low end) or snow runs, certain Crossfit workouts, and 45 minute to an hour or more of Judo randori with serious competitors and minimal breaks.

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    Kit,

    Thank you for that.

    It seems like you favour a bit more of a longer conditioning session with intense periods interspersed (such as a very hilly but continuous run) over very intense but also very brief interval-style training (such as very hard hill sprints for a small number of repetitions with a recovery period between each interval)? Am I reading you correctly in that?

    What brought up my original question was in thinking about combat sports. Most combat sports I can think of (expect perhaps sumo) train for a much more extended and differently-paced fight than what we are likely to experience professionally or in the protective context. Following that assumption, how do we prepare? Do the favoured approaches to conditioning of boxers or MMA fighters serve us best? Or should we be looking at the preparations of say a 100 or 200 metre sprinter, a sumotori or an American football player?

    A somewhat tangential but related question for anyone interested: Do you incorporate training routines that involve inducing "gassing" (such as after doing burpees or very hard hill sprints) followed by attempts at more fine-motor oriented skills such as deploying a weapon correctly? Or perhaps "gassing" followed by decision-making or attempts at communication?

    Thanks. Glad that e-budo is lively again.
    Al Heinemann
    www.shofukan.ca

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    Allan

    Yeah, there's about four or five of us posting now...

    I think its in the combination. I started getting into trail running and running hills as a way of rehabbing that injury.

    MMA fights can have that intensity. When it does, I don't know that there is anything more like a fight in earnest. Still - and I know you are on TPI - I depart from some of the accepted wisdom there as to whether MMA and BJJ are really the best things for training unarmed combat, but that is a different discussion.

    Something like sumo or judo, i.e. short burst intensity where loss is something that can happen instantly as opposed to extended strategic fights, are more appropriate to the kind of conditioning I think is needed.

    For me trail running places me at a certain level of work, and then ups the intensity in bursts. Series of burpees (excellent, by the way, our team does them in gas masks for even more fun and excitement!) can do the same. I feel this is better preparation for the sudden, heart-pumping adrenal dump realizing someone is actively trying to hurt or kill you produces. Or, that results when suffering a significant injury at the hands of another in a fight.

    Of course its different - nothing can replace the psychological stress. But if your body is accustomed to that kind of physical spike through grueling, intense training then at least it won't be as much of a shock when you experience it. Kyle Lamb has said that combat should not be the first time you experience a real adrenalin dump.

    If you get a shock like that, it will only end up exacerbating your stress, not making it better.

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    A lot depends on whether you a) like the job and b) are close to retirement.

    If you like the job, then regardless of how you train (or didn't train), or how horrific the injury is, probably you will go back to work right away. You simply have a new (and probably funny) war story to tell around the figurative campfire.

    On the other hand, if you don't like the job or are a few months away from retirement, simply bending over to tie your shoe will cause you great emotional and physical hardship. At that point, you find the right doctor and attorney (you already know who they are), and voila! You're ready for pension.

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    "Gassing out" either through running or burpees before working DT was a regular part of our training. As Kit said, I don't think anything can replace the actual psychological stress... but simulating it through wearing yourself out before drills/sparring can go a long way towards getting accustomed to fighting from a disadvantage (i.e. no food or rest at end of a 12 hour shift and suddenly going from zero to OMG-He's-Trying-To-Kill-Me in 5 seconds).

    As long as you are stretching your "limit" during training I think you're on the right track. If training always seems easy and you barely break a sweat then it's time to up the intensity. If you can go a five minute round easy, bump it up. If you can barely make it to five minutes, try doing 3 minutes in successive intervals and push that envelope until you can do five minutes. Keep pushing you "envelope" because you can never quantify what the next bad guy is going to be capable of, all you can do is push your limits just a little further out.

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    I'm not sure how long of a fight I need to train for but I know on average it takes between a minute and 5 minutes for one of my officers to get to me. Even a minute can be a VERY long time. And that is assuming I am able to radio for help. We teach a lot of the civilian workers that no one knows you are in trouble until you tell someone. Until then you are on your own. This is in reference to hostile or threatening people coming into their office or work station. If I am in a fist fight and it lasts for 5 minutes I've messed up big time. Of course we always need to look at worst case scenario and train for it.

    The kata in Jikishinkage-ryu called Hojo when done correctly takes about 10 minutes to do and in theory it is done continually without stopping over and over again with each person changing roles of shidachi and uchidachi each time. This sort of training is very grueling when done correctly. One of my guys at the dojo was scouted to go pro in lacrosse (until an injury ended it). He says the Hojo is one of the most demanding "workouts" he's ever done. I even heard Donn Draeger, when he was doing his dojo for a day trainings, thought Jikishinkage-ryu was the most demanding ryu he had trained with. Legend? Fact? Who knows? I like the story though. I think Hojo training is a good way to train for a long fight. I think an art/sport like sumo is also good because it teaches you how to deal with a very short and intense bout. When we watch video of rikishi training we usually see them practicing in bouts where everyone is standing around watching and then the winner picks the next opponent (this is the most fun part of training to watch and video tape); king of the hill matches. It seems like a lot of standing around but that is usually done after hours of brutal training such as shiko, butsugarikeiko, teppo, etc.

    I am looking to add outdoor running and hiking to my activity list. I recently sprained an ankle running after a suspect. Most of my cardio work is in the gym on a machine (while the Mrs. is in her yoga class). I think I've determined I'm not used to running on uneven ground which might have contributed to my injury. I'm lucky because the campus I am stationed to is an old farm property with hills, trails and interesting places to explore and different challenges for me. Where I live is close to the water and it is VERY flat. I also have a wobble board to help. I think things like uneven terrain and how to run and move across them are an often neglected part of budo. Even though I've trained outside it is usually in a field, not down a wooded trail with tree roots and rocks.

    Cheers,
    Chris
    Christopher Covington

    Daito-ryu aikijujutsu
    Kashima Shinden Jikishinkage-ryu heiho

    All views expressed here are my own and don't necessarily represent the views of the arts I practice, the teachers and people I train with or any dojo I train in.

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    Hi all,

    This is a great thread about an interesting subject.

    Probably like most, the reality for me is that I work my butt off everyday while working, then barely drag myself home and eat dinner before passing out. Working out before work feels great, but requires I wake up even earlier than the 4am I normally wake up at, and also weakens my stamina if I need to draw on it during my watch. The first day off of work I'm wiped out, and need to let my body recover a bit or I'll end up with a fatigue headache for the rest of the day. On the other days off I've got to balance family with attention to (technically) three dojo. And finally, around all this I can usually fit in 1 or 2 visits to the gym for a cardio workout a week, which for me, is not enough.

    All this isn't to present a bunch of excuses why I don't maintain my cardio as much as I should (which I don't), but rather, to illustrate that, like many who work field assignments, I've found there are realistically very few opportunities to fit in enough of the kind of workouts I need. Some that do work out before watch, then put themselves at higher risk of failure due to being tight & slow, or, just plain sleepy from working out earlier. Others work out after work and just shorten their sleep or family time at home. And still others just don't really have hobbies or friends / outside interests outside of work, which on some level, I envy.

    So for me, the best solution I've been exposed to is one in which your supervisor allows you to work out on duty at some point during watch, perhaps 2-3 times a week if not daily. This is something that is sometimes offered when working special units, but not as much in patrol. Usually we would come in an hour early on our own time, then take an hour more on the clock, for a total of a 1.5 hour workout with 30 minutes to shower and get changed. Awesome compromise. SWAT guys, for example, usually are given this opportunity in order to ensure they stay in top shape, since their job demands if by definition.

    In summary, in my experience few field officers end up getting / prioritizing the amount of time necessary to workout and bring their body condition/stamina to where they'd like it to be, because in order to do so, something else important has to give (sleep, family, or other responsibilities). The martial arts I study are a great for mental/spiritual conditioning and intensity, but not as good a workout in terms of stamina training. Most martial arts that aren't competitive don't offer much in the way of stamina training, unless you drill specific things on your own (which I do).

    I'm not sure what the solution is, outside of prioritizing more cardio over other life interests (keeping a balanced life outside of work is very hard for most LEO, which is why LE - IIRC - have the highest divorce rate of any other job). For me, I end up in potentially problematic situations daily at work, but the one thing I've been able to trust is an intuition of when I'm at a tactical disadvantage, and, when one of my clients has shifted their mindset to that of an attack. This has given me a substantial edge so far in not being behind the ball if the use of force becomes necessary. I credit such an awareness to my martial arts training, which I've used extensively at work, and have found it serve me very well, thankfully.

    I know what I've said above doesn't sound very "cool", but I think for many this is the truth. There is always going to be somebody out there bigger, faster, or in better shape than you, no matter what you do. Train your best to increase your odds, but in the end, there's no guarantees. For guys like me, I guess we just do the best we can do as far as keeping up with cardio and maintain a tactical mindset.

    Regards,
    Nathan Scott
    Nichigetsukai

    "Put strength into your practice, and avoid conceit. It is easy enough to understand a strategy and guard against it after the matter has already been settled, but the reason an opponent becomes defeated is because they didn't learn of it ahead of time. This is the nature of secret matters. That which is kept hidden is what we call the Flower."

    - Zeami Motokiyo, 1418 (Fūshikaden)

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    Nathan --

    Not every boss is so trusting (or every worker so trustworthy). I say this because if you hurt yourself exercising on company time, you could file a workers' comp claim. An example. If you have a heart attack while drinking coffee at your desk or sitting in your patrol car, the heart attack probably won't be covered by workers' comp. But, if you have the same heart attack while running PT on company time, the heart attack probably will be covered by workers' comp. That's a problem for the agency, because the cost of a work-related heart attack to the employer is between $500 and $700K -- and that's if you go back to work. It's a lot more expensive if you don't.

    If, Lord forbid, you die as a result of the exercising, the attorneys will relate it to employment. There have been at least three deaths related to defensive tactics training, all at the academy. Look up Patricia Quinn, New Jersey, 1987, Jimmy Ray Carty Jr., Texas, 2005, and John Kohn, Virginia, 2010. TBI, all of them. This is why departments now discourage you from striking people in the head except during situations where use of lethal force can be justified.

    Recent DOJ data shows that a patrol officer's risk of injury due to assault is greatest when responding to a disturbance call. Transporting prisoners is also a high risk time. Officer death is more likely related to motor vehicle accidents or suicide than being shot by a suspect. In all situations, sleep deprivation is an issue, especially in older officers, officers whose shifts recently changed, and/or officers who have long commute times. http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/pdf/OSWG/e...OSWGReport.pdf

    A general wellness program is definitely worth management's time. You sit all day, then suddenly start sprinting after some shoplifter, and you're likely to pull a muscle. Chase a kid down an alley or through a backyard, and you're likely to trip, fall, and hurt yourself. And all of us can benefit from training in things such as: How to lift properly. How to climb over obstacles properly. How to adjust your gear so that it doesn't jam into your kidney as you sit in the car. And so on.

    So, to answer the question from the standpoint of the suits, the answer is that officers should be fit enough to wear body armor while on shift, regardless of ambient temperatures. Officers should be able to easily jog short distances wearing full battle rattle. Officers should have their alcohol, cigarettes, diabetes, and sleep apnea under control. And, perhaps most importantly, officers should know when to step back, swallow some pride, and call for backup.

    Along those lines, a Tohei story from the late 1950s. As far as I know, the gist of it is true.

    Tohei was sitting in the dining room of a restaurant with a bunch of Hawaiian policemen when a fight broke out in the bar. The cops stood up as a group and started to head into the bar. "No, no," said Tohei. "Help me move these chairs first."

    Tohei then started stacking the chairs against the wall, and pushing the tables to the wall. With so many people working, that took little time. "Okay," said Tohei, "now go in there and stop the fight."

    The cops went in, the fight stopped, and the two fighters headed off to jail. The cops came back in to the dining room, rearranged their chairs, and sat back down. "What was that about?" they asked.

    "Well," said Tohei, "it didn't look like either of the fighters was getting hurt too badly, and by waiting a minute, we gave the fighters a chance to get it out of their systems. So, by the time you got there, they were ready to stop. Had you gone in there right away, you'd have been wound up and they'd have still wanted to fight. That would have meant a brawl. In that case, I thought we should move the furniture so less of it would get broken."

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    Hi Joe,

    Good points. Thanks for contributing. The other side to the liability of having guys working out on duty, is that guys that are in better shape get injured less, which reduces liability on the back end. It is in the Departments best interest, image and liability wise, to make sure their employees are in good shape. Obviously, it's in our best interest too, and should be a major priority. But I think for many there is a practical compromise that is made, that generally results in a minimum level of fitness for what you describe, rather than an exceptional level.

    BTW, I love this:

    This is why departments now discourage you from striking people in the head except during situations where use of lethal force can be justified.
    Yeah, we got that lecture a few times. "Discouraged" is code for "we will find a way to burn you if you do".

    Regards,
    Nathan Scott
    Nichigetsukai

    "Put strength into your practice, and avoid conceit. It is easy enough to understand a strategy and guard against it after the matter has already been settled, but the reason an opponent becomes defeated is because they didn't learn of it ahead of time. This is the nature of secret matters. That which is kept hidden is what we call the Flower."

    - Zeami Motokiyo, 1418 (Fūshikaden)

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    I work in EMS, and our demands are different from LE. There is some crossover.

    For 'training for a fight', I try and get as statistically close to reality as possible. As other posters have noted, the duration of real violence is as much of a variable as the causality or surprise and immediacy of its arrival. The former can be trained for, the latter is far more elastic.

    In professional terms, the suggested workout for Special Forces Selection gives a strong basis for combative fitness. There is fundamental emphasis on core strength combined with asymmetrical or off-balanced training. There is a wide range of cardiovascular tasks, from burpees to 40 meter runs, to 5ks, to ruck humps.

    Personally, I've found certain Crossfit protocols to have huge gains for dynamic tasks. One of my favorites is a workout called Murphy. Run to a place, do a lot of work, run to another place. Having to perform technical tasks when fatigued, especially if failing these tasks has physical consequences, is a big deal. This builds metal toughness.

    Nathan's point about work edging out training is well taken. At the end of a 12 or 16 hour shift, there isn't a lot of room for hitting the gym. Life, at that point, is one of fuel up, shower, sleep, and then do it all again.
    Last edited by No1'sShowMonkey; 22nd December 2013 at 08:09.

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    Nathan, and All-

    Well, there are some elements of reality and some elements of excuses in there….you know which are which.

    I am not talking about the day to day job. Being in shape and working out - on duty, or before shift, or whenever WILL mean you handle all those things better. You won't be "too sore" to effectively fight if you are training with an ounce of common sense. If you are fit for the fight for life, the day to day grind will be that much easier to handle. I am past mid 40s now, have worn SWAT gear for ten years, wear a rifle plate on patrol, but have taken care of myself so that the back issues I do have are not debilitating.

    Being out of shape and carrying a lot of midsection around PLUS all that gear is what what is debilitating.


    I have long been an advocate of mindset and survival training, and now teach it from the perspective of being behind the curve. Mine was put to the test. I came out of what was a really crappy situation that taught me a lot about complacency and relying on intuition and what we think about a situation and how we have a handle on it.

    One of the primary things said about officers that are killed or assaulted - they trust their instincts to get them out of a situation, or to see it coming. They think they are prepared for the worst when in fact they are simply hoping for the best. I've actually had people tell me that they did not need to work out that much because "they got the will to win."
    If you don't have the will to work out, how do you know you have will to win?
    I had gotten complacent and thought that regular training in Judo and BJJ was “enough.” But I realized that had things been worse, it would have gone worse. While I was doing that budo training I was slowly gaining weight as I broke 40, that my body was accustomed to my workouts and they were not taxing me or making me dig deep . I was “in shape,” but I was not “fit.” It just got easier to do it that way with all the other demands on time.
    I have worked Patrol for virtually my entire career, along with SWAT for ten years of that as a collateral assignment. As a trainer and training coordinator for our team I had and have a significant workload in terms of paperwork beyond the patrol work and operational SWAT stuff I do.
    I find the time to work out, and not on duty. I never take my duty time to work out as I am too busy. Sometimes I may have skip two days or so, but I try not to go past that.
    At times, my workout may be literally a ten or fifteen minute session, say sets of burpees or a kettlebell workout that is demanding . It is readily do-able with the focus and commitment. You can even do it with family members, or, you can do it while they are watching TV or even chatting with you right next to you. Tell them you are doing it for your safety at work and they will understand completely.
    I believe that one of the primary things we can do for our loved ones is to make sure that we are in a state of physical and mental readiness to deal with a life and death encounter. I have had the experience of lying in hospital bed with a bullet in my chest, seeing a shell shocked wife over me and a toddler that could not be in the room with me as she was too frightened by my appearance.
    It gave me visions of what would have happened had it been the medical examiner’s office instead.
    Now, with a marriage separation (yay for statistics!) with extended travel time now for martial training and seeing my child, a new relationship, and other work, I have to check my time and skim here and there. I DO lose sleep. I DO lose down time and alone time, but I CHOOSE to sacrifice it for my child and to be ready: both in order to see her now AND IN THE FUTURE.
    Martial training DOES suffer- and I really have to consider deeply whether my time is better spent talking on the Internet, researching combatives and koryu, and training in, say, a sword art that has a tangential relationship to survival skills or whether I want to focus on those things that will apply much more directly, such as shooting skills and weapons manipulations and grappling with weapons involved. Nice to know versus need to know to be just that little bit better.
    Since that incident I’ve kept 20lbs lighter, am much stronger and in better shape than I was ten years ago, and regularly place in the top five or six on a challenging team PT test over men ten years younger than I am – doing the “here and there” workouts I described, occasional trail runs, and at least for the last year, only occasional grappling training.
    It can be done. The time you DON’T want to be wishing you had worked out more is when that 30 year old, 230 lb prison-yoked old ex-con is on top of you, you are gassed, and you are mentally transitioning into praying rather than fighting. Its NOT when a bullet goes through your chest, shatters your ribs, and deflates your lung and you have to keep going, and you have not been inured to it through serious, physically taxing and occasionally grueling, physical training.
    You can’t do it all at once. As Musashi said (paraphrased), be a bit better than you were yesterday.
    Chad Lyman, a trainer that I know, puts it really well. He told his wife that he trains so that, if he were not to come home one day from the job his family would know that it was just “his time.”

    It would not have been because he had not done what he could to prepare himself.

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    Sorry if its harder to read - am not able to edit the above for paragraphs (?)

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    Thinking about this more, I'd like to note that you don't really know in what state/environment/condition you will be in when a serious hand to hand confrontation might occur:

    Is it at the end of a foot pursuit? After jumping fences? After a slog up or down a muddy hillside? After having to crawl through debris, or kick down a door that took a lot of hits?

    You might be tired before the fight even starts....

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    Hi Kit,

    I agree with everything you wrote. But just to be clear, I used my scheduling and life issues as an example of the kinds of things that most have to try to attend to - in addition to job training - in order to have any form or balanced life (BTW, I forgot going to court on a regular basis as well - often on days off). For many, we work out whenever we can, without the rest of the balance falling apart. The result seems to be, more times than not, a minimum to average state of readiness.

    We all have an ideal we strive for, but for LE, reality is our friend. Obviously, there is no question that being in better shape is better than not. That being said, I think it is valuable to educate and remind each other of the risks and actual demands we need to prepare our bodies for.

    Regards,
    Nathan Scott
    Nichigetsukai

    "Put strength into your practice, and avoid conceit. It is easy enough to understand a strategy and guard against it after the matter has already been settled, but the reason an opponent becomes defeated is because they didn't learn of it ahead of time. This is the nature of secret matters. That which is kept hidden is what we call the Flower."

    - Zeami Motokiyo, 1418 (Fūshikaden)

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