Not dead because they had been stopped, dropped and ended on the ground, but dead because they weren’t making it real in their heads. They were just going through the motions, slap-fighting, playing grab-ass; smiling, joking, helping each other up. I saw people who were going to be very surprised—scared to death, if you will—when confronted with the true savagery of asocial violence.
And so we called them on it and jumped all over them, as we must… because we actually care.
It’s not enough to learn the “technique” or touch the target or do the move. You have to make it real in your head, rewire your brain for serious, all-out engagement.
You have to narrow your focus to a single target, make it your world, and make the destruction of that thing your only goal. All other considerations must be pushed aside and away—you must become the bullet looking out the end of the barrel. Then pull the trigger and drive yourself through the target to smash it.
How serious are you when you practice with a firearm?
It might begin as a good time out with friends, all pleasantries and handshakes and maybe a joke or two but the minute you pop the latches on that case and lay your hand on the grip you enter a different headspace where a training accident can kill. And when you point it down range and begin to work you focus because missing means you’re dead. You want the best possible practice so you can have the best possible performance—getting it exactly right when it matters most means you earn the rest of your life back from someone who wanted to take it from you.
I wouldn’t shoot with anyone who doesn’t take it seriously—the chances of a training accident go up dramatically and their lack of engagement will probably degrade my ability to focus and practice well.
Once, when shooting at an unsupervised remote range out in the desert, a pick-up truck roared up, music blaring, and backed up next to us in a cloud of dust. The driver exited the vehicle (music still blasting), hopped into the bed and kicked the tailgate down. He and his friends then proceeded to blast away out of the back of the truck while sitting on cases of cheap beer. Needless to say we packed up and left immediately.
On the one hand they were getting more training time with the tool in their hands and rounds down range. On the other the quality of that training was very poor—they were conflating the practice of asocial violence with social “good time” behavior. Their range time would not be equal to that of someone who made it real in their head.
When I hit the mats I treat myself like a firearm with the safety off—I’m doing human target practice and the next 20 minutes may be the last bit of training I get before I have to perform with my life in the balance.
So I focus, I make it real and make sure I hit all my targets and get all my injuries. I recognize and correct mistakes and am only truly happy with perfection. Anything less could get me killed.
Burning powder imparts all the necessary kinetic energy into a bullet to tear and smash human tissue. When it’s your boots and bare hands it is your will alone that impels the bullet of you. Whatever you tell yourself while you train—in the way you train—will be true for you when it matters most.
Treat it like a lazy, social game and you’ll slap a killer. Make it real, dial it down and focus for results and that’s what you’ll get.
As Tim says, “Slow doesn’t mean weak.” Slow gives you the luxury of time to get it exactly right, the time to recognize and correct your mistakes, the time to focus your thoughts, your self, into a single square inch of him he needs for normal function.
Slow lets you practice everything you’ll need to make injury real—an appropriate tool, a target, your mass in motion all the way through that target, the structure you need to transfer that mass in motion as tissue-disrupting kinetic energy—without having to worry about the one thing you already know how to do: go fast.
Mat time, it turns out, is not physically exhausting so much as it is mentally taxing.
Maintaining that mono-focus for ten, twenty, thirty (!) minutes at a stretch is hard. But if you can push through and manage that you’ll lay in a physical skill—and the mental ability to drive it home—that can more than see you through the critical five seconds you actually need to use it.
TFT Master Instructor
P.S. There’s just one chance left to quickly (and permanently) etch these lessons into your subconscious at the only TFT live training remaining in 2012.
And that session is right around the corner… November 10-11 in Las Vegas. After that it’s just private sessions all the way into 2013 (we haven’t finalized a 2013 training schedule at this time).