Skill acquisition has always been the great love of mine. How to learn something quickly and adapt it to be used immediately. Having trained combat sports for 30+ years and coaching them for well over 20, there has always been a drastic difference between training the techniques and then applying them in the ”game”. I have always been curious about the reason, although it is obvious: the big difference in the game and learning how to play the game. Of course all self-defense and martial arts have various sparring and other types of resistance training. There are scenario-training and so, but if you have trained without attacker being active-attacker and continuing his/her movement, there is no transfer effect in place. Self defense is not a closed performance sport such as say, a 100 meter dash. That too would change if there were someone hitting you while you’re running your legs out. The real question is, why is most of the self-defense training then done as a closed sport: attacker not behaving as attacker but stopping their punch of kick or grab without continuing the movement?
As we came up with these questions already 15-20 years ago, the general answer was:" You'll just have to train more". Of course, train more, but what does it help if you're training one thing and expected to perform another?
So, during the past 15 years I have trained with a lot of great coaches from different sports and networking with the experts in the field of skill acquisition. Around 2015 I realized that one thing missing from the martial arts training was the integration of startle -flinch. Had I digged a bit deeper, I would have come across coach Tony Blauer's research on human psychology and physiology, but hey, "inventing" something on your own and then later knowing that others have done that already, only deepens the bond. As I have mentioned earlier, everyone involved with self-defense and martial arts should take a closer look at his work.
All right, a got a little side-tracked there but in martial arts and self-defense skill acquisition, the effects of startle -flinch and integrating that into the action is tremendously important. That's what I fell in love with in krav maga. Based on natural reactions means that you integrate your active defenses (or attacks) into your startle -flinch reaction.
In my first ten years of training, I started to realize that we were not taking everything out of the training. We were not taking advantage of the natural responses in the extent that we could have. So I started testing different training methods. Apparently I "found" the constraints-led approach😂.
Using constraints means that some options are taken away from me so I will be invited to do what we’re targetting to do. No need to do anything slow nor break it into parts, but just perform the task. We perceive the environment all the time. Then we move accordingly. Perception action coupling. In self defense training this leads to a problem if we are training a specific technique and we see the problem differently than what is required to be performed. We are in constant stress. Doing something that doesn’t feel right. Now there is a way around this! That is the CLA.
Although I had another "inventive break-through", there is a lot of material around from the ecological dynamics and constraints-led approach in training. Easiest way to get to that is to checkout Rob Grey, PhD., and his Perception Action podcast or just get Rob's books "How we learn to move" and "Learning to optimize movement".
May the skill be with you- the book. In 2019 I started to think and test how we could create a coaching system/concept in self-defense training that would take everything out of the constraints-led approach. Last fall I started to write these ideas down and now the first edition of "May the Skill be With You- How to accelerate skill acquisition in self-defense" will be released in few weeks. If you want it fresh out of the print, just send me a message and I'll add you to the list. Will be available also in e-book format in Amazon shortly. Later on also in a online-course format👊
Mean while, If you'd like to get your training going, check out www.kravmagacoach.com for both personal coaching and AI-powered self-training platform.
May the skill be with you!
Krav Maga 5th Dan
Krav Maga Finland, The Finnish Krav Maga Federation