By: Jefferson P. Webb
While it is very appealing and actually quite practical when attempting to attract new members into your martial arts school or club to have a nice indoor training facility, there is much to be said for conducting the bulk of your training outdoors.
For years now my adult students and I have conducted our entire training schedules outdoors and in the elements. The importance of such training was once again brought to mind at last weekend’s Saturday training session when the wind chill factor for us was 7 degrees Fahrenheit. To some of you perhaps that is not terribly cold, but in Texas that’s on the cold side. Your body is naturally effected in various ways depending on the temperature of the environment in which you find yourself. In a dedicated martial arts school where we train to defend ourselves and those we love, we know that we need to be familiar with as many different environmental conditions as possible in which we may be faced with a threat to our safety. Here is where we call to mind the old saying, “Train like you fight, fight like you train.”
There are many people of whom have been involved in a physical threat situation within the confines of their home, office, or another indoors, controlled environment where the temperature is a nice 70 degrees Fahrenheit. But many times people have also been assaulted and faced with the threat of assault in outdoor scenarios. By training outdoors in our drills an in freestyle sparing, we have experienced what ice and snow does to the traction for our feet/footwork. We have experienced what mud and roughly ankle-deep water does to our footing. We know what the rain does to our grip, or what the frigid temperatures does to our grip because of a loss of dexterity in our fingers. We have trained in the three-digit temperatures of Texas in July and August and have become very familiar in what it is like to face a threat in very hot and dry conditions. All of this is done with one on one, and multiple opponents verses one person scenarios. Being experienced in multiple threat situations is another vital part of training like you fight, so that if you do find yourself faced with a multiple attacker situation, you do not find yourself mentally overwhelmed, thus leading to being swiftly physically overwhelmed. You will know much better what to do. You will fight much in the way that you have trained.
Not only do we teach adults, but we also have children’s classes. We do train them indoors because of their age. Exposure to the elements can be much more harmful to them and like any responsible martial arts school that cares about its students and instructors, safety come before anything else. And without a doubt, I can say that I am sure that if my adult classes were held indoors in a comfortable 70-75 degree training hall with padded mat floors we would have many more students than what we do in our adult classes. But, the adults that we have in our adult classes are well versed in a variant of environmental situations in which they may have to defend themselves, and each one of them will tell you that they are better off for having trained the way that they have trained.
Do not limit yourselves as martial artists. Experience everything that you can possibly experience in your training and do it as near as can possibly be done to the various situations in which you may find yourself faced with a threat. Train like you fight, and you will fight like you have trained.