Training vs Conditioning

On this Easter Sunday, I wanted to take a break from the political firehose we drink from on a daily basis and offer a perspective regarding training, and how we can do it everyday in our lives. To me, proper training is an investment in yourself. I’ve spent the last 25 years in law enforcement, and during my time, the majority of it I’ve spent training in weapons and tactics along with hand to hand combat. I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from the likes of Jack Nevils, Johnny Lee Smith, Paul Howe, Daryl Holland and Alan Brosnan to name a few. Even if you aren’t able to travel and train, how you approach your personal training journey is very important. What I’ve learned from who I consider to be some of the world’s best, is the importance of understanding the difference between training and conditioning.

In my opinion, training is simply absorbing information, which we do on a daily basis. It might be a class at work or attending a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class a few times per week. Just because we have trained on something, doesn’t mean it will be a conditioned response and be there when we need it. Conditioning is fully comprehending what we have trained on, believing in it, and repeating it enough so it’s engrained in our memories. In the gym, we often tell people over and over to not drop their hands while sparring. If they don’t comprehend the importance of keeping their hands up, and they haven’t practiced it enough, when they are in the cage fighting, they will drop their hands again and again.

When I’m teaching women’s defensive tactics, I try to approach training in a way to engrain a philosophy in such a way it becomes a conditioned response much more quickly. I do this by using what I consider to be catchy phrases that represent a response. I often repeat the phrase, “Be The Squirrel.” I then tell them to imagine the biggest man they know walking into a park, and him picking up a squirrel. Despite the size difference, how long do you think he would be able to hold onto said squirrel? It’s important to understanding that size and strength do matter, but it doesn’t guarantee the outcome. With the right mindset, technique and leverage, you can be triumphant.

To apply this in your personal life, link actions to something that’s memorable and make sure to get repetitions, even a couple per day will make a difference. For instance, I think of the phrase “Turtle Up” which simply means shrug your shoulders, tuck your chin and bring your forearms in if you ever start to fall, which has helped me a time or two. If you conceal carry, each morning practice presenting your weapon from concealment three times, and as your clear your garment, make sure to take a step, preferably in the direction of an X. Meaning if you represent the center of the X, you move at an angle towards your front or back during your weapon presentation. Before you know it, you have hundreds of reps, and you have become smoother and faster with your concealed presentation.

Simple things to increase comprehension and a couple of reps each day won’t take up much time, and it can make a huge difference if/when you are tested in real life. Lastly, think of small increments of daily training as homework. In school, if you do your homework when it comes time for your final exam, you are ready and you perform well. In life we never know when/if our final exam will come, and when it does, it’s not a letter grade that’s at stake, it could be life or death so make sure to take a little time each day to do your homework. I hope I’ve been able to provide you a little insight on an approach to training. Don’t forget to take a little time each day to invest in yourself and have an enjoyable day with your loved ones.

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