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5 Ways to Ruin Your Self-Defense Training, Part 3
The Flaw of Training with Protective Equipment
“The sensation of body unity becomes obvious only to yourself or the person you are hitting. At this point, the energy is truly internal, and you may seem to hardly move at all. This occurs, for example, when some part of your body (like an elbow) is in contact with your opponent’s trunk. Using dropping energy and body unity, you can achieve (with apologies to Bruce Lee’s one-inch punch), a no-inch punch, that can either send your attacker flying or cause internal damage.” –From the book Attack Proof: The Ultimate Guide to Personal Protection
In this section, I will elaborate on the detrimental effects of wearing protective equipment while training for self defense purposes. In addition, I will speak on the Attack Proof demos and explain why the kicks in modified Native American Ground fighting are dramatically different from what you see in competition. The discussion on kicks is somewhat of a counterpoint to this level in the sense that you actually should wear protective equipment if it is indeed a part of your normal activities.
Training with protective equipment such as gloves, headgear, flack jackets, knee pads, shin guards, chest protectors or any other protective devices destroy the ability to develop sensitivity and looseness. If you wear protective equipment, you will never have the ability to properly counterbalance or completely yield your root in response to pressure. This especially holds true in clinching range where hand-eye coordination is entirely too slow.
At times, observing or even practicing the training of Guided Chaos (KCD) can easily lead one to believe that it isn’t a fighting system, but some sort of meditative, abstract and flowing way of movement akin to a non-combative form of Tai Chi. Nothing could be further from the truth, as there is always a method to what appears as madness.
When you have to take a person out for real, you have to maintain the process of penetrating their center and taking their balance so that they won’t have the ability to get back into the fight. If you take a person’s balance, they absolutely can’t strike with any real power because the body’s proprioceptive system will be preoccupied with regaining its own equilibrium.
If You Can’t Learn To Feel, You Can’t learn To Fight
With equipment you once again inhibit your ability to maintain this process because you can’t differentiate between long and short power, which as described in the quote at the beginning of this section is the difference between launching someone away from you or dropping them relatively where they stand. This gives you the ability to eventually fight and control people without killing them or engaging in entanglement. Through many hours of Contact Flow (A critical free-form energy drill in KCD), you begin to develop a subconscious feel for a person’s maximum looseness points before their skeletons lock and your strikes begin creating compression force and internal damage against their bones and organs.
The only way to prevent damage or being controlled is by either yielding faster than this happens or stepping to a new root point. This is all about feeling different people’s density and motion because everyone moves differently, and to the uninitiated has to be experienced to be fully appreciated. For all the reasons stated, it is paramount that in Contact Flow you always move at relatively the same speed as your training partner. That way, as you progressively move faster and faster, your timing in performing these movements will always be maximally efficient.
Protective Equipment Won’t Protect You
The other problem, aside from the fact that equipment inhibits sensitivity development is that going full contact with your training partner, even if a person has on armor, will not stop them from withstanding extraordinary injury if the KCD Dropping power is utilized. That being the case, it’s completely detrimental to wear it.
As explained by Guided Chaos founder John Perkins in his newsletter #15:
In KCD the seeming sloppy strikes are thrown with a full connection of the body all the way down to the feet with full dropping force. This is why we have a great deal of trouble practicing on each other with power even when wearing fist helmets with neck braces or professional football helmets. We must pull the drop slap strikes on the human targets and mix the attacks with strikes to moving dummy targets. At full speed they can get a bit dicey. In most cases, only the more developed students can be relied upon not to accidentally strike full power into the helmet of the armored fighters. The boxer’s block, with the palm toward the face and only an inch away, was only meant to be used with big soft boxing gloves, which act as cushions. Without the gloves, your own hands would only serve to hit you in the head as the opponent’s punch comes barreling through. -Attack Proof
Aside from that, what purpose does it serve you to learn how to strike while your hands are protected by gloves, only to condition your mind so that in a real fight, positioning your hands the same way will likely cause you to break your own bones?
Unless you’re attacked in the shower or on the beach, you’ll never need to kick barefoot. Wearing sturdy shoes changes the dynamics of your kicks and effectively puts a hammer at the end of your feet. You should always practice with them on. -Attack Proof
Sport Fighting Vs. Survival Fighting On The Ground
In competition, when one fighter is on the ground and the other is standing, the fighter on the ground will often go into a position known as the open guard as opposed to the closed or half guard. The open guard is basically any position where a standing opponent is in front of your legs in some fashion.
The closed guard is when the bottom man has his legs wrapped around the top man’s waist. The half guard is when the bottom man has his legs wrapped around one of the top man’s legs, usually as a result of losing control of the full guard position. For the purposes of this section, we will only be dealing with the open guard.
As utilized in competition, the open guard is a defensive posture intended to keep the standing attacker from either passing the legs to get the mount or raining down punches in the form of what is referred to as “ground and pound”. Ground and pound has been done both standing as well as from the mount position. The defensive idea of the open guard is to put your feet on the attacker’s hip, or sometimes shoulder, arm or chest to push him back. Occasionally, it is used in a striking manner as well.
From our standpoint, what they do is morally and legally sound for competitive fighting as we feel anything more would be excessive and possibly grounds for imprisonment. We only have a problem when these practices are espoused as viable self defense methods. Understand something, we are only concerned with survival fighting and are not playing games because what we do is not for sport. We are not the “jump in the ring and man up mano y mano” guys. We are the people that are concerned with protecting ourselves on the way to the car, in the shopping mall or after work if something unfortunately goes wrong.
Here’s the problem. If you get into a serious fight and you hit the ground while your opponent is still standing, I can assure you that unless you are extremely lucky and not facing a determined attacker, the standing attacker will not punch you or try to pass your guard to get into the mount position. If you read police reports of physical assaults that have occurred here in Chicago, I’m pretty certain that you would find out more people have been hospitalized or killed by being viciously stomped than any other method of hand to hand fighting out there, trained tactics or not.
He or they will attempt to stomp you into oblivion. Guided Chaos founder John Perkins once recommended watching the movie Menace to Society. The reason was because at the end of the movie there was a fight scene that displayed exactly what happens when you hit the ground and you’re facing a determined attacker.
Though perfectly suitable for the ring, the open guard methodology can potentially get you disfigured or killed on the street for several reasons. It is employed by the prone fighter in a defensive nature in which the fighter doesn’t move his sphere as his root is usually immobilized. Equally as detrimental, the prone attacker usually doesn’t wait long enough to allow the standing attacker to enter in a manner where he is so close that he can utilize the power of his legs while on the ground. Therefore, often times out of fear of getting mounted or punched, he’ll overextend beyond his sphere. In addition to being barefooted, the kicks, even if not intended to simply push, are generally weak because they lose the power of their muscles, tendons, ligaments and momentum as their legs have already been fully extended.
No one’s arm strength should be able to match your leg strength. Nevertheless, in grappling you see leg locks and ankle control methods working where people sidestep each other’s legs to attain a so-called dominant position referred to as side control. This is only occurring because they are cooperating by not moving with real intent. To be fair however, on rare occasion some competitive fighters have knocked their attackers out with heel kicks from the ground, but usually it doesn’t happen because of the lack of intent to kill! They are usually trying to get the attacker away from them or set them up for some type of sweep or submission. A lot of times it works, at least in competition.
On the street, if you’re on the ground you had better utilize all the power you have from all angles and most importantly maintain a mobile root. For an idea of how you need to move, look at Demo #8: Ground fighting with a Knife on the Attack Proof website. To the initiated this is obvious, but in reality you will need to literally kick with every square ounce of your might in an unrestrained manner as Lt. Col Al is holding back tremendously for the obvious purpose of not severely injuring the training partners.
How Real Can You Get?
Although the overall response to the demos on the site was overwhelmingly positive, I’ve spoken with several skeptics who seemed to not realize that the video clips were not real or were offended at the integrity of the attacks as they meticulously dissected every detail. In a lot of cases, I could see where they were coming from but the truth of the matter is that they simply don’t understand how dangerous it is to do demos in that manner because they can’t feel or see the power that is being generated. Although it is blatantly stated that the KCD strikes were pulled, a skeptical mind would likely ignore that and focus on several things which I’ll explain here.
1. It appears that the strikes are merely slaps for several reasons. One is that they are open handed, thus creating an optical illusion. Also, when you develop looseness, at a highly refined level it will almost appear at times to the uninitiated that you lack power unless they are on the receiving end. Even though full body unity is being utilized by Al, John and Mike, they are purposely either not penetrating at all, or purposely not going beyond the limits of the attacker’s looseness as a way to avoid injury. Again, all kicks and strikes were pulled.
2. As the grappler is shooting, there appears to be a lag time in his movements. Sorry, this is strictly because he knows if he comes in at full speed and gets hit, the price paid will not be worth any demo in the world. I don’t think this was a conscious effort, it was actually his body’s recognition that it was more important to protect itself. I can tell you from first hand experience that it feels almost like you are hitting a brick wall when someone is properly rooted. The faster you run into the wall, the greater the injury. However, the integrity of the shoot doesn’t matter and that’s something I’ll deal with in Part 5.
3. The knife demos are not how we actually move with a knife, it was only a demo to show what happens when a determined, even if untrained, attacker goes berserk with a knife. Personally, I agree with the assessment that it would have been far more effective to pull a concealed knife after the grappler attacked, not before hand. But then, who attacks a person with a knife unarmed?
4. The standing kicker appears to be off balance. In reality, he is actually using the walls to balance himself in the same fashion discussed by John Perkins in Newsletter #27. Just as well, Dropping Energy is utilized either vertically or while moving forward. Without any real contact with a certified KCD instructor who has the control to move with you at high speeds and give you a feel for the system without injury, the only way you can truly appreciate the power is by lying on the ground and kicking an inhuman object like a lying (supine) heavy bag with all of your might. In a literal sense, when you adapt an “attack the attacker” philosophy and move with full body unity, using centrifugal force at reflexive speed, the power of your legs is the equivalent of a set of swinging sledgehammers with the intent to incapacitate and bust bones.
John Perkins speaks about how he kicked a guy’s nose off of his face with his police shoes as the guy attempted to wrestle him. In light of the power you can generate with your legs, the way I see it, the guy was extremely lucky because if John didn’t miss he would’ve easily broken the guy’s neck.
There’s no setting up in a real fight, no stance. When people are trying to kill you, not pin you, score on you, or get you to tap out, everything changes and anything goes–that’s the rule. You start in chaos and end in chaos. In sport fighting, only the most gifted athletes can make the intentionally restricted techniques and rules work for them and make them champions.
Self-defense: For the Young Only?
Do champions retire because they can no longer fight? Absolutely not. They retire because they can no longer compete in their sport. If attacked in a 5 second fight for their lives, where age and optimum conditioning are no longer required to score points, an old fighter has as good or better chance of coming out alive as a young athlete at his peak. In fact, their knowledge is still growing and the parameters of survival make what conditioning remains even more lethal.
This is why practitioners of internal arts such as Tai chi, Bagua and Guided Chaos can actually improve with age, because the essential principles of survival combat methodologies rely mostly on mechanics and sensitivity and little on external gross muscular condition. This is also why internal art masters may often maintain a higher functioning level of health into old age as compared to those whose systems require extraordinary athletic prowess to perform adequately.
To be continued… Next– Part 4: The Fatal Flaw of Disregarding Vital Targets
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