In Part One we discussed just the context of the research that’s been carried out in breakaway in the journal articles and so on. Part two we started to introduce some of the ideas of sports science to the whole issue of stress and how it affects motor performance. In part three I talked a little bit more about some of the more detailed areas about the instinctive protection and how we can speed up and improve the assimilation of the skills for the learner. Here we are in part four and I’m going to talk a little bit more this time now about training design in terms of how a trainer should approach structuring the the training so that the learners can actually learn breakaway techniques.
So, when we look at the sports science we can see that progressive intensity, and learning opportunities, and learning environments that most closely approximate the target skill environment and the target skill context, are the best learning opportunities that we can give our learners. So, when we can look at the physical environment, the emotional and psychological environment in which these breakaway techniques will be used that is most likely going to generate the better training result and the best performance ultimately in our learners.
So, we’ve got to look at the specific situations and scenarios whether the subject might be for example standing, or seated, or on a bed, or connected to some device, medical device or on the top deck of a bus, or any number of other scenarios. And the more we can include those contextual cues and those environmental factors the more our learners are going to engage with the learning and actually take robust breakaway techniques away from it. So, as much as possible at Dynamis we try to do scenario specific learning and we also try to include things like intensity, collisions and stress, which are going to be present in the real world when someone is called upon to put their breakaway techniques to use.
So, walking through the breakaway techniques is one level of training but if you have time it’s always going to be best to increase the intensity of that training as well because repeating the exercises in a walk through methodology alone, that will not lead to the best acquisition of skill. In fact, the best acquisition of skill comes through something that’s been termed desirable difficulties being introduced into the practice. So, you create problems which need to be solved. You increase the intensity of the scenario. You run it up closer and closer to real speed. Now that takes quite a lot of skill on behalf of the trainer and of course because it increases risk quite significantly it needs to be managed quite carefully but the science would suggest that it produces the most effective learning.
What all of that tends to do for our learners is it inoculates them against the stress of a real confrontation. And the more intensity we can do in training the better our learners will be inoculated against the real stress or real confrontation. As I was listening to a talk by a really key police psychologist on use of force some years ago she said that the difference between the novice and the expert is the level of physiological and psychological arousal and activation that they experience in the real event. And so, what we’re trying to do in our training of course is take our novices and move them along the performance scale towards as close as we can get them to expert performance and part of that is we have to address physiology and we have to address psychology.
Stress Inoculation Training
So, stress inoculation is where we increase the person’s resistance by exposing them to a stimulus that’s strong enough to teach them coping strategies but without being so powerful that it overwhelms that individual or of course we don’t want to injure or damage them in any way, including psychologically. And Donald Meichenbaum has a process called stress inoculation training which he has used and I would recommend that any trainer who’s interested in better preparing their learners for these types of confrontation – go ahead and research Meichenbaum’s work.
Because ultimately our learners are people and they will be physically trying their best to take on the breakaway techniques that we’re showing them but ultimately their personality, their motivation, their imagery that they’re using will all affect their self confidence and their concentration on the goal when the chips are down so to speak and they’re under survival stress. So, we also need to address this. This is a final point of my 10 point framework for teaching breakaway skills effectively is that we have to look at the performer centric, the intrinsic factors which will affect performance. And it’s a really good idea for a trainer to work on this as much as they can.
So in summary then, across these four talks I’ve tried to show that a really good system of breakaway techniques training should really educate the person about survival stress, it will in terms of its tactical choices it will prioritize gross motor skills, big movements that use the large muscle groups in the body. We have to actually figure out what the real stimulus is that we’re trying to get the response from the performer for. So, we look at the day techs and the incident reports and make sure that we’re focusing on the right types of assault.
If you want your learners to respond with a good reaction time then you need to address movement pre cues to improve their stimulus identification. You want to have as natural a response as possible which means you need to explore startle reflex and instinctive protection behaviors. And then, somewhere through the training program you will need to stress inoculate them against the actual situations that they may face.
So, and then of course finally remember that there’s a person in there and you need to speak to that person and help them to be motivated to do all of the great breakaway techniques that you’re teaching them.
So, that’s our framework and that’s how we teach breakaway skills at Dynamis. I hope this series of four talks has been helpful for you. If any of it’s been particularly interesting then you can feel free to get in touch with us through our website or my email address is on there for you, even my direct mobile phone if you wish to give me a call. So, thanks for listening and look out for some more videos coming from us soon.
Dynamis Training is a leading provider of advice and effective in-person training courses in personal safety, self-protection and breakaway skills which are easily learned and which can be retained well over time. Because of our unique coaching methodology and the time and thought we have devoted to what YOUR staff need to know to be able to disengage effectively from a violent assault, this breakaway training is likely to be the most beneficial type of such training your staff could undergo.
Whether its officer safety, breakaway skills or deescalation you are looking for, Dynamis has a course which can be tailored for your specific environment, the context of your team’s encounters and the risks you need to address.
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