There’s only one way to train


There’s only one way to train — HARD.

If you think going slow means easy, soft, light and painless, you’re dead wrong. Slow means correct — spot-on targeting, constantly driving your body weight through his structure to buckle it, full follow-through. When it’s done right it’s implacable, methodically cruel, painful, and, yes, even bruising. As it should be.

There’s a huge difference between pain and injury. Pain hurts, and then it’s gone — injury is lingering and long-lasting. Pain tells you that what’s happening would be truly terrible at full-speed, it reminds you what you’re here for. If you know what to do with it, pain can help you focus your efforts and fan the flames of your intent. Injury simply removes you from training and teaches nothing you didn’t already know.

If I hit the mats for a painless hour and walk off not feeling like I’ve been in a fight — not a mark on me the next day — I might as well of gone to a Jazzercise class instead. Really. I hit the mats to feel it, not play at it or pretend. I carry with me for the next couple of days the badges of honor that show I trained hard for violence — bruises, scratches, the marks that training knives leave on the body. The best are the most accurate and controlled, like dime-sized contusions precisely over the heart target.

This is not limping the next day. Or a nagging ache that never leaves your shoulder. If it impacts your ability to train after a day of rest, it was too much — that’s an injury, no matter how small. Pick up enough of those and pretty soon you can’t train at all.

As we’re fond of saying, “Anybody can take a punch. No one can take injury.”

I’m not telling you to ‘beat the crap’ out of each other. I’m telling you to get it right, every time — on your turn, you take exactly what you want. Your reaction partner doesn’t get to pick what happens, or how it goes down. He or she just gets to react. And you should expect no less when it’s not your turn. In fact, you want to demand it. Otherwise your parnter is slacking off and playing at it. Laxity is a sure sign of not taking it seriously. Or of a potentially deadly misunderstanding of what we’re up to here.

Precision is about control. Control means everything is tight, focused, and right at the edge without tumbling over. I want my partner to have total control over what I’m doing and where I’m going at all times during his turn — so I don’t get dumped on my head, thrown haphazardly onto one shoulder, or get something broken because he held it loosely and went for the target with sloppy technique.

When he gets it right it’s going to hurt — even going slow he’s going to put one bony square inch of him through one soft & squishy square inch of me with immovable structure behind it, meaning my rib cage will bounce off his elbow, and not the other way around. It should feel like I ran into a steel knob at the top of a concrete-filled post. I’ll save myself from true injury by reacting, but only just.

I’m going to do the same to him on my turn because anything less is screwing around, and sloppy gets you killed out there. I must practice with total precision and control so I can drive that head anywhere — straight into the concrete or tucked under for a roll as I will. I’ll tuck it one the mats, exactly, and I’ll pile-drive it outside, precisely. Getting exactly what I want instead of hoping for the best. When done right in practice, it’s gonna hurt. Just not permanently.

They say that pain is a great teacher, and I know this for a fact; I seek nothing but instruction every time I hit the mats. I’ve learned that what we do works, I’ve learned that pain can’t stop me, and I’ve learned to use it to focus my intent.

The trick is to get hungry for it… in lieu of that, there’s always Jazzercise.


Tim Larkin

Self-Protection Expert & Founder of Target Focus Training
Author of When Violence Is The Answer

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