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Old 05-25-2008, 08:41 PM   #1
Kevin Leavitt
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Dojo: Team Combat USA
Location: Olympia, Washington
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 4,376
Military Training Methodologies

Thought I'd start a new thread so as not to hijack Mary's thread any further.

Matthew Gano wrote:

You probably explained this in a prior discussion, but I was curious about what it is you think might be confusing or otherwise detrimental to a soldier. Referring to your remarks about institutional and personal aims, I can understand how a lot of the Aikido componants might not fit very well: some reishiki could potentially waste time and I understand how trying to not harm an attacker could get you killed in a firefight, but it seems to me the physical qualities of Aikido (aikijutsu, essentially), as well as many of the concepts would be pretty useful.
Relaxation in particular seems invaluable. I'm not a soldier so I don't want to sound presumptuous; please forgive me if I do, I know these are just an outsider's take. When I think of a tense soldier I think of a fear-based, rigid mindset. When i think of a relaxed soldier I think of a fearless, flexible mindset. Obviously these are merely my own perceptions, but I'm curious about how you would characterize the two.
Take care,
It is not that it is not useful to train relaxation skills. I'd recommend reading "On Killing" by Grossman, and also "In Search of the Warrior Spirit" by Strozzi-Heckler for two good examples of dealing with the pyschological and cultural mindset of the military, especially as it applies to Soldiers.

Anyway, it has more to do with methodology than with the concept. That is, how you train. If you want to be good at shooting relaxed in a stressful environment then you train shooting in a stressful environment, not wearing a Gi in a dojo practicing aikido.

My OCS candidates at the beginning of every class used to ask me how they could improve their pushups, well the answer I always gave them was more pushups.

Sure the physical qualities that we train in aikido are very relevant and I find my training to be personally helpful in my daily life. I also feel I have benefited in many ways from my training.

It is also the case with many other soldiers as well. Personally I feel that others too could benefit from the "soft" lessons that aikido has to offer.

However, you are dealing with an institution, a successful one, that has been evolving since the early colonial days.

So, how long does it take you to realize the "soft" or "internal" benefits of aikido? 2 months? 2 Years, 10 Years? 20?

How do you sustain such a practice with an instituion that has to take 18 year olds and put them in the heat of battle within a few short months?

What do you spend your time doing with them? teaching them aikido, or teaching them how to move into the heat of battle and react properly, even when scared?

How do you best train them?

The answer is through Stress Induction models.

BJJ is a good example martially of a stress induciton methdology. You can take a novice, put him in a program, and have him fairly martially proficient in a realitively short period of time. Sure, at the upper levels, it requires and you benefit from the same level of finese and relaxation of internal arts.

BJJ works on a stress induction model that more or less follows the philosophy of "train as you fight". Which is why you see it being so successful up front.

There is a certain pyschology you try to induce or to exploit in a warrior. Stress induction models build this.

It isn't for everyone. It ain't about fairness or being equal. It is about forging mental toughness. There are many that wash out of training or quit because it is not for them. Better to have it happen in training than in war.

those that "graduate" or become soldiers become so because they have the values and mindset that the Army is looking for.

The stress induction model helps build confidence, skills, and habits. In turn this helps reduce fear and encourage relaxation which flows out of the confidence, skills, and habits.

Being able to put a bullet on target in a CQB environment requires a great deal of conditioning and training. It starts in basic training with having a drill sgt yell at you and inducing stress. You go to a rifle range and learn how to put well aimed shots on targets at 300 M. Which requires learning how to control breathing and is taught.

You then spend time perfecting your shooting crouch and posture and doing dime drills and reflexive fire training, which by the way requires many of the same attributes you might find in suburi.

You do it over and over and over again, developing habits and muscle memory.

You then do it from the inside your vehicle, in buildings, and etc.

Think of doing a thousand suburi cuts over and over again. After a while you either learn to relax...or you get very tired!

Same with soldiering. You learn soldiering by doing soldiering. Train as you fight.

So, what is left?

What each individual finds is important mentally and spiritually for their own well being and state of mind.

For me, martial arts through the Modern Army Combatives Program, BJJ, and Aikido keep me physically, mentally, and spiritually "in shape".

Others have other things that they do. Some might play rugby, soccer, attend church, some choose to supress themselves emotionally and detach from the situation (denial, which is not a good thing).

Anyway you have to separate the institution from the personal when you start talking soldiering. It is not that aikido is not beneficial, it is simply a different methodology that is not as effective at training the same things we train in soldiering.

Sorry for the long post, I hope this helps explain it some.

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