How to simulate realistic self-defense scenarios

Self-defense simulations

The most important things we must understand about self-defense simulations is that:

Why (sometimes) does it make sense, to try to stage more “concrete” situations?

If constructed correctly, they allow us to gain practice, in the most contextual possible way, with the application of our self-defense methods (read Personal defense: the S.A.F.E. method):

  • As sparring helps to learn how to fight, in the same way, the simulations help to enter the right tactical mentality
  • We can start to learn to recognize the types of situations (types of attackers, level of danger, common problems, etc.)

How to design simulations really useful for self-defense learning

Here we can find a list of tips and ideas about how to make the scenarios as much as possible realistic and functional:

The type of simulations

  • Let’s avoid too outdated simulations – The way of attacking varies over time and space; it is completely useless to repropose as realistic didactical attacks coming, for example, from feudal Japan (originally executed with bulky armor)
  • Let’s avoid too imaginative situations – Basing our simulations on totally unreal situations (or forcibly connected to our fighting style) is not only useless but can even become counterproductive (in a real situation we risk finding ourselves unable to fill serious gaps)
  • Let’s focus on our time and space of action – It would also be more useful to focus our practice (first of all) on weapons, attacks and situations contextual to the places in which we live and / or frequent; once we have covered the base, we can certainly expand our knowledge (doing more complex things allows us to perform the simpler ones more easily) but it is unreasonable to learn to disarm an Mk47 when we are not even able to handle a shove
  • Where to find inspiration – Today the web offers us endless videos of real situations (from surveillance cameras, smartphones, etc.); starting from the ones closest to our area of action it is possible to achieve much more contextual and practical results

How to plan a self-defense simulation

  • Let’s take care of the details – It is not a matter of searching a video on a tablet and start to play; we have to write down the key point and prepare who will play the role of the victims and aggressors
  • Let’s find a suitable place – With a precise idea of safety and compliance with the laws, let’s look for environments that are as close as possible to those we found in the videos we have chosen; let’s also try to replicate the obstacles and elements present in the original scenario
  • Let’s recreate the situation – Let’s wear clothes (at least vaguely) corresponding to those that the simulation participants would wear in the same context and let’s try to imagine the mood, the plan, the intentions of each of the original “characters” (in this regard it may be useful to read How to use emotions in workout and combat but let’s do not exaggerate with the “identification”)

How to make the scenario more realistic

  • Let’s create 2 teams – Before starting, we must discuss (even with the help of the instructor) how far the participants agree to arrive, then we have to create 2 teams; team A should prepare the simulation to be proposed to team B and vice-versa (the roles of victims and aggressors become mutual)
  • The planning – Team A should not know anything about the simulation chosen by team B and vice-versa (everything should, however, be supervised by an instructor and maintained in the field of reasonable, no one should be put in a position to suffer things that he does not accept)
  • Do not warn the participants about the simulation (until the same day) – Let’s warn in advance that we intend to perform this simulation but (where possible and within the limits of reason) without giving a specific date (in any case not outside the agreed times)
  • Let’s remember to adjust the difficulty – Depending on the level of the participants we can opt for the implementation of more or less complex elements and scenarios; if on the one hand, it is true that the street has no pity for anyone, it is also true that it is completely useless to let the ones who do not stand a walk on the hill, to climb the Everest bare hands
  • Let’s remember to remain within limits acceptable for all – When someone is in difficulty it is necessary to immediately stop the simulation, it is also necessary to take care of all aspects related to safety and respect for the people involved (no real weapons, actions that really harm the physical integrity and / or dignity of the participants outside the agreed limits)

A note by Master Kongling – Having said that it seems like a huge job but in reality, most self-defense situations (which are worth studying) usually last a few minutes and take place in extremely easy to replicate environments.

In the next article of this series, we will describe a few examples of simulations to replicate.

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Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • What makes a self-defense simulation effective in your opinion?

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