"Lean, mean, hostile, mobile, agile," as the Army told us and services still do is some form or another of advice. “The infantry learns to love the ground!" is another old military expression. After being on the receiving end of gunfire and lobbed explosives, a ducking troop almost instinctively sees where he can find the best cover. If there is none? He even penetrates the ground with his entrenching tools, or even his fingers will dig down deep, if that is all he has.
Then as he walks across the next potential hot zone, he reflexively studies the very lay of the land ahead. He doesn't actually "love" the ground in the usual sense. Not really infatuated with it. He just studies it now knowing that even the slightest, natural incline, decline, growth or man-made structure might save his life if ambushed. He also sees where the enemy might be from common sense, training and experience. Like the Infantryman who must learn to love the land, close quarter combat fighters with or without weapons, must learn to see and feel the ground they will do battle on and have the savvy, agility and strength to overcome the variables of weather, surface and space.
Many think that fighting footwork comes just from the boxing ring, relying on numerous movements like the shuffle-step and the rocker and so forth. All martial arts have some pattern laid out on the floor upon which to dart back and forth upon. I prefer to use the clock as a format for this "ring" part. Nobody forgets the clock.
But, true consummate trainees also learn to cover air, water and land. Exclusive of parachuting and scuba, for any citizen, enforcement officer or soldier, covering land is done four very generic ways - by crawling, walking, running and leaping, in around, under and over:
1: urban terrain
2: suburban terrain
3: rural terrain (desert, forests, jungle, mountains, etc.)
(I've never understood the obsession with "urban this-or-that fighting." It is but
one third of the problem areas.)
And study these areas for what reasons? Three, really:
1: cover or concealment (yours or his)
3: pursuit - chase to catch and, or kill
These terrains are defined as the outsides and insides of the vast variety of man-made buildings and structures, and in populated, over/under-populated and unpopulated areas. And all this is traversed in differing kinds of weather and lighting.
Warriors traverse terrain. Nothing replaces running regularly to accomplish this goal. It builds wind, endurance and spirit. Many of my power lifting, more musclebound friends denigrate running, constantly hunting for anti-running articles and news it seems, but I think because they fear a dreaded loss of even an once of precious muscle? The true balance is performance AND / WITH muscle. Covering ground with agility and speed is important for any fighter.
Experts will say that a regular regimen of jogging and wind sprints are a great combination. Treadmills are nice, but I believe you must run outdoors, and in all kinds of weather, to maximize your potential. Even as I get older and things are breaking down and I use the indoor treadmill more and more, I still believe in this "running in the real world," for active duty personnel and citizens. And of course, eventually, in the training spirit, motto and principle of "reducing the abstract," you must exercise in the very environments of your mission. Customized obstacle courses help hone this goal. Yup, that why the military, police and fire use them. And perhaps the subtle reason why citizens gravitate toward these "Tough Mudder" style races.
Keith Jennings goes airborne at a Spartan Race
Combatives movement is an athletic endeavor. Your survival may hinge upon your ability to perform combat footwork. The overall foundation for broad, combat footwork comes from 4 main sources:
1: Walking and running footwork
2: Sports footwork (boxing, kickboxing, and all other common sports)
3: Obstacle course footwork
4: Ground fighting maneuvers and positioning
And we must add weapons into the topic. There are two categories:
1: "While-carrying" just means "carrying" weapons - holsters, slung long guns, etc.
2: "While-holding" just means holding weapons in your hands and arms
Your overall footwork development includes:
1: Proper foot wear, socks and foot care
3: Wind sprints
4: Torso, arm and leg strength training for those "climbing" and "leaping" times
5: Footwork floor patterns
6: Sport-related footwork practice, such as found in boxing and kickboxing
7: Obstacle courses
8: Ground work (the basic ground moves of topside, bottom-side and side-by-side)
9: All the above done empty-handed and also “while-holding” and "while-carrying" of:
- edged weapons
- impact weapons
Being in better shape will also help you control your heart rate and related, negative, adrenaline problems. Fortune favors the prepared, and agility and speed are vital steps. Fighting footwork itself can be a lot like walking and running, and certainly sports movements like basketball, football, soccer and rugby. Even tennis workouts can improve your footwork. But serious dedicated training must also include movement when carrying weapons.
You prepare for this by knowing your turf and answering the who, what, where, when and how of your travels.
- Who? Who will you be chasing? Fittest of the fit? Not? In between?
- What? What "grounds" will you be traversing?
- Where? Where will this be? Your work area? You travel area? Where?
- When? When is your chase? Your run? Weather? Night time?
- How? How will you handle this specific turf?
- Why? Why are you even running to or from trouble or,
why are you involved and staying in this ground fight?
I don't think you have to become a Parkour expert - many of us can't - to do work as a survivalist, a soldier/Marine or a cop. Although that would be fine, but even the Parkourist rehearses his or her very specific moves and designed jumps with very specific objects adn equipment. The sport declares that "Parkour includes running, climbing, swinging, vaulting, jumping, rolling, quadrupedal movement, and other movements as deemed most suitable for the situation."
Okay then! It's a hand, stick, knife, gun world, in standing/moving, kneeling/sitting and ground problems stuffed inside the crime-fighting, war-fighting mess. Get and be as fast and agile as you can while carrying and holding the tools you have and need.
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