Insights and Training Tips from Tactical Arts


How to Get the Most out of your Self Defense Training

How to Get the Most out of your Self Defense Training

How to Get the Most out of your Self Defense Training (in a short period of time)

Don’t mess around.  Your life depends on it.


Time is precious because we have so little of it.  Obligations of work, family and personal life all leave little time for training, but training is important.  Without it, your chances of prevailing in a violent attack are greatly diminished.  In addition to pushing your training up the priority list, you have to train efficiently.  It’s all about managing the time you have to train in order to get the most out of it.   After teaching for more than 20 years, I have seen that there are a few simple things students do to learn faster.  If you follow the advice below, you will avoid wasting your valuable time while also improving your ability to learn.


Train Consistently and Frequently


In order to make progress in your training, you need to be training on a regular basis.  If you often miss your classes or training sessions, you may be introducing discontinuities in your knowledge, gaps in your response set and impediments to your development.  When learning, you need to build on skills in a progressive manner.  Over time, your skills regress.  This is especially true for new skills. If you have not yet had a lot of repetition, the retention and refinement of those skills will diminish.   If there are large gaps of time between lessons and training sessions, you will need to spend more time reviewing to get back to where you left off and less time making forward progress. 


You need the last time you practiced to be recent.  Under stress, what is the most useful is often what you trained recently.  If you frequently practice the fundamental skills, then those skills will be more accessible when needed.  By training more frequently, you will reduce the amount of time that has passed since the last time you trained.  Tom Givens of Rangemaster expresses this in recommending that you dry fire your gun once a week.  If you are in a situation where you need to use your gun for self defense, then the last time you practiced it will be no more than a week ago.  This is much better than several months ago or last year, when you took a course.


It is better to do several short sessions on a frequent basis, than to do one marathon session every now and then.  Your mind needs time to process the things you learn and the skills you practice.  Your mind literally rebuilds connections that help you retain the benefits of your learning and practice.  This takes time and rest.  You will remember more. By giving your mind more bite size chunks, you are less likely to lose something.  By breaking up your training into multiple sessions, you will also have more opportunities to make refinements along the way.  You can focus more on each element that you practice because your mind will likely remain more observant and engaged during a shorter session than it would during the later hours of a longer session.


Keep a Training Journal


You can accelerate your learning curve by keeping a training journal.  Writing helps you review and think more deeply about your training.  It makes you recall and process what you have learned.  Athletes who journal are often more successful than those who do not.  This is because they can analyze their progress, record and review the feedback they receive from their coach, and reflect on improvements.  They can see what is working and what is not.  They can look for patterns that may help them improve their training and reduce injury.  Journaling can keep them motivated as they record their accomplishments.  Keeping a training journal has several benefits for athletes, and it will definitely make you more successful in any study you pursue.


In some cases, the process may be more valuable than the result.  Of course, you can make a list of techniques you learned and of concepts or principles, but of great value is the analysis you perform when translating your experience into writing.   You must make sense of the material in order to write it down in a coherent manner.  This will not only help you remember the material better, but also understand it better.  


Journaling helps you save time when you are actually training.  The process will help you identify what is significant and allot the right amount of training for each element.  It allows you to study your in more detail because you have written records to reflect on.  Journaling allows you to identify weaknesses and areas that need improvement.  It will also help you understand your strengths.  With this understanding, you can better plan your practice to be more effective and more focused on just what you need.  You can start your practice sessions with a plan.  After multiple entries, you can track your progress over time and refine your approach to training.


Practice at Home


In addition to practicing in class, you also need to practice at home if you want to develop quickly.  In order to improve a physical skill, you need to repeat the movements involved in order to develop the proper coordination and muscle memory.  After you have been taught by an instructor, and received feedback, go home and practice more.  The more you do at home, the faster your learning will go when you are in class.  Rather than needing a lot of repetition in class, you will be ready to take the next step.  Focus on basics and whatever you feel comfortable doing without feedback from your instructor.


Practice with attention to get the most out of your time.  Repeat the movement you are practicing while trying to improve it each time.  Do numerous repetitions in a row so you have the opportunity to make refinements.  If you don’t pay attention, you are wasting an opportunity to make real improvements.  Repetition alone is not the answer, and sloppy mechanics will not improve unless you are actively trying to improve them with observation and adjustments.




By consistently and frequently training, keeping a journal of your training, and practicing at home between classes, you will advance your skills faster.  When you improve the way you approach learning, you will get more out of your classes and training sessions in a shorter period of time.  We all have life events and dips in motivation that eventually interrupt our training schedules.  Learn to accept that and just return to your training when you are ready.  If you read through your journal, you are likely to get excited and be ready to train again. 


If you are interested in self-defense training, consider joining the Tactical Arts Academy Integrated Self Defense Program.  We can help you develop effective self defense skills in a short period of time and train in a way that will make you safer and more capable.


Click the button below to learn more about the program and sign up for a free visit.  You’ll learn more about Tactical Arts, you’ll have the opportunity to watch our classes in action, and you’ll discover if our training is right for you.




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