Updated: Feb 28, 2018
In CrossFit we train constantly varied, functional movement at high intensity. Man/Women fail at the margins of our experience, in CrossFit we vary the movement and training stimulus in our perpetual pursuit of General Physical Preparedness.
Given that most competitive fights only last three to five minutes, why is physical fitness important in a fight? ‘Real’ fights actually last only ten to fifteen seconds, and that is important to know because if you don’t you will not be able to understand how to fully analyse the confrontation. Real confrontations are sudden and violent. A person training with a sport mindset, treating it like a round in a mixed martial arts match my be overwhelmed by the sudden extreme violence of a close-quarter fight. Understanding the nuances of a sudden conflict, from timeline to psychodynamics, from pre-contact cues through to the collision moment will help with defining and designing a training program.
There is an inherent paradox between real world self-defense and strength and conditioning. Fitness as it is defined by CrossFit is quantifiable and measurable. Just because an athlete is in phenomenal physical shape and can spar multiple rounds doesn’t mean they can survive a violent attack on the street. By street fight, I mean a credible confrontation, one that you cannot avoid and in which your opponent is a predator.
Real fighting is clearly very different. There are numerous theoretical ideas but you can’t practise real fighting, the closest you can get is to simulate it.
Preparing for credible self-defense is a journey. We will explore this using a driving-trip metaphor as originally coined by the founder of the CrossFit Defense and S.P.E.A.R system, Tony Blauer. For this driving-trip you need a car, gasoline and you need a map. The car is your body, gasoline represent your energy, which could be your stamina, your endurance as well as an range of emotional cocktails that allow us to get through events. You also need a map which represents your strategy or your plan. Part of that plan would also include preparation which is analogous to ‘how do I prepare for the fight?’ If you are missing one of these components (car, gas, map), then the outcome is uncertain. Focus in preparation can’t be cosmetic, there is no best style or secret technique nor is it about strength or time or rounds. Its about the cumulative preparation beyond the ubiquitous mind/body/spirit, one of the formulas for training in the CrossFit Defense system.
If you have mindset and awareness then working intelligently on your fitness is crucial. The ability to be responsive and explosive is going to be dynamically influenced by your level of fitness and preparedness. ‘Going beyond where you have been before’ or embracing the uncomfortable helps focus your mind on a confrontation. It also ensures that your first time encounter - when you are least experienced and able - is as safe as possible, where the consequence of failure won’t mean loosing your life.
There is a strong link to the functional fitness and General Physical Preparedness found in CrossFit as a strength and conditioning program and that of preparing for a credible self-defense journey. The workouts that athletes grind and push through are similar to the ‘fight’. Although CrossFit can never replace time on the mat or sport-specific training and in this case self-defense preparation, CrossFit undoubtable gives athletes general physical preparedness (both emotionally, mentally and physiologically) that lend well to explosiveness and recovery in a sudden violent encounter. Put simply, in a fight it is critical to be able to explode and recover. The more often you can explode and the faster you can recover, the better your fitness is for fighting.
CrossFit’s combination of movements, intensity and ability to scale workouts accordingly make it an ideal strength-and-conditioning program. In CrossFit Defense, athletes forge links between the CrossFit fitness program and the body’s primal instincts for self-defense. Participants learn how CrossFit principles such as core-to-extremity movement translate to combat, and they learn how to use CrossFit movements and equipment to prepare to defend themselves.
For example a push-up is a cousin to a palm strike, and a box jump is from the same family of movement as a knee strike, so CrossFit athletes know many of the movements in some way, and many others are already hard-wired into the body. Conversely working a dynamic medicine sequence in CrossFit Defense, where participants do drills striking a moving target work many of the 10 General Physical Skills such as - Balance, Agility, Speed, Accuracy & Coordination, skills that have both a practical and tactical application to everyday life.
CrossFit teaches us that “the needs of Olympic athletes and our grandparents differ by degree not kind.” CrossFit Defense is similar in that the mindset and awareness methodologies of a SWAT officer and a stay-at-home mom differ by degree not kind. Both need fear-management skills appropriate to their arena. Both need to have a built-in understanding of what they’re fighting for—their directive. Both need to understand that the body already knows a lot about protecting itself and is going to do certain things in a dangerous situation, trained or not.
To quote Coach Blauer “CrossFit predisposes you to self-defense. Everything that CrossFit does—aside from the actual selfdefense techniques, the knees, the palm strikes—that is the foundation of self-defense.”
The key, as with any sport, is to balance CrossFit training for general physical preparedness with the demands of sport specific or in this case self-defense specific training.