The Newness Factor

Thumb down and forward. That’s all it took to release the strap and draw the weapon from its holster. Thumb down and forward. But I couldn’t do it in the roughly 1.7 seconds it took for the attacker to cover twenty-plus feet.  I had to abandon the weapon and go right to Krav Maga’s regular stick defense.  You can watch the video

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The Newness Factor

Even after 19 years of Krav Maga stress training, it still amazes me how small changes in circumstance can affect performance and reaction time.

Now, to discuss this specific situation, let’s make a few basic assumptions. First, that I am a reasonably good athlete with reasonably good hand-eye coordination. Second, that the borrowed holster I was using was secure but not complicated to operate. (I had, in fact, practiced the simple release movement several times while waiting my turn in the stress drill.) Third, that I have reasonably good reaction time when dealing with Krav Maga stick and knife defenses (you will have to take this on faith; I don’t claim to be perfect, but I’ve done this sort of thing for a long time).

The reason I make these assumptions is to identify what I think is the one important factor: the situation was new. It wasn’t complex (the holster was easy to operate). Nor was it particularly stressful for me. It was just new. That “newness” was all that was needed to slow my reaction time enough to change my defense. This is true of all of us. Every new situation tests our abilities. To keep our training true, and to maintain a decent state of awareness, we need to constantly change up our environment and circumstances.

To push yourself, try changing up any of the following factors as often as you can:

  • Time of day
  • Clothing
  • Altitude
  • Energy Level
  • Flooring
  • Operating space
  • Size/strength of opponent
  • Resistance level of opponent
  • Lighting

Remember, the environment might not be inherently difficult, but the very newness of it will be a factor. The more we take ourselves out of our comfort zone, the better prepared we will be if we are ever confronted by violence.

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