The Context Cornerstone

[This is an archived post from Mad Science Defense, currently on indefinite hiatus, and may not reflect the usual tone and content of Author J.R. White and/or the Storyteller at Large Blog. If you have arrived here via links from a website elsewhere in the tactical and combatives training community, we wish you the best in your skill development journey.]


The Context Cornerstone

Context /ˈkäntekst/. noun. The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.

I have two questions for you: In your self-defense training, what are the threats you are training to address? In your everyday life, what are the threats you are most likely to face? If those two questions don’t have the same answer, than you’ve got a context problem.

Context is one of the cornerstone concepts of effective training. If you’re training for an event in a contextually inaccurate fashion, you’re wasting your time.

Let’s look at an example:

Imagine you’re a father whose young daughter is about to start driving alone for the first time. You’d want her to know how to change a tire, right? So let’s say you take her to a professional garage and teach her how to raise the vehicle to chest height on a giant pneumatic lift, and how to remove the wheel with an impact wrench. Then you teach her how to strip the tire from the rim, replace and balance it, and then put it back on the car. She would know a lot about changing a tire, right?

And then, a week later you get a panicked call from her cellphone. She’s standing on the side of the highway with a flat tire and she has no idea what to do. She’s never used a tire iron or a jack, and she doesn’t even know where in her vehicle they are mounted. Because she was taught to change a tire using tools she doesn’t have and in a setting that didn’t reflect her reality, she has been set up for failure.

Now you may think that example is a little silly, but in the training world you will sometimes see students show up to a “home defense rifle” class in full body armor, mag carrier and fatigues. He is not likely to have all that gear on if someone kicks in door in during the night. Contextually speaking, that gentleman either has the wrong gear for the class, or the wrong class for his situation. Either way, he will not get the most from that training.

You have a responsibility to yourself to choose Contextually Accurate Training, which I define as training to address the threats you are most likely to face, using the tools you are most likely to have at the time the threat occurs.

Defending yourself from lethal aggression is far more stressful and time sensitive than changing a tire. Waiting for the tow-truck is just an inconvenience, but waiting for the police could be fatal.

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