Pressure testing is a buzz word right now along with ‘reality-based’, ‘pressure points’ and ‘cross-training’. Just as with the other buzz words there is some misconception as to what pressure testing is. Most people seem to think it involves blood, sweat and tears in copious amounts; somewhat like an MMA fight actually. This isn’t far from the truth in some cases but is also far, far from truth at the initial conception stage.
Application and techniques need to go through a steady and studied process.
Discovery or design
The first part of the process is either discovering an application whilst practicing (most likely a case of the ‘light bulb’) or through deliberate design. The latter is especially most likely to happen if you’re following Bill Burgar’s theories on patterns and their applications.
As Bill says however you should ensure that the techniques don’t require huge amounts of fine motor skills or go against instincts. A good example of a techniue with that utilises gross motor skills and instinct is a punch to the face. Simple, effective and part of our nature.
Phase One – Developing the technique
Once you have a technique that you think might be valid you need to develop it. Break it down and see how it flows, the stances you use whilst in the various stages of the application and where it takes you partner. At this stage they will be fully compliant and go wherever you tell them to go. Practice should be slow, perhaps covering each step many times before moving onto the next.
You should also be looking at whether it’s too complicated and whether it makes you do anything that ‘doesn’t feel right’ e.g., go against instinct.
Phase Two – Decreased Compliancy
Phase Two is where things start to get interesting. After going through Phase One (for as long as you need, there’s no time limit for this) you now need to see how the technique works if your partner is resisting.
Don’t go straight into full-on resistance and application however as this is where the blood, sweat and tears come to the fore very quickly.
Instead, just slowly increase both the level of resistance and the speed of the technique. Some techniques such as wrist locks against grabs can be performed very slowly with 100% resistance relatively safely. Whilst you’re doing this it’s very important to try to go through each stage rather than just blasting it out. This helps you get to feel how the technique should work and allows your partner to learn what it feels like, where he’s most likely to and (most importantly) to learn the danger points where further resistance will result in injury.
Once you are both comfortable with how the technique feels and any ‘break’ points decrease the compliancy to 0% and increase the speed (not necessarily the power) to whatever level you feel comfortable. Bear in mind that the safety of you partner is paramount. Don’t have them resist through actually struggling or striking back. They should still just be resisting the movement, gripping as hard as possible etc.
Phase Three – Active Resistance
As before everything should be done slowly. Protection doesn’t necessarily need to be worn in the early stagesof this but will be needed later.
Your partner should now start to add active resistance to the application. Using a pull as an example he should now try to break free of the pull, or to go with the pull and use it to his advantage. Of course, all of this should be perform at a speed that matches yours if possible. If performing it slowly, distractions and dirty techniques such as spitting or blowing into their face shouldn’t be used as they need to be performed at full speed and will alter any results you get from this stage negatively.
Once again as you get comfortable with a technique it’s time to up the contact, speed and resistance. This is where the sweat really starts to flow. Depending on the technique it may be reactive or pro-active and should be work through all the way. Realistic distancing should be used rather than the standard sparring distance (which is usually kicking distance for Tae Kwon Do fighters). Protection should be worn as even light contact can start to wear you down as repeated hits strike the same spot time and time again. Contact should be whatever you both feel comfortable with.
The final part of this is full-out resistance to a level agreed by both both partners. Shouting, pushing, spitting, blowing, low kicks etc, should all be applied both whilst resisting and applying the technique. There is no such thing as a perfect application and it should be borne in mind that there is no such thing as a fair fight.
So have fun, be careful and I hope you find some interesting applications.