Lessons from the Grandmaster- Part Three of Five

The Grandmaster Makes a Painful Point

My teacher, Grandmaster Robert Law, has unique views as they relate to training.  All of his methods have applications to teaching emergency responders.

One of his fundamental concepts is the counter-intuitive idea that we learn best when we are under moderate stress.  The opposite approach is where a student experiences no stress during their training.

Here is a famous example of an Ontario policeman and martial artist who learned by standard training methods:

The policeman pulled over a reckless driver on the 401 highway that stretches from Windsor to Toronto and beyond.  As he got close to the car, the driver got out and pointed a gun at him.  The policeman, a highly trained martial artist, reacted with blinding speed, took the gun away from the driver and then, without a thought, returned it to him.

What happened next?

When he realized his mistake, he tried to take the gun away again and this time the driver shot him.


Because in standard training, the student practices the pistol takeaway and then returns it to the other student so that they can practice the move again.  And they do it again and again and again.

So the policeman was just repeating his training when he gave the gun back to the driver.

There was no stress in his training.  No sense that the person with the gun was really an enemy and that he could really get hurt if he didn’t totally disable the opponent.

It’s very much the same with hazardous gas detector training.  We see a movie.  We learn how to operate the device.  No stress during the training.  No sense that the situation is real.  No sense that there are consequences.

The results can be catastrophic.

In our next post, we’ll get a look at how Phil Ambrose’s new training system deals with this problem.  You’ll see a video of how the system operates.

You’ll find it highly instructive.