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End of Year Thoughts: Burn the Right Reps

end of year thoughts 2022

Looking back at 2022, what comes immediately to mind is a body of water reflecting back at me, myself in real-time but not myself.  A mirror image that is me but is not me, my clone, from just moments before.  This is the person to whom every single day of training, mindset development, endless mental exercise, and work are devoted to overcoming, an adversary who will be present for the remainder of my life.  My true nemesis. 

"All people should be training to fight.  Some question this statement.  The logic is as follows.  Think about your life, all that you have, and all that you love.  If there is anything in your life that you would fight for, you should be training.  Make it happen." - Tuhon Tom Kier

As Marcus Aurelius said, ...your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts...and as such the quality of your training depends on the same thoughts.  In 2022, we have seen many changes in various concepts and developments of training fads that seem to stick around beyond their expiration date.  This should be troubling to anyone who is always looking to develop mastery over themselves while being constantly bombarded with new trends that may make anyone question their prior actions and thoughts.  Many will even take a moment to consider changing their training from their previously held beliefs based on something that has not been properly evaluated and definitely was never proven in the real world.  Such as forced reloads during training.  Our actions should be consistent, our thoughts should precede our actions, and they should always be contrasted against reality.  But how do you know what you should think, and what actions you should take based on those thoughts?  Remember, the quality of your thoughts determines your actions, your processes, and what manifests into action.  This brings us to the concept of burning good reps.  

What is a rep, in the training context?  The same action is done numerous times to develop a skillset.  Creating an unconcouis competency in a given skillset.

The issue we have come up against, however, is that developing good reps is extremely difficult because of all the information provided to us by the training industry.  We may not know what a good rep looks like, and depending on the context, how one may even be applicable.  That is usually because we do not have an understanding of the proper application of the skillsets we are trying to develop.  In the show Chance, actor Ethan Suplee played a character named D.  There was a scene in the show, I believe it was S01E08, where D escapes from a hospital, still in a hospital gown, and he sees a drug dealer.  He goes over and tells the drug dealer he wants to buy some drugs.  They go into a room nearby and D elbows the drug dealer knocking him out, and taking his money.  When he gets back to the car where the other character asks him what that was about, and he says "training exercise under extreme duress"; In translation, he wanted to burn a good rep during a physically taxing situation he may not experience again willingly.

"Reps that resemble reality will bring you closer to functional levels of application.  Bad reps just make you better at being bad." - Master Chim

That gets us to the question, "what does a good rep look like?" Well, what does reality look like?  What happens in reality? Can we figure out what the real-world application of violence looks like, in 2022 we have had plenty of examples.

Obviously what LEOs do on a daily basis is going look different than what a responsible armed (concealed) carrying citizen does, and especially different than anyone in active MIL service.  But, there are some overlaps.  Sometimes they are physical, sometimes they are hardware-based, and more than likely there is overlap in the mindset of anyone who sets out to be proficient at violence.  In order to be proficient at anything you must spend the time to become so, that means learning "what right looks like".

"It's not merely a matter of practice or "burning reps." The quality of the practice matters or else you'll just get good at doing the wrong thing.  Quality plus quantity over time = positive results." - David Acosta

Seeking out competent instructors, that not only have real-world experience but can explain the why of an exercise and point out the reasons why burning this specific rep is going to apply to the student's everyday lives sets instructors apart.  This is paramount to proper development for application of violence outside of the square range, outside of the academy, outside of the safety of force on force, but directly applicable to what each one of us may see on the streets of the cities and towns we inhabit.  

One such topic that comes up often, which has been called a fad, useless, and a variety of other things, is the "scan".  This is a very important aspect of the real-world application of violence.  Scanning, looking around, and breathing while you are doing so, especially after you used violence in public.  This may stop you from becoming a victim because you are burning a good rep during training for a real-world applicable skill.  Not only should you be looking around, but you should be looking at people, at their faces, and at their eyes, because if you just used deadly force on someone everyone should be looking at you, and if someone is looking away then maybe you should be looking at that direction as well.  Furthermore, per LEOKA multiple attackers are not uncommon in violent situations.  Best to train appropriately and not get tunnel vision during the fight, focusing on the situation directly in front of you but knowing that there may be others who wish to do you harm.  This is a skillset that is widely disregarded in the training industry.

On the square range burning a good rep of scanning is actually pretty simple, and requires no serious delay in any other shooting.  It is a process that you should be going through every time you do any kind of violence.  This is important because if you burn this rep properly it will become weird not to do it in a real-world application.  Of course, it's easier not to do it at all, and you gain nothing during training by burning this rep, definitely no points.  It may save your life one day, even outside of a deadly force situation, as that is the most extreme form of this concept that uses this application.

"Practice makes permanent.  Nerves that fire together wire together.  Whatever reps you burn is what is permanent.  If speed is everything and that is all you chase, that is what becomes permanent.  If 100 percent accountability and assessment speed are what is important, then that is a different means to burn in." - Darryl Bolke, adding to Pat Rogers original quote

What you practice is what you do, and how you burn reps is how you function under stress.  There is no other way the human body develops skillsets.  What you do in training is how you will perform under stress, in the real-world application of any given skill set.  This is not a contentious point, but it seems to be debated very seriously as there are some in the training community who do not believe this to be true.  If you do not scan while training, you will not scan during the "real thing" and if you do not shoot while moving, you will not shoot while moving.  If you do not train one-hand draws from concealment, you will not perform a one-hand draw from concealment under stress, instead, you may experience cognitive dissonance if you end up having one of your hands occupied and are required to perform a draw-stroke, and have only burned two-handed draw stroke reps.  No one rises above what reps they have burned, we are the reps we burn.  If you burn bad reps, you will perform badly, and in the game of deadly force, that has extremely serious consequences.  You should do your best to burn every good rep you can, and steal reps whenever possible. 

You should always be asking yourself, in any context of any training situation.  What am I burning these reps for?  How will they apply to my application of violence?  Does it directly apply to my everyday life?

There are many instances where you will be pushed against a wall to figure out what works and does not work.  There is no isolation when it comes to burning reps.  The movement is the rep, the mindset is the rep, and the context is the rep.  You have to focus on how interpersonal violence exists outside of training, and seek out instructors that provide competent instruction, with effective repetition demonstrations that are directly applicable to your everyday life.  This cannot be done through social media, it must be done in person, with focus.  You do not want to have that fatal realization at the last moment that you burned many hours of reps only to have them not be applicable to reality.  We should all strive to develop confidence through burning good reps, based on reality, the concepts of which have been verified through competent instructors that are intimately familiar with these topics.