Mother Nature is ruthless, she really doesn’t care who you are or how much cool gear you own. She has her own agenda and you are just along for the ride. That ride can make or break you sometimes.
We just finished another excellent Combatives class with my good friend Ton Blauer. The class had some great energy and it’s always good to see the progression leading up to the free flow drills at the end.
It’s important to perform these drills because it takes the skills you’ve learned and puts them to use. Yes, it’s a controlled setting, yes it’s not real, but that doesn’t take away from the importance of this concept and the take away. That take away is largely about confidence and fear management. The constant exposure to high stress helps each person address whatever apprehensions they might have and the confidence is not exclusive to technique, but gear as well.
It’s not always about technique validation, that is a huge part. It also challenges you and your gear. Gear and equipment is in a constant state of flux. New technology, manufacturing and materials will hopefully help improve on the gear we use, but even then you still need to test it in realistic conditions. You need to have the confidence your gear will fight for you and not against you.
We use to say, that if your gear could survive passage through the surf zone it was good to go. There is probably no tougher test than the awesome power of the ocean as it crashes on the beach. Imagine being in an enormousness washer set on a spin cycle from hell. On more than a few occasions I learned that gear I thought was good to, actually wasn’t. Other times, I gained confidence in my gear because it held up to pounding going through the surf zone.
Granted, not everyone has a surf zone in their backyard, but there are still things you can do to proof your gear. The free flow drills at the end of the Combatives class are a great example of alternate methods to surf zone proofing. Several students learned that gear they thought would be available wasn’t once things got more fluid. That take away is priceless.
You go home armed with not just new skills, but validation of gear or the opportunity to improve on your gear. On more than one occasion I changed, added or flat out replaced gear as a result of the surf zone. It helped me to be a more efficient and capable operator. What have you done to proof your gear?