Leave your ego at the door…

Pretty much anybody can choose to “bang” and be “aggressive“ on the mats… however, one’s individual willingness to take &/or give abuse under the guise of “training” is not an indication of skill or ability. To the contrary, it can highlight an ignorance of the mechanisms involved in learning & understanding technique, particularly for a beginner. That’s not to say that there isn’t a time & place (and skill level) appropriate for aggressive training & partnering. There is. Stress/aggression drills, contact sparring & moving “quickly” can be an effective way to put what you’ve learned to the test… demonstrating just how well you’ve really learned what you’ve been practicing. But, stress/aggression drills are actually purpose-driven, not just a “free for all”.  This kind of advanced training can be fun & challenging in a very positive way. However, the prerequisite is learning the fundamentals, control & the need for partner preservation.

The “wow factor” demonstrated by skilled practitioners in any discipline didn’t happen overnight. It is usually the product of methodical training & practice. That repetitive practice leads to “muscle memory” which leads to speed & fluidity…not the other way around.

In traditional martial arts & MMA (mixed martial arts), contact sparring is usually done in a controlled environment…with both parties clear on the objectives of the engagement &, depending on the situation, geared up with adequate protective equipment (groin cup, mouth guard, gloves, head gear, shin guards, etc…) to allow the execution of aggressive techniques without significant damage done to the participants, who would presumably like to continue practicing their chosen sport or art without the inconvenience of excessive time off to heal unnecessary injuries & physical damage. By the time the combatants go all out in the ring/competition, they’ve put in significant hours of practice at learning how to execute the techniques PROPERLY. They’ve earned the right to “bang”.

A controlled environment is even more vital in self defense training where participants are consciously attacking “soft targets“ with techniques specifically designed to cause physical harm & incapacitation of one’s opponent in order to escape. When you add “weapons” to the equation, the stakes are even higher. Self defense training is not pretty and it’s not a sport. It’s about training to survive a physical attack, not about “acting tough” or trying to look like some kind of “badass”.

One of the best & most consistent examples of effective self defense training is at HaganaH Headquarters in Florida. Training takes place year round at this facility but each February, at the annual “conference”, the leadership, Black Belts, School Owners & F.I.G.H.T. Instructors gather as a group to enhance their skills at the source. The F.I.G.H.T. system (under Mike Lee Kanarek) is openly & proudly opportunistic in that F.I.G.H.T. intentionally draws from whatever techniques work best in the field….now, not just “historically”. F.I.G.H.T. evolves.  When we, as a group, are learning these techniques & enhancements one can look across the mats and see everyone moving slowly, methodically and with complete focus. It doesn’t matter that a large majority of the participants are “alpha” male, active law enforcement or military personnel, or that the person standing beside you may have years of expertise in a variety of other martial arts or combat disciplines. It’s not a pissing contest to see who is “toughest”, “fastest“ or can sport the most bruises. No one is impressed by someone acting recklessly or without control. Everyone is there to LEARN.

“Muscle Memory” is not a gimmick…nor is it really the muscles that are remembering anything. It is a function of your brain in creating neural pathways that are reinforced with practice & repetition.

Wikipedia definition:

Muscle memory has been used synonymously with motor learning, which is a form of procedural memory that involves consolidating a specific motor task into memory through repetition. When a movement is repeated over time, a long-term muscle memory is created for that task, eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort. This process decreases the need for attention and creates maximum efficiency within the motor and memory systems. Examples of muscle memory are found in many everyday activities that become automatic and improve with practice, such as riding a bicycle, typing on a keyboard, etc…

That being the case, you can just as easily create muscle memory with poor technique as you can with good technique. If you insist on approaching all your training with speed, aggression & force, you are much more likely to make mistakes that you won’t necessarily even be aware of until it becomes a problem. Then, if you are eventually made aware of it, you now have to reprogram yourself to do it properly instead of getting it right the first time. You’ve wasted your own time.


If you injure your training partners because you lack control & skill in the execution of techniques while learning, it won’t be long before you run out of partners willing to train with you. You’ve effectively become what Mike refers to as an “a**hole partner”. If you are the one injured, either by your own actions or by dealing with an a**hole partner, you are now potentially faced with the annoyance of a forced break from your training, pain & physical damage…not to mention medical bills. Few of us can afford the unnecessary aggravation.


At Train Like You Mean It! we take what we do very seriously. The people who train with us are thinking individuals, from all types of professions and varied life experiences, who share the desire to take responsibility for their own well-being and that of their loved ones. They come to our mats with the expectation of a safe environment in which to learn solid techniques in a proven system (with the added bonus of increasing their physical endurance & fitness level). We respect and enforce that environment. Those that just want to “bang”, should go to an MMA gym…and they’ll accommodate you.

If you want to learn effective self defense techniques

that will increase the likelihood that you or your loved ones

will survive a physical attack…

then, welcome to our F.I.G.H.T. training facility!

Leave your ego at the door, listen, slow down, focus and be a good partner…

and you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for.