How Do You Train For Escape?

Every single self-defense gym, reality-based, traditional self-defense, MMA – everybody always talks about escaping, and avoidance, and awareness, and articulation of force and all of these things.  I find a problem in a lot of gyms – maybe not your gym in particular but a lot – is that people mostly just pay lip service to escaping, while then training cool techniques to show their friends.  If my job as self-defense instructor is, number one, to keep my students safe, I should be teaching them to be aware, how to avoid, and if something still happens, escape should be priority one.  If I can’t escape, then de-escalate, if I can’t de-escalate, then attack.

When we’re doing this we talk a lot about de-escalation, people play a lot of de-escalation games. We do a lot of attacking, we learn about knives and sticks and guns and punches and so on and so forth … but barely talk about escape.  “All right, the first thing you should always do is escape, and then from there, you can do this, this, this, and this.”   That’s because the de-escalation and the attacks are the cool things to learn – the problem is that the thing that’s going to keep you safest is the escape.

I see people teach “escape” but they don’t actually teach people to escape, they don’t put it in their training, which doesn’t put it in the box in their head to actually make it a viable technique.

Here’s what I want.  I want you to say you should escape.  Then, I want you to work on drills that build escape patterns, and then I want you to reward escaping as a thing.  For example – we do something called stress testing at KPC.  Multiple people attack at one time, trying to get people used to chaos and different attacks, and the randomness of fights.  In that, there’s four ways to get out.  Number one is three hits, number two is a joint lock, number three is a disarm, and number four is an escape.  If somebody’s coming and they can’t disarm the knife, or they can’t do anything else, passing and running is a viable option to get out of there.  It puts it in the training, which makes it part of the thought process that happens when people’s adrenaline dumps.

Randy King


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