Reality Check
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The Floor Fixes All

One of James Longs' favorite phrases is
"the floor fixes all." What he means by that specificially is that rolling and training on mats can lead to some bad habits and a false sense of security.  No one would reasonably argue that mats are a bad thing in general, but it's good to get a periodic reality check on how well (and smooth) you're rolling when tested on a hard floor.  If you feel KA-CHUNK-KA-CHUNK-KA-CHUNK on several places on your shoulder, back, and foot on your rolls, then you'll know immediately you're not smooth in a very real (and somewhat painful) way.  And if you ever had to roll on on concrete or asphalt, that's exactly what it will feel like if done improperly because concrete doesn't have 2 inches of padding on top.

The same thing applies to breakfall drills, such as a front-fall and backfall.  This is what it will feel like if you slip on ice (and in Clevleand, Ohio in the winter that's a fact of life), so you might as well get used to it.

(pictures coming soon!)
Enclosed Spaces / Imperfect Conditions

It's also important to periodically test your techniques in enclosed spaces, such as against walls and in low-light conditions. Hillcrest instructors call learning how to move and fight in small spaces
"phone booth fighting.".  Learning techniques in the safety of a well-lit dojo (with padded floors and 15+ feet of space to the nearest wall) is still the best option in the interest of participate safety, but as training progresses it is necessary to test how well people react to techniques with a concrete wall or table within arm's length.

(more pictures coming soon!)
Arm-grab outside in the rain.  Meghan on left, James on right
Fenix Women's Self Defense CD)
Choking technique in an alley.  Meghan on left, James on right.  Meghan not only has very little room to maneuver, but there is an uneven step to her right.
Fenix Women's Self Defense CD)