– Hunter B. Armstrong
Most modern training systems take a compartmentalized approach to training the individual in non-natural, fabricated fighting skills. Such training generally covers only very specific weapons and techniques related towards and driven by those weapons. Handgun use, for example, is typically considered a completely different set of skills from any other weapon, even other firearms. Instruction in handgun use rarely, if ever, is related to non-firearms combat, such as with blades, sticks (batons), or empty-hands. As a result, each of these areas tends to be taught (and learned) as separate and distinct skill sets. Unfortunately, this is a proverbial ass-backwards perspective on human combative behavior and performance.
In any combative confrontation, the weapon does not do the fighting; the human wielding the weapon is the combatant. Any weapon can be nothing more than a tool to be used more or less efficiently in whatever situation the user applies its use. The tool does not need training, nor does each tool require a distinct set of behavior and performance skills for the user to engage in combat. Weapons indeed need training in their efficient operation, but that is not training in or for combat; it is merely training in the simple basics of operating that particular weapon.
Exemplar training is designed to enhance the individual’s combative performance and behavior capabilities; in short, it is designed to train the mind. All training is aimed at making the individual competent and capable in combat no matter what the weapon. To that end, Exemplar training is designed to enhance the natural human responses and capabilities that have evolved in the human species. Rather than attempting to learn artificial or fabricated skills that will breakdown under the extreme stress of combative confrontation, Exemplar training aims at enhancing natural human attributes that evolved in humans and their ancestors to deal with combat and the stress of combat.
This core instruction is combined with training in the operational skills of weapons. These capabilities form the foundation of effective fighting whether with handgun, empty-hands, knife, or shotgun.
Combat always involves at least one opponent – an adversary. All Exemplar training puts a great deal of emphasis on adversary drills.
Two elements are vital in performing effectively against an adversary: the operational aspects (weapons handling, movement, etc.) and the behavioral aspects (handling the stress of an adversary who is attacking with the aim of causing death or injury). No matter how good an individual’s skill operating a weapon, if the individual is not prepared for the stress of fighting another human being, that individual is likely to lose the fight. Therefore in Exemplar drills, instructors act the parts of motivated adversaries in a variety of scenarios that are utilized to work from the most basic level of combat operational competence to tactical capability. The structure of adversary training in the Exemplar drills allows the individual to learn to deal with the stress of an adversary simultaneous with developing operational skills.