When we train in self defense, we often think of responding to a single event–for example, needing to block a punch or evade a kick or a grab. We assume that we must match action with (re)action or develop a 1:1 response. However, the study of self-defense, whether it is for personal protection or other applications, is much more comprehensive then applying a set of learned techniques. You must deal with situational transitions.
Think about learning to drive a car. When we first begin the process of driving we often think – “if somebody comes in front of the car I will apply the brake and stop the car.” But say it’s 5 p.m., you’re driving home from work, tired, and the sun is directly in your eyes. Traffic is bad and you’re irritated. The light changes and you try to beat the yellow – a person is crossing the street. In order to stop the car you slam your foot on the brake and swerve…except there’s a crowd to your left you must dodge.
Not what you prepared to deal with while learning to drive.
Different situations solicit different responses. But any the environment a situation occurs in is always changed by a series of complex interactions. In essence, self-defense must respond to a dynamic system with complex and shifting interactions. Training means much more than accumulating a bag of techniques. It helps you recognize that you will also be subjected to transitions within the environment, and teaches you to deal with that.
Correct training involves honing the ability to adapt to dynamics.