The Violence Ladder : A Stress Testing Model for Realistic Training || Kaja Sadowski

Kaja Sadowski || Valkyrie Western Martial Arts Assembly || Vancouver, BC, Canada

Weapons: dagger/knife

Martial arts are about preparing for violence. Whether we’re aiming to recreate the fighting arts of a historical period and people, defend against a real-world threat to our safety, or win a swordplay tournament, mastering our chosen arts requires being able to effectively deal with the stress that comes with facing an earnest opponent. We need to understand the effects of adrenaline, and to be able to perform even when we’re flooded with chemicals and emotions. The process of stress testing lets us engage with those effects in a safe environment, so that we know how to handle ourselves before we step into the tournament ring or face down a violent situation on the street. It’s an essential component of training that can be tricky to get right, and many students and instructors are wary of how to approach it because of the emotional and physical challenges involved.

This workshop presents a model for understanding and replicating the stress inherent in a range of fighting contexts, from friendly competition to life-or-death self defense. You’ll learn how different kinds of violence affect your mind and body, get a primer on the effects of adrenaline, and learn how to assess whether your current practice methods are a good fit for the context you’re ultimately training for. You’ll also learn how to build drills that provide the appropriate level of stress to test yourself (or your students) honestly.

This workshop will include a number of high-pressure drills that will give you a good idea of how your current mindset and physical skill are affected by substantial stress. Your safety will be a priority throughout the session, and we will be making limited use of weapons in order to minimize the risk to participants. Drill participation is strictly optional, and students will have an opportunity to check in with the instructor about past injuries, psychological triggers, and other safety concerns prior to the start of drilling.