Wednesday, October 10, 2012

SELF-DEFENSE: Lee Aldridge - Adrenal Stress Training: The Hows and Whys

Adrenal Stress Training: The Hows and Whys
By Lee Aldridge

The topic of adrenal stress training can be quite controversial. I thought that a more detailed explanation of the methodologies (and reasoning behind them) could be beneficial.


Humans tend to learn most efficiently when certain steps occur during their course of study.

  1. Skill Acquisition
  2. Skill Development
  3. Performance Simulation
  4. Real-World Performance

For the purposes of Adrenal Stress Training (AST), the above 4 categories are comprised of distinct elements which each play an important part in the end product.

1. Skill Acquisition: This stage contains the familiar bag/pad work, footwork modeling, shadow boxing, etc. that are the staples of many martial arts programs.

2. Skill Development: Here, the basic skills are practiced against a non-resistive opponent at first, then against increasing resistance from the partner. What techniques will be used, the range of responses, as well as psychological and environmental factors are held constant to focus on the application of the skill being developed.

3. Performance Simulation: This is the stage where many traditional training methodologies begin to falter. A well-defined, progressive structure must be implemented in order to ensure the successful retention of skillsets. By providing either insufficient or overwhelming stimulation, progress is diminished.

I call the method Progressive Stress Inoculation or PSI. PSI is always thought of as a "pressure" term anyways! Pretty cool, huh?

The trainee begins drills in this stage which are identical to the later drills of step 2. This segue provides a smooth transition into performance simulation. By slowly removing elements of foreknowledge, time comfort, and distance/perception intervals, the drills can become much closer to the actual event environment. The trick is to have a logical plan on what element to change next. Choosing the wrong element can cause problems similar to the "confounding variable" effect of the scientific method, where the performance progression can be collapsed unintentionally.

For example, with all other elements remaining constant, the trainee will be forced to perform his situational analysis/response in a shorter time.... the bad guy with knife starts his attack from closer distance, the bad guy throws the sucker punch faster and less telegraphically, etc.....

Once acceptable performance in a given parameter is reached, then another variable is introduced. Eventually, the progression works it magic, and performance near the live-event level is accomplished.

4. Real-World Performance: In this final stage, we are able to pressure-test the results of the 3 previous stages. These unscripted, high-pressure drills are conducted in settings that resemble actual performance venues. (Attendees will remember the Atlanta bathroom stall adventure......a good example despite my feeling that the seminar time constraints didn't allow sufficient time in the preceding stages...)

These unscripted scenarios are often used to test trainees for advancement and/or certification in some circles. Ultimately, they provide the best recreation of live events while still possessing some semblance of safety to the participants. The development of Simunitions and their ensuing use in FOF is a great example of how this progressive methodology can be implemented in training.

This is by no means a complete treatise on AST methods. I hope that this brief discussion will give you a better picture of the goals and methods of AST as I see it.


You can contact Lee Aldridge care of his site:



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