Skip to main content

Drilling the “Rough Break” for Grappling & Streetwork by Mark Hatmaker

Let’s start with a little Old West history and then walk that into a mighty pragmatic drill-set that trains sensitivity, sensory deprivation, and overall resourcefulness.

Our first stop is a little horse-breaking practice that will upset horse-whisperers everywhere.

In the wild and wooly old days horses were mighty useful companions and work-mates, but, and this may come as a surprise to many, horses don’t pop out of the womb with a hankering to be ridden.

In our best-case scenario, a young horse is acclimated to people, raised around people, seen other horses ridden, and even then, the initial acceptance of bit, saddle and rider is still a slow process.

This rider-acceptance is all the more recalcitrant in a freshly captured mustang, a wild adult horse that has not been socialized to humans let alone fostered any unfulfilled dreams of losing its liberty and having a curiously garbed ape perched atop its back.

Compassionate “gentling” takes some time. Gentling is the preferred method, but on a working ranch and/or working drive, time was not always yours for the asking, so “breaking” was used over “gentling.”

We’ve all seen variations of horse-breaking in Western films. The bronco-buster heads into the corral, walks a horse down with a lasso and then hops atop, spends a few seconds before getting tossed, then repeats the process ad nauseum until fatigue or begrudging acceptance is won. [William Wyler’s 1958 film The Big Country has an excellent depiction of this dogged process.]

But even breaking as just described takes time. When time is of the essence, some bronco-busters would resort to the “rough break.”

In a rough break, the buster ropes the horse, chokes it down [yep, you heard me right], once down the animal is saddled and blindfolded. The buster steps atop the green bronc and strips off the blindfold, digs in with spurs, slams home a quirt and rides it out.

Oh, he’s still tossed, but good bronc-busters say that it only takes about three rides with the rough-break method and then the horse can be turned over to the cowboy.

Now, I’m not a card-carrying friend to PETA, and not condoning rough break methods, but I am here to say we can modify rough-breaking for our own combat training.

Let’s have a look-see.

Rough Breaking for Grappling

·        Hit the mat and have your “bronc” don a blindfold.

·        Position an opponent before him—both are in short-offense [starting from the knees to take hard unprotected takedowns out of the picture.]

·        Start with cohesion, that is, collar and elbow, over-under, whatever “coming to grips” is your cuppa tea.

·        Blow the whistle and let her buck!

·        If when the bronc is on the bottom—call “Freeze!” and remove the blindfold.

·        Then call “Go!”

·        From the now visually aware bottom position the bronc tries to get back in the winning game or at least survive until the clock dictates.

·        The bronc’s goal is to win via submission, or at the very least not find oneself in a pinned bottom position.

·        Extra Credit: Use the rough-break number of three rides to really get the most out of the experience.

Rough Breaking for Street-Work

·        You can, of course, use the prior drill but switch the grappling arsenal for one of ripping, striking and tearing as long as appropriate gear is used.

·        To raise the stakes, take it to the feet but…

·        Start from cohesion, a hands-on position of some sort and minus out hard strikes. [If partners agree and are geared appropriately, open hand slaps are a nice addition.]

·        I also find using the rough-break protocol for muffling an “X” Weapon [knife or firearm on the person] is another useful approach.

·        Again, if/when the bronc is clearly in a position of “Yeah, that ain’t looking too good” call “Freeze!” remove the blindfold and allow them to work their way out of the riddle.

It’s easy to see that all forms of rough-breaking, whether it be true bronc-busting or consenting humans scuffling with one another there are bruises to be accrued, but...some mighty hard skills won.


Popular posts from this blog

Warrior Awareness Drills by Mark Hatmaker

THE Primary Factor in self-protection/self-defense is situational awareness. Keeping in mind that crime is, more often than not, a product of opportunity, if we take steps to reduce opportunity to as close to nil as we can manage we have gone a long way to rendering our physical tactical training needless [that’s a good thing.]
Yes, having defensive tactical skills in the back-pocket is a great ace to carry day-to-day but all the more useful to saving your life or the lives of loved ones is a honed awareness, a ready alertness to what is occurring around you every single day.
Here’s the problem, maintaining such awareness is a Tough job with a capital T as most of our daily lives are safe and mundane [also a good thing] and this very safety allows us to backslide in good awareness practices. Without daily danger-stressors we easily fall into default comfort mode.
A useful practice to return awareness/alertness to the fore is to gamify your awareness, that is, to use a series of specific…

Apache Running by Mark Hatmaker

Of the many Native American tribes of the southwest United States and Mexico the various bands of Apache carry a reputation for fierceness, resourcefulness, and an almost superhuman stamina. The name “Apache” is perhaps a misnomer as it refers to several different tribes that are loosely and collectively referred to as Apache, which is actually a variant of a Zuni word Apachu that this pueblo tribe applied to the collective bands. Apachu in Zuni translates roughly to “enemy” which is a telling detail that shines a light on the warrior nature of these collective tribes.
Among the various Apache tribes you will find the Kiowa, Mescalero, Jicarilla, Chiricahua (or “Cherry-Cows” as early Texas settlers called them), and the Lipan. These bands sustained themselves by conducting raids on the various settled pueblo tribes, Mexican villages, and the encroaching American settlers. These American settlers were often immigrants of all nationalities with a strong contingent of German, Polish, and …

Awareness Drill: The Top-Down Scan by Mark Hatmaker

American Indians, scouts, and indigenous trackers the world over have been observed to survey terrain/territory in the following manner.
A scan of the sky overhead, then towards the horizon, and then finally moving slowly towards the ground.
The reason being that outdoors, what is overhead-the clouds, flying birds, monkeys in trees, the perched jaguar—these overhead conditions change more rapidly than what is at ground level.
It has been observed by sociologists that Western man whether on a hike outdoors or in an urban environment seldom looks up from the ground or above eye-level. [I would wager that today, he seldom looks up from his phone.]
For the next week I suggest, whether indoors or out, we adopt this native tracker habit. As you step into each new environment [or familiar ones for that matter] scan from the top down.
I find that this grounds me in the awareness mindset. For example, I step into my local Wal-Mart [or an unfamiliar box store while travelling] starting at the top, t…