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Train Like You Bleed

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You've heard train like you fight; Kerry Davis posits you should train like you bleed (and as frequently). This isn't a new article but it's worth repeating. I'm sitting in a Dark Angel Medical class as I type this – you'll get a full AAR soon, but in the meantime read this: Train Like You Bleed.  David Reeder

We all bleed. Our skin is broken and we bleed. No one is immune to that simple fact of life. If we get into a fight for our life, a motor vehicle accident or slip off a ladder while cleaning out rain gutters at our house; we will bleed.

For years we’ve all heard the saying, “Train like you fight!” and the other one, “The more you sweat in training the less you will bleed in battle.” While those have their merits of building a ‘training memory’ through long-term potentiation and stress inoculation so that an action becomes an action through our subconscious self, we still must realize that we are human beings, infallible and prone to bleeding. Thus, I would like offer up an additional training mantra:


Not just train like you fight – train like you bleed.

Kerry Davis Dark Angel Medical lecturing2I’m not saying that to give anyone a negative mindset or to say that it is a defeatist attitude as that is not the intent at all, just as the “Train like you fight” is not a negative mindset or defeatist at all but a mindset based in reality. I want you to train like you fight because you may be in the fight for your life and you must have the proper training and mindset to win the fight. However, when that fight is over and you are victorious, you may have become grievously injured and your life may be measured in seconds. How quickly can you fix yourself? Well, you’ve got the rest of your life to figure it out!

After the fight (or accident, whatever the case may be) is over is where the training like you bleed comes into play. Just like the outcome of the fight depends on your training and mindset, so does the outcome of your dealing with your injury or the injury of someone else. There are many correlations between our medical and weapons training. We practice various scenarios, utilize cover, manipulate our gear with both our dominant and non-dominant hands and train in stressful environments so that our actions become a part of our subconscious. Yet, it’s disheartening to see such a perceived pervasive attitude of complacency when it comes to learning the basics of lifesaving skills when so much emphasis is placed on putting holes in bad guys.

Even if the ‘desire’ to learn the medical aspect isn’t there, it should be on the “checklist” of every person who carries a firearm. We spend time learning the legal intricacies involved with carrying a firearm and using deadly force so that we are a contributor and not a liability to our society. However, we’ve only got a portion of the pie and the big slice being left out is getting medical training. From a legal standpoint, we may be putting ourselves at a higher risk if we are engaged in a deadly force encounter and have no medical training in case the bad guy is wounded and not killed.

The shooting community would benefit from such training and it could even present a more positive image of us to the non-shooting community. Realistically, will we ever get a chance to utilize the training in a shooting? Chances are very slim. In everyday life? Absolutely. A former student of mine utilized the training 2 weeks after a class to save the life of a critically injured accident victim.
Human flesh is fragile and is easily punctured by bullets, knives, glass or the broken steel of a wrecked automobile. Fixing it is hard. Knowing how to fix it is just as critical as knowing how to put holes in it and is the reason you should TRAIN LIKE YOU BLEED.


Kerry “Pocket Doc” Davis

Dark Angel Medical

Read Trauma Preparedness: You be the judge.

Kerry Davis Dark Angel Medical lecturing

Article images by Jae Gillentine.

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