Types of Force on Force Training and Attributes of Opposition

| December 9, 2016 | 0 Comments

Force on force (FoF) training has been around for awhile, but it’s gained in popularity in the last five years or so.

More and more instructors are offering at least some FoF components to their classes. Some offer dedicated FoF courses. Some companies, such as Forward Movement Training in Idaho, consider force on force training a core part of their business model.

I have gotten more and more questions about FoF training and equipment as time has gone on. As part of an ongoing series about this kind of opposed, interactive training, I define the three types of FoF training and the four attributes of opposition.

Types of Force on Force Training


Working on a single technique or skill repeatedly with one or more partners. This is not a fight, nor a scenario. Exposure through repetition is the primary focus


Basically, fighting. This could be a Shivworks ECQC evolution where you start on the ground and try to get up, or using a knife to fight multiple attackers in Ed’s Manifesto‘s Weaponology course. The fight is almost always guaranteed.

The vast majority of schools focus on sparring in their FoF classes (e.g., Suarez International, DTI, etc).


An everyday, “real life” situation wherein the student is given a task such as meeting a friend at a restaurant, going to the bank, or buying groceries.

Scenarios must have at least two possible outcomes, one of which does not involve fighting.

Scenarios should allow the student to implement (or attempt to implement) several aspects of pre-fight training such as managing unknown contacts, deescalation, managing The Valley / Don’t Shoot Yet. The scenerio should also allow for post-contact procedures such as dealing with bystanders, responding law enforcement officers, calling 911, and administering trauma care as necessary.

The vast, vast majority of FoF work from QSI Training and the aforementioned Forward Movement Training is scenario-based.

Four attributes of opposition

This is not my system; this is how Craig Douglas runs his training programs and force on force sparring sessions. If you have more information about the proper name of these attributes please let me know and I’ll edit this article.


Students offer little to no resistance during practice. This should be done very rarely, and usually for when students were learning something for the first time, or if the technique has a very high probability for injury if done with “enthusiasm.”


The attacker will resist the student, but only try to stop what the student is doing.

Students offer resistance per the direction of the instructor.

Could be anywhere from 20% to 90%. “Going 100%” never happens due to safety. If someone gets thrown to the ground in your FoF class and head stomped repeatedly at full force, you may want to go home.


The objective is to do one specific drill or technique as “accurately” as possible. Resistance may or may not be present.


Each participant is trying to “win.” A common example is an armed, violent robbery. The good guy is trying to stop the bad guy, the bad guy is trying to kill the good guy and potentially any other participant. Any tools, skills, techniques are available per the direction of the instructor.

The four attributes can be combined, so that you may have a technical, nonconsensual drill where Student A is trying to establish underhooks on Student B, and Student B is just trying to keep the underhooks from happening.

The Full Spectrum

The three forms of force on force are not hierarchical. They are all important, and have a proper place and time. I prefer scenario-based training because it allows me to practice more of what I’ve learned over the years — or as John Farnam explained in his FoF course — “make a complete breakfast.”

The four attributes of opposition provide the instructor a way to increase or decrease focus and resistance (often lumped together as “speed”) as the situation and participants dictate.

Ideally, your FoF diet should be comprised of all three types of training, at all of the levels of opposition.

What kind of training are you doing?

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.

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