If everything were on the line, how long would you be able to fight for your life at maximum effort? Researchers from Force Science completed a study to look at the effects of physical exhaustion had on a Law Enforcement Officer's ability to recall details. For our purposes, the results revealed the following:
"Researchers recruited 52 officer volunteers (42 males, 10 females), ranging in age from 23 to 51, with an average of 8 years on the job. All were 'familiar with officer safety training involving high aerobic physical engagement,' according to Dave Blocksidge, a Force Science Analyst from the London (England) Metropolitan Police, and one of the research team.
"Most dramatic—and alarming— was the speed at which exerters depleted their physical resources. On average, the officers spent 56 seconds hitting the bag, although some either quit or were called out as thoroughly exhausted after as little as 25 seconds. The blows they were able to deliver ranged from a low of 73 to a high of 274. The average was 183. The overwhelming majority of hits were fist punches.
"Reviewing time-coded video of the action, researchers were able to count second by second the number of times each participant struck the bag. The average officer peaked at 15 seconds. After that, the frequency of strikes fell in a sharp and steady decline.
"'The officers started out strong, driving hard with penetrating hits that visibly moved the heavy bag,' [Dr. Bill] Lewinski reports. 'But by 30 to 40 seconds, most were significantly weakened. They were not able to breathe properly, their cadence dropped, their strikes scarcely moved the bag if at all, and they were resorting largely to very weak, slowly paced blows that would have had little impact on a combative assailant.'
"In effect, Blocksidge states in a paper he has written about the research, the exerters 'delivering a concerted and sustained physical assault... "punched themselves out"' in a matter of seconds.
"Perhaps surprisingly, this seemed true even of officers with a high level of personal fitness and fighting skill. Blocksidge offers this explanation: 'Fitter officers delivered faster and more powerful strikes,' expending greater effort and thus exhausting their presumably greater reserves in 'roughly the same time' as those less fit and skilled."
So for most of us, this means we have about 15 good seconds of sustained fighting ability before we start losing steam. This is why we focus on injuring our antagonist within 5-7 seconds in Injury Dynamics training. Thank you to Chris Ranck-Buhr for bringing this data point to light.
In the words of Injury Dynamics creator Chris Ranck-Buhr, "Get the first injury and everything turns in our favor."