Seven Levels of Simulation Training

by Richard Rosenkrantz & Gary Klugiewicz

The following text was taken from the video, “Building Blocks of Simulation Training”, written by Richard Rosenkrantz, Special Projects Manager for the RedMan Division of Macho Products. The concept of the Seven Levels of Simulation Training was developed by Gary Klugiewicz, incorporating ideas and techniques from other national trainers.


  1. Shadow training
  2. Prop training
  3. Partner training
  4. Dynamic movement
  5. Relative positioning
  6. Environmental factor training
  7. High level simulations

1) Shadow Training

The first level is Shadow Training, where students learn gross motor movements. Here officers practice techniques in the air, like shadow boxing or doing baton techniques without a baton. It helps them learn and practice various movements, before the instructor makes the training more complicated by adding partners, and choices. Shadow Training is useful as the first level of training because if too many elements are added too soon, the student has a tendency to overload on stimulus, or “freak out” a little, and learn nothing. You don’t need to wear any type of protective equipment for this level of training.  An added advantage of Shadow training is that it allows instructors to watch and evaluate the students very effectively by eliminating the props and partners that sometimes conceal improper technique.

Further, Shadow Training can be very useful when it’s incorporated into students’ tactical warm ups, and as the students practice these movements, it will help them get those 3,000 5,000 repetitions that are needed to place a physical technique in the long term memory; making it a reflex.

2) Prop Training

The second level is Prop Training, where the tools of the trade are added to the simulation exercises, inert aerosol weapons, practice batons, simulation firearms and practice handcuffs.

Using impact weapon training as an example, it’s definitely a good idea to work with the practice baton first, even when just striking in the air, before officer’s train with their actual duty batons in the air. The practice baton allows the officer to make mistakes that would be much more painful if they were hit with a duty baton. These mistakes are always a serious consideration in the “awkwardness phase” that accompanies most psycho motor skill training.

Warning: We need to warn you as instructors that before you start any training session using props, you must teach your students how to use the equipment properly in order to avoid injury.

3) Partner Training

The third level is Partner Training where the instructor simply adds a partner to the drill, and students can start practicing their moves on each other. With the addition of a partner, RedMan protective equipment should became part of the training environment in order to protect the students against blows as well as from their falling down, even during static training.

This is the level at which “desensitization” training is introduced, where the students experience what it feels like to strike and be struck by another person. This training initially is conducted at a static level and then becomes more dynamic; the students wear Partial Suits consisting of Elbows, Knees, Body Guards and Head Gear. As the training focuses on practice baton strikes to the arms or legs, Arm Guards or Thigh Guards are added to buffer some of the force of blows to these areas. This is one of the most important benefits of Redman equipment, because it allows the officer to experience what a blow actually feels like both on the giving end and the receiving end.

During partner training, RedMan accessories such as practice batons can be used for doing “touch drills” that show the officers where the target areas are on their opponents’ bodies. The Striking Shield is another useful accessory; although it’s technically a prop, it can be added to the training program at this level because a partner is needed to hold it.  Furthermore starting with this level, students begin to get the confidence they need to believe their techniques will work.

4) Dynamic Movement Training

The fourth level is Dynamic Movement Training, and protective equipment is clearly needed at this level because anytime students start to move around in training, they increase the chance of falling down. When this movement becomes more “dynamic”, the chance of injury from falling goes up dramati¬cally. RedMan Equipment can be very useful here in protecting officers from moderate impact blows and to protect them from falling or bumping into parts of the training environment.

5) Relative Positioning Training

Level five is Relative Positioning Training. This level introduces the officers to all the strange positions they’re going to find themselves in when they’re actually on duty. Officers don’t often just remain standing facing their adversaries. They may end up crouching, kneeling, sitting, lying in a prone position or every possible combination in between. The RedMan equipment is excellent for protecting officers in all these positions, as well as falls that often accompany this type of training. Here again protecting the head, body, elbows and knees with RedMan equipment proves to be very helpful in pig injuries from falling; the RedMan elbows and knees are also useful in reducing soreness from drills like ground defense where officers often spend extended time on elbows and knees.

6) Environmental Factor Training

The sixth level is Environmental Factor Training. Here the officers practice in settings that simulate their actual duty assignments whether it’s a street scene, the correctional setting, or aboard a naval vessel for the Coast Guard. Being in the actual duty environment is one of the best ways to train because students are able to experience “first hand” how well the techniques they are practicing will function when needed for subject control.

Even when the simulation is relatively “static” in nature, protective gear should be worn at this level and the duty environment should be padded, because there’s always the danger of injury from blows and also from sharp edges in the environmental setting. For these drills, it’s even more important for safety officers to stay close and to “physically” monitor the activities.  During these simulations, the instructor often adds various obstructions, like the clutter of a domestic scene, a close quarters confrontation on a staircase, or a low light situation, and these obstructions add to the realism of the exercise.

7) High Level Simulation Training

The final level is High Level Simulation Training. With the other six levels, the officer focused on one technique at a time, or on a few prearranged techniques. High level simulations force the officers to choose among several options and to help develop their decision making skills.  At any given time, an officer has to make a choice that determines what happens next during the training drill. These choices add to the complexity of the drill, and because of this, the instructor has to closely supervise the training to prevent injury to everyone involved. During these exercises, the demonstrator would be in a full suit while the students would be wearing partial suits. These high level simulation drills have to be carefully de¬signed, choreographed, and implemented in order to reduce the possibility of injury.

This is the top level of the simulation training and should be conducted only after the officers involved in the training have successfully completed all the lower levels. Remember if you don’t have enough time to adequately prepare the officers in your class for high level simulations, utilize the modular approach to training, breaking it down into sections and doing it on different days. We all know that high level simula¬tions are the “fun part” of defensive tactics training, but if you don’t prepare your students properly for these exercises, you could have confusion and possible injuries that will place your entire “hands on” training program in jeopardy. Take the time to do it right even though it will take longer to do it. It’s worth it.