19 January 2010

Practicalities and Realities from the Blogosphere

There has been some really interesting posts in the martial arts and self defence area of the blogosphere lately and I wanted to mention them here for the readers of Low tech Combat.

Firstly, Mark from MarksTraining has written an excellent post comparing self defence and fighting skills and discussing if aptitude in one means you have aptitude in the other automatically, plus more.

And I quote from his post:
You can be the best fighter in the world. You can have the best grappling, the strongest and fastest punches, kicks that can knock anybody out, and a self belief attitude that can never be shaken. Does this mean that you are an expert in self defense? No. Does it mean that you have a basic level of self defense skills? Maybe.
So accurate. Self defence, well at least complete self defence across the Full Spectrum of Low Tech Combat, involves so much more than just fighting skills.
And developing solid fighting skills against a trained opponent is quite an in depth and lengthy process to get to a good level. Just ask any top MMA fighter.

Exclusively participating in only fight training such as boxing, Muay Thai, MMA or wrestling can also develop bad habits. It can be easy to forget that often, weapons are used on the street. Of those, knife attacks are the most common unless you are living in the US where firearms are the most common.

Fighters and Bad Street Habits

Also, it is common that there are more than one attacker. Even some token one-against-two sparring is not enough because facing three or more attackers is more common than facing just two attackers. Already we can see that doing even some solid combat sport training is not enough and can develop habits which may put the fighter at a distinct disadvantage or into a bad situation.

Now I love systems such as MMA and submission wrestling, do participate in it, and feel they are the very best base system to study because of the effectiveness of these systems and the Aliveness. But other things need to be built onto this very solid foundation. It is just that these other areas which Mark mentions need to be mentioned and considered.

Mark goes on to say:
An elderly granny may have more self defense skills than a trained fighter.
I'm sure Mark isn't saying that all fighters have no self defence skills, he is simply referring to someone who only absorbs those skills taught at his fight gym. A typical young man will mostly not even be concerned with awareness or avoiding conflict because he has no concerns for getting into 'fights', because he trains so hard and has reached a certain level of competence.

Old Lady vs Young Fighter
Where as the old lady is very concerned with getting into a physical encounter. She will generally never go out at night or to areas where she knows there is a higher risk of becoming the victim of an attack. She will also be more likely to lock her doors and windows at home and in her car. She will cross the road to avoid something that doesn't quite look right up ahead.

This places the trained fighter into a higher risk group of being involved in an attack or encounter than the old lady.I found marks post very interesting. There is indeed more to self defence than having solid fighting skills, one on one, unarmed.

Martial Arts Scepticism

Through reading the excellent Combat Hard blog I discovered a new interesting site called Club Chimera and a post about Martial Arts scepticism. In it, Jamie Clubb discusses how entire systems have been developed based upon simple assumptions and sceptisism of certain areas of other systems.

Jamie says:
...many self defence practitioners support the “log-jam” theory, where the superficial practice of too many combative techniques can overload and confuse a person when they are met with a stressful situation. Then there is the argument against fine motor skill techniques. Again, in a stressful situation when blood is leaving the brain to engage muscles it is more difficult to perform techniques that require a greater degree of accuracy and coordination. The use of the more aesthetically pleasing techniques such as high kicks, acrobatic moves, dramatic throws or complex locks are also generally dismissed as low percentage/high risk moves.
He goes into detail areas such as Traditional Martial Arts (TMA), Reality Based Self Defence (RBSD), and combat sport systems and how these systems are positioned as a solution to other inferior practises and systems.

For example, Jamie discusses RBSD and how it is promoted:
The message being conveyed is that these martial artists are the real deal. They teach the ugly side of violence as a means to deal with the ugliness that is real-life violence. And yet just how efficient are these “real” techniques?
Jamie then goes on to discuss biting, fish hooks and eye gauges in detail, in a critical light. He correctly points out the shortcomings of these techniques and that they are often not the panacea they are often touted as in some areas of the RBSD world.

What is interesting is that Jamie himself teaches RBSD and self protection and is simply looking at these areas critically (and many more in his article which is quite in-depth), in the pursuit of bettering its practise.

He says that:
Heavy trauma to the head or neck region through the hands preferably or constrictive strangulation or choking methods appear time and again to be people-stoppers. We have case studies galore both in the “real world” and in the sporting world.
It is a very well written, in-depth and interesting article.

Effective Knife Defence

I mentioned above how unless you live in the US, the knife is the most likely weapon you will face. I didn't mention it before, but in the US, the knife is the second most likely weapon you will face behind firearms. In line with that, Juggernaut has recently posted a short video and explanation about a knife defence approach being his Cover-Drop-Drive principle.

Juggernaut subscribes very much to the philosophy of having only a small number of techniques to choose for any particular attack or scenario. This will make it easier to formulate an effective response under pressure. I also subscribe to this philosophy.

When explaining his cover-drop-drive principle Juggernaut explains:
Again this stresses that having minimal responses to whatever you are confronted with makes it a lot easier to choose the correct response. As our response to virtually everything is to COVER-DROP-DRIVE, there is little need for thought.
His cover drop drive principle looks sound to me. It did take a couple of watches (its fine, its only a very short video), to fully understand what was being done as I havn't seen the manoeuvre before. The name of the principle and the video pretty much explain it better than I could by words alone. The one thing which may surprise some people is that Juggernaut is very much in favour of grappling as a way to control the knife attacker rather than just trying to control the weapon bearing limb with hands alone.

In the post, Juggernaut touches on the variations of this one principle and how it can apply to many types of attack as well as some examples of different techniques one can use when applying this principle.

I'm a very keen reader and student of Juggernauts stuff and I recommend everyone pop over to his blog and check out some of his posts.

Self Defence is Simple

Another new site I came across is one written by Rick Vargas. He recently wrote a post about simplicity in self defence and the martial arts.

In it, he raises a good point which is worthwhile bringing up from to time, that sometimes we can get bogged down a little and over analyse the area of self defence and the martial arts. He says that we just need to step back and look at things with fresh eyes.

Rick says:
Today I hear a lot of new jargon from a lot of guys who also don’t seem to train that much either.  They talk about “reality,” about “odds of going to the ground,” “adrenal stress,” “heightened awareness,” “physiological” this and that, etc.  I hear more talk about “the brain” and “neurons” from martial artists and self defense experts than I do from my scientist son.  I see sales pitches that make it seem like learning self defense is a PhD dissertation.
It’s not that complicated.  Some simple physical instruction, and clues on what to watch for are plenty for most non professionals.

I agree that things can be complicated and we always need to hold onto the simple solutions. They are often the ones that work in real time anyway. I do think talk of the "odds of going to the ground" and "adrenal stress" are very important but we need to remember that we are talking about being able to avoid trouble, and if required, to absolutely destroy another human being in order to survive. It is a very basic and simple concept, yet evolving.

So while I may not agree totally with what I think Rick is trying to say, I do feel that it is important to keep things in check and as simple as possible.

Conclusion

As a wrap this post up, I just want to mention that my interpretation of what the above writers were trying to say in their posts may be very different than what the authors intent was. Any views mentioned here are my own as I have not consulted with them prior to posting here.

I found the above posts particularly interesting and all relating to practical self defence, self protection, whatever you want to call it. I hope you enjoyed them.

Image by JWNOWS

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