Does Competing Hurt Your Training?

Dave Leverich

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But, can't competition also give you a false sense of security as well? Lets look at it in context, competition rewards you for technical ability & hardwork. A criminal assault (AKA self-defense situation) is intently focused on rewarding the winner & the winner is who gets to keep your wallet and teach. In a criminal assautl their on no rules and everything is stacled against you & it maybe a mix of psychological manipulation (mind games), psychological warfare (distracting your focus) & armed or unarmed conflict.
Oh completely, no argument there whatsoever. I think it depends on the type of competition, and the other training a person does. What I see competition can do is aid in the adrenalin, breathing, distancing, and not just plain 'freezing' in an altercation.

If you do contact (such as MMA) competition it can also help you not 'freak out' after taking damage, but remain calm and clear-headed. That could save your life. Again, this is on the premise does competition HURT your training, I say that it can augment your training.

The manipulation is to get into the criminals "kill zone" & the manipulation is to keep you from seeing the attack coming. No, competition on earth prepares you for that and no amount of sparring will prepare you for that.

Actually, getting them into the 'kill zone' is something that competition totally can help with. Distancing is one of the biggest factors in a conflict isn't it? If you're 40' apart, there isn't a conflict yet (unless he's firing a projectile ;p), but if you're 3' apart, you're inside striking range and a very different situation.

Avoiding them manipulating you to obscure the attack, that comes down to situational awareness and plain street smarts. That's teachable, but not competition side.

I think we need to define competition, I think of competition as competing in tournaments and similar where as sparring is an inner school event & not an interschool event. As far as that goes I agree with you.

No argument there, for sure. I do think almost all kinds of competition has positive aspects that you can glean from though (some more than others obviously).

Even the often belittled stop & go point sparring: Phenomenal use of distance and timing.
Dog brothers combative sparring: Where to start, awesome! But yes, they use unrealistic safety equipment, why? Because if they didn't they wouldn't have sparring partners anymore.
World Combat League: Great distance, conditioning, but not 'street'. Yet I'd put money on any of them vs your average joe mugger (obviously not if the mugger is one of the later mentioned MMA convicts).
MMA: I absolutely love MMA, you can probably tell by my avatar (me on 10/24/09). I find currently that MMA gives me the best combination of many arts in a competitive situation. I find it gives all that most of the above do, and more. Complete range of unarmed combat. Yes, it doesn't include weapons but then again, the fighters do have to walk away from it.

Here is the problem, when your talking SD your not talking about MA Vs MMA or TMA Vs Sport or what have you. You are talking you versus the criminal; and most criminals a) attack those weaker then them and/or b) if the reward is worth it, stack the deck in their favor.

Your training means what in that context? Most criminals were the first to catch on to the MMA craze with the first UFC & while allot of them don't get formal training, or little formal training & those who do are well organized into paramilitary gangs. There are several "Jail House MAs" in existance...

52 Blocks: A Mix of African MA that uses knees and elbows & Western Boxing plus Greco-Roman Wrestling taught to members of the Black Guerilla Family & used by many Black Only Gangs.
Jail House Rock: A mix of various MAs with Old School Judo & Karate based Military Hand-to-Hand Combatives & small teams warfare as a base. Plus anything anyone can add to the mix as improvements. Was founded by the Aryan Brotherhood to teach self-discpline & arm their "soldiers" with fight small teams. Created because of BGFs organization and training of Black Prisoners and Gang Members under socialist ideologies.

So lets see, your going to deal with either a trained, fit (most criminals spend their time working out when locked up) & intent anti-social individual focus on the goal of taking whats yours and maybe making an example of you. Who has also prepared the battle field ahead of time. Or, a young punk trying to work his way up the totem pole. The point, is that NO TRAINING is gonna prepare you for that unless it focuses specifically on that. Believing your proven ability in context prepares you outside of that context is not logical or sound thinking.

However that said, I'll put my money on the guy who spars more so then the guy who doesn't in those conditions because it may give them a slim advantage.

Honestly, if you get attacked by an ex-con prisoner who has trained MMA, you damned well better have at least an equal arsenal to combat that. If you don't, you're done. Again that comes back to being as prepared as you physically can. Those kinds of people I tend to avoid as if my life depends on it, although not all ex-cons are those kinds of people either.

What kind of mental conditioning goes into competition and how does that relate to self-defense?

For myself, it's the calm of conflict. I mean quite literally remaining calm and collected, I've seen people 'freak out' in competition of all kinds and it _never_ bodes well for them. They don't ever pull off some miracle stunt and win, they always lose. In a real situation where someone is attacking or going to attack, that could be fatal for you or a loved one.

Again there is a huge gap here, what way competitions do offer for "a more life-like situation?"
Whats the difference between training via sparring and the need for competition?

What I find is that while I might 'give in' during class (whether that be TKD, Escrima, MMA, BJJ etc) or not go 'all out' due to not just blasting someone with less ability or letting them have their turn etc... in competition I won't. So it allows me to dial it up a notch, if that makes sense?

So I'm able to do those specific combinations and moves with a higher intensity than I could against say little Johnny (the proverbial student right heh).

I mean, yourself, you can't go blast your students with full speed or ill-intent and crippling power right? You wouldn't have a school left, and most likely be in a 6x6 cell with the aforementioned gentlemen for assault. So, certain competition could give you an avenue to work on timing at full power, again it depends on if you're talking 'monkey steals peach' or jab/cross/duck-under/hook/choke etc. Obviously you can't work on some things live, but every system has things you can work at, under duress, against a live opponent who is fully resisting.

Back to the what it offers, I think it's the 'dialed up' competition. The increased risk etc.

Only if you can prove the context of training competition reflectx anything in real life more then simple sparring.

How well have you looked?
Jim Wagner Conflict Scenario Training
PoliceOne.com Replication training, the next generation of scenario-based training
Sombo Self-Defense: Scenario Training
I actually do glean quite a bit from Sambo. Reilly (out of NYCS) and I talk regularly. Sambo to me is a treasure trove of knowledge from a previous mostly ignored source.

Quite honestly, sparring based scenario training is very common in RBSD and proven by experts in psychology, sociology & military/LEO training planners. Competitions lack those and do not even attempt to be based on real world SD challenges (I'd love to see one that did) but it won't happen. Much like the "90% of all fights go to the ground" line, saying competition is as real as it gets is just advertising turned blamket ideology.

I think competition can be good for everyone, but I don't think it relates well in self-defense. Course I also think allot of SD training is based on self-defense fantasy as well.
I couldn't agree more on sparring based scenario training. I think it's wonderful, but the thread asked if competition HURT your training. I find that it helps, physically and mentally. Obviously not all aspects, but it has augmented my training greatly and I know I'm much more able to defend myself due to it.

I guess I find that most of the 'we dont spar' type rhetoric comes from those who don't seem like they COULD spar. I don't think that's the case with those involved in this discussion, but I have seen many who either claim the techniques are 'too deadly', or just it's not safe, to spar. I personally have found that to not hold much water. Again, NON-weapon situation sparring (although yes I do spar with sticks etc, Largo mano is a blast).

I don't think we can safely have any 'real' competition that simulates all areas of combat, but some kinds have come as close as we can so far. Obviously we can't have a 'street fight' in the cage, for even having the cage would change the outcome and circumstances. Not to mention the lawsuits ;).

Thank you much for a good discussion by the way Draven, I appreciate it.
Ps. If I've missed any points you wanted me to address, let me know, or anything we want to look at more thoroughly.

Boils down to competition for me aids with: distancing/range, emotional stability/calmness in conflict, ability to take physical punishment and continue fighting/defending, awareness of impact upon an opponent (I hadn't covered that, but cause/effect of striking them), I'm sure there are more points but that's the gist.
 

Dave Leverich

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You're right...it depends on the kind of competition. Would you say the UFC prepares one for a real conflict?
Only if that conflict is in a roughly octogonal shaped cage with a ref and no weapons and a set of rules heh.

Honestly though, that kind of training can physically aid someone in a real conflict to a great degree. Mentally as well, but I covered that in my wall-o-text, er last post.

But no, it doesn't address all aspects, it's a controlled scenario.
 

Dave Leverich

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zDom brought up an interesting though I hadn't even considered... poomse competition. Honestly, it might give you some benefit, perhaps 'nerves'? But I hadn't even considered that side of competition :).

Another issue though, UFC is an organization that has MMA matches, not it's own style. There are quite a few of such orgs, it's just the kind of 'GM' of them. Pride FC, IFL (rip), Elite XC (rip), King of the Cage, Dream, Strikeforce, all kinds of them out there (sometimes with varying rule sets).

Ps. I don't hurt people for fun, I consider it a competition with just a much higher level of contact and possibility. My last one ended with a painless blood choke (RNC, Mata Leon, aka Sleeper Hold). I also have, and continue, to train and compete in traditional martial arts. I think each has it's place and I don't ever plan to stop learning.
 

ap Oweyn

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Hello, The way you train is the way you will fight....

True story....a Jutsui black belt compete in a Las Vegas MMa event...after wards....went to his car to go home couple of guys jump him to rob him....drop one atacker and put the other is a lock? ..the guy "tap out" the Jujsui let him go...ONLY TO GET STAB AND DIE! ...

Read Loran Christansan books- one of them tell you why he doesn't like his students to complete because of this sports training is a game only...fun...NOT realistic!

This happen twice to to cops in Canada and one in USA ...practice taking the gun away...than give it back in training...they practice really hard..

One day one cop face the gunman...took away his gun and give it back...in Canada the Cop die...2nd one ..his partner had to shoot the gunman who got his gun back....

Reflex- train for sporting or train for real? ...habits is hard to break!

Sport Martial arts? ....will teach you the wrong things...for the streets..!

Real fights is total chaos...NO rules, NO time outs, NO ref's, NO rest, ANYTHING GOES style of fighting- and anything around you can be use for a weapon or the other will use them first?

Which way to train one minds? ...be more REAL!

Aloha, ...the way you train? ...will be the way you fight...!

PS: Most people CANNOT..make adustments for both...Adrenlin affects will cause this...!

Any links to the news stories for these?
 

Draven

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Actually, getting them into the 'kill zone' is something that competition totally can help with. Distancing is one of the biggest factors in a conflict isn't it? If you're 40' apart, there isn't a conflict yet (unless he's firing a projectile ;p), but if you're 3' apart, you're inside striking range and a very different situation.

Avoiding them manipulating you to obscure the attack, that comes down to situational awareness and plain street smarts. That's teachable, but not competition side.

Actually I had a dumb grunt moment when thinking "kill zone" (becausde i'm thinking of that area where force is concentrate within the line of fire for an ambush) but you give me a good example to work here. See when you're thinking is psychological manipulation you're thinking the usual trash talk that sometimes comes with competition or out of those with something to prove. And it can, but at the time I'm thinking more of more sociable interaction with an alterior motive.

Classic situation, I've seen many times is the criminals will use a female to bait a mark and get him to take her home. At home the criminals "mug" the couple & get away. The girl is used to bait & switch the mark, to convince him to submit to the criminals to protect the girl. Who gives the police conflicting information or convinses the mark to not call 911 & makes up a excuse to break contact and disappear with a share of the marks cash. Its been a common scam ran on the local college guys & they always seem to fall for it. Street smarts isn't something often already available to MA students, especially the younger crowd lol

I mean, yourself, you can't go blast your students with full speed or ill-intent and crippling power right? You wouldn't have a school left, and most likely be in a 6x6 cell with the aforementioned gentlemen for assault. So, certain competition could give you an avenue to work on timing at full power, again it depends on if you're talking 'monkey steals peach' or jab/cross/duck-under/hook/choke etc. Obviously you can't work on some things live, but every system has things you can work at, under duress, against a live opponent who is fully resisting.

Actually, I do. Well within reason my training platform is progressive; I start off with non-resistance learning, the partial resistance training phase and the full contact practice phase. I extend the training progression to full contact training in street cloths, simulated attacks (scenario drills which mix scenario training with full contact sparring) in street cloths & under "street conditions" with minimum padding (sport jujitsu gloves, mouth guards & head gear) and finally move into more extreme stuff like sparring multiple opponents under stated conditons and sensory deprivation & sensory hyper stemulation exercises.

No Monkey Steals Peach, eye gouges or ripping hearts out of chests but a progression of basic fighting techniques under common conditions to additional sets of techniques and skill sets under more extreme conditions. I don't get many high level students (most are military or LEO) but I have allot people who tell me they learn more in two years with me then they got out of 5 to 7 years to get a black belt somewhere else. My goal is something altogather different, I want to create a truly scientificly based MA.

I guess I find that most of the 'we dont spar' type rhetoric comes from those who don't seem like they COULD spar. I don't think that's the case with those involved in this discussion, but I have seen many who either claim the techniques are 'too deadly', or just it's not safe, to spar. I personally have found that to not hold much water. Again, NON-weapon situation sparring (although yes I do spar with sticks etc, Largo mano is a blast).

Oh God yes... I've heard that way too much myself from allot of people.

I don't think we can safely have any 'real' competition that simulates all areas of combat, but some kinds have come as close as we can so far. Obviously we can't have a 'street fight' in the cage, for even having the cage would change the outcome and circumstances. Not to mention the lawsuits ;).

Actually I'm working on such a competition idea, basicly MMA rules (a bit loser and I plan to get past the Unifide MMA Rules by adding aditional padding; add head gear), will involve "street cloths," & will take place on varried platform picked via lottery; standard cage, sand pit, slicked floors, forrested (plastic trees), rain, fog or disco (lighting effects to cause disorientation). Perhaps add some WWE (I know) trash talk at the beginning of the match for the purpose of allowing that added posturing/headgame element to be involved.

Thank you much for a good discussion by the way Draven, I appreciate it.
Ps. If I've missed any points you wanted me to address, let me know, or anything we want to look at more thoroughly.

I very much enjoyed this discussion myself, I think we are generally on the same page. My only issues with competition as far as hurting someone in SD is the lack of psychological conditioning & even the wrong psychological outlook it can create. But, that can be easily fixed with a little less focus on competition and little more focus on those issues. As you said earily they are not mutually exclusive ideas.
 
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Only if that conflict is one on one and no weapons are involved. But it still prepars the body and mind for combat, yes.

Only if that conflict is in a roughly octogonal shaped cage with a ref and no weapons and a set of rules heh.

Honestly though, that kind of training can physically aid someone in a real conflict to a great degree. Mentally as well, but I covered that in my wall-o-text, er last post.

But no, it doesn't address all aspects, it's a controlled scenario.

Agreed, and I did make a point of addressing the conditioning in my OP. I think though, that this is what the other group is talking about...the fact that while those perks are gained, the fact that they're competing with a rule set vs. no rule set, is where they're going to run into issues.

Good discussion. Thanks to both of you for your input. :)
 

tshadowchaser

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Competition against people you do not normally train with lets dose give benefits even if rules are involved. If you want no rules you have to take it to the street
 
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This was brought up by a few people...Dave, Draven and myself, but wasn't expanded upon, due to the fact that it would've sidetracked the thread. However, at this time, I'd like to touch on that area, and take the thread in a different direction.

The subject of scenario training was brought up. Personally, I think this is good, as it takes you out of the normal mindset, so to speak, and puts you in one that is less familiar and more unpredictable.

I've also heard many people (not necessarily anyone here) that unless you compete or have a record, then how do you know that what you're doing, will actually work? Now, I do find this interesting, because I know many people who don't or no longer compete, but have successfully defended themselves, so I'm not sure how that statement comes into play, or really holds any weight.

I know anytime discussions of this nature come up, people always talk about 'the deadly' strikes that they'd do. Now, personally, I usually cringe when I hear that, because while the 'dirty' shots are important tools to have in your box, if those are the only tools that you have to rely on, then IMHO, those people need to re-evaluate their training. So, for example...when we talk about ground fighting, someone will always say that they're just poke the grappler in the eye. And thats a perfectly legit thing to do, but I'd be more inclined to say that in addition to that, perhaps having an understanding of some basic grappling would be a good thing too. :)

Thoughts?
 

Brother John

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While reading various forums, I often come upon discussions in which SD and competing come into play. One group says that anytime you engage in a sport, ie: competing, that in the long run it'll hurt you, as far as being able to defend yourself goes. The other group begs to differ and states that competing is good, that people who compete can easily seperate the 2, ie: SD and sport, that they're often better conditioned both physically and can often take a hit better than most.

Now, I do not compete. I do tip my hat to those that do. If we look at those that do compete, we do see guys that're much better conditioned. Sure, we'll see the handful of out of shape guys, but the majority are in pretty good shape. I do feel that it is possible, if trained properly, to do both and be capable of seperating the 2 when need be. Those that train just sport, well, IMO, I think that while some of what they do would be valid, I think that the other stuff could end up getting them hurt or worse.

My personal belief is that Competition and Self Defense are two seperate things that share only a few comon elements. I believe that their differences outweigh their commonalities. So, if you focus your training on one, you'll be deficient in the other. IF your training focuses on one, it hampers the other.

I believe that 'competition' can be added as one element amongst many and NOT hurt a persons ability to defend themself, but it's not something that will further that goal either. I think that many people are mistaken in believing that they can train to improve their sparring and that THAT constitutes training to improve their ability to survive a REAL street altercation as well. I disagree. I think it only serves to make one better at sparring and little else. However, if done right, sparring can improve your overall training...so long as 'victory in the ring' isn't the goal, but simply to be used as ONE training tool.

Your Brother
John
 

zDom

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I think that many people are mistaken in believing that they can train to improve their sparring and that THAT constitutes training to improve their ability to survive a REAL street altercation as well. I disagree. I think it only serves to make one better at sparring and little else.

But John, it CAN.

Before martial art training, I could scrap as well as the next guy, but there was one thing that I was very concerned about: HOW do I get close enough to smack HIM without HIM smacking ME first as he sees me coming in?

(We in martial arts refer to this as "bridging the gap," of course)

During the (relatively rough!) "point style" sparring practice we did in class as I was coming up through the ranks (continuous, not breaking for points), I got hours and hours and HOURS of training in exactly that: bridging the gap to get my strikes in while at the same time trying NOT to walk into something.

Because I spent time mixing it up with skilled black belts (very good at blocking, avoiding, counterattacking), I have become very VERY accurate and precise with my striking.

Because we were playing somewhat rough, when I got my bell rung by a sucker punch by some street punks outside of a Taco Bell, it was no big deal to take it to them (all six of them...) because I was VERY used to exchanging blows while in that dreamy "been hit HARD" state — I know that place, fought in that state of mind enough times that it is familiar territory.

I've found that facing untrained street fighters (even those who fight on the street often) instead of skilled black belt strikers, these self defense situations have been EASY: much easier targets than I was used to.

I'm not saying you can count on all self defense situations on being as easy as mine ended up being — or that the next time I could find myself in a dire situation — but I am saying that those were FAR from being unfamiliar territory. I was VERY WELL prepared by my in-school experience for self defense.

It is very much a mindset. When I would get hit in the dojang, I would fight through it: "They WON'T stop to make sure I'm all right on the street" I would tell myself.

If you want to play nice in the dojang and its all fun and games, yea — you are probably going to be in for a big surprise if you ever have to defend yourself.

But I was serious about my goal — self defense — and it has paid off for me so far. It didn't take a cage match to prepare ME.

YMMV.
 
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But John, it CAN.

Before martial art training, I could scrap as well as the next guy, but there was one thing that I was very concerned about: HOW do I get close enough to smack HIM without HIM smacking ME first as he sees me coming in?

(We in martial arts refer to this as "bridging the gap," of course)

During the (relatively rough!) "point style" sparring practice we did in class as I was coming up through the ranks (continuous, not breaking for points), I got hours and hours and HOURS of training in exactly that: bridging the gap to get my strikes in while at the same time trying NOT to walk into something.

Because I spent time mixing it up with skilled black belts (very good at blocking, avoiding, counterattacking), I have become very VERY accurate and precise with my striking.

Because we were playing somewhat rough, when I got my bell rung by a sucker punch by some street punks outside of a Taco Bell, it was no big deal to take it to them (all six of them...) because I was VERY used to exchanging blows while in that dreamy "been hit HARD" state I know that place, fought in that state of mind enough times that it is familiar territory.

I've found that facing untrained street fighters (even those who fight on the street often) instead of skilled black belt strikers, these self defense situations have been EASY: much easier targets than I was used to.

I'm not saying you can count on all self defense situations on being as easy as mine ended up being or that the next time I could find myself in a dire situation but I am saying that those were FAR from being unfamiliar territory. I was VERY WELL prepared by my in-school experience for self defense.

It is very much a mindset. When I would get hit in the dojang, I would fight through it: "They WON'T stop to make sure I'm all right on the street" I would tell myself.

If you want to play nice in the dojang and its all fun and games, yea you are probably going to be in for a big surprise if you ever have to defend yourself.

But I was serious about my goal self defense and it has paid off for me so far. It didn't take a cage match to prepare ME.

YMMV.

I agree with both you and John here. I think that while there are aspects from competing that can benefit SD, such as whats already been mentioned, I do think that to assume that all aspects of competing will be all thats needed is doing more harm than good. I'll point once again to the Fight Quest episodes. While their prior conditioning did help them, there were times when they (Jimmy and Doug) both commented that the mindset, ie: fighting like you train, did hinder them at times.
 

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I agree with both you and John here. I think that while there are aspects from competing that can benefit SD, such as whats already been mentioned, I do think that to assume that all aspects of competing will be all thats needed is doing more harm than good. I'll point once again to the Fight Quest episodes. While their prior conditioning did help them, there were times when they (Jimmy and Doug) both commented that the mindset, ie: fighting like you train, did hinder them at times.

Hello...

I fully agree... It is like Ikbana. (flower arrangeing) The "why" you do it is most important. If it is as "art" you will go about it differently. If it is about competition/earning a living, your "arrangements" will change to meet those goals. If it is for practical application, (placement in a specific way or place) it will be different again. But all of the "basics" of Ikbana apply to all. That is about it, though.

There is not one answer to all application. I think the ability to adapt to a given situation, in a fluid way, is very important. I think knowing why you practice an art or discipline is helpful as well. These days there is little "extra" time, it seems. Good to remain focused on your interests and goals. First you must be able to identify those goals. There is no simple answer here.

Martial practice and study means different things to different practitioners. Those who know just want they want have an advantage. Those who know what they want, and HOW to get it, have the greatest advantage.

Interesting topic. Thank you.
Milt G.
 

kingkong89

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Competing can hurt you as far as being able to defend yourself only if you let it. You have to remember that there is a difference in tournament fighting and real life street fighting. Competing helps you as far as being able to hone your skills but thats all they are good for as long as you remember that it is to only help improve your skills then youll be fine
 
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