How important is full contact for self defense?

Joab

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Lousy title, I apologize, but sometimes it is hard to fit an idea into a title. The question really is, how important is full contact training for preparing oneself for self defense? There is a school of thought that I think quite logically states that you need full contact so you get used to taking blows should a self defense emergency arise. There seems to be a concensus that normally when you are attacked you will get hit, hence if you arn't used to taking blows you won't be hardened or tough or prepared enough to take a blow should you be hit when somebody attacks.

Than there is a school of thought that states that what really works in a self defense emergency is too dangerous for full contact. That to train or spar full contact using techniques that "really work" would result in the practitioners being maimed or killed every class. That would of course be completely unacceptable.

What do I think? Well, I'm kind of confused to be honest. I think there are merits in both arguements. So I ask those who know more, what do you think?
 

Empty Hands

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Put it this way: it can't possibly hurt. It will prepare you better than not having full contact. Full contact obviously isn't completely necessary, you can still defend yourself without it. But you will do better if you have that training - your odds will be increased.
 

Omar B

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Getting hit is an integral part of learning self defense. Training against static opponents might give you great form but getting punched in the nose in class prepares you not to freak out when it actually happens. I've seen people get hit and suddenly their form goes to crap and they look totally out of sorts, learning to take a heavy blow instils a composure that you need on the street.
 

celtic_crippler

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Just a couple of things it teaches....

It conditions you to take a hit; otherwise, you'd probably freeze the first time you actually did get hit and hesitation will get you killed.

It teaches you timing and distance with an active opponent.

It helps you recognize holes in your defense.
 

FearlessFreep

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It's a continuum, not a dichotomy.

The more 'injurious' the attack the less realistic the training. Bites and Eye Gouges? Fake it the best you can. Punches and Kicks? Pad up to your acceptance level and go for it.. Wrist locks and arm bars? To the point where you know pressure is being applied but not to the point where you cause damage

As we say in the school "Protect And Respect" (followed by "As you Give, so shall you Receive")
 
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Joab

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Good points all. There are those proponents of non contact self defense who maintain that sparring is actually detrimental because it conditions your mind to use non maiming and lethal moves, and that wearing pads leads to a sort of false mindset regarding how hard blows will feel when your hit without pads.

I think though that overall it is a good idea to take some blows to get used to it, even if blows to the windpipe, gouges to the eyes, kicks to the knee, etc. would be prohibited, otherwise when you do get hit you won't be used to it and might freeze up, freak out and the like. But it needs to be very controlled so it doesn't get out of hand and somebody doesn't get really hurt or killed in class.
 

tallgeese

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Heavy contact should be part of every curriculum if it's sd based. Now, proper protective gear should be used and a monitor outside the conflict needs to kind of ref the bout to make sure everyone's taken care of.

This kind of thing, especially when done against scenario based attacks, can get really intense. Even sparring at high levels needs to be monitored by an outside man.

Now, it does not need to be every night, and couldn't be if done properly. But it's an invaluable tool for prepping both mentally and physically for real world encounters.
 

Skpotamus

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If you're not using contact, then you're not training against a realistic attack. If your partner isn't trying to hit you, then you're going to create bad habits that could get you killed when someone throws a real attack your way. After all, how can you be sure your defense is going to work unless it's really defending a realistic attack? A partner that punches over your shoulder, or stops the punch before it lands isn't getting you ready for that guy who punches right at your nose.

Included with contact needs to be a lack of forewarning as to what attack is coming. If you are defending against a right punch for example, and start off light, then build up to your partner throwing the punch full force, you're getting the technique down, but you're still missing out on the diagnostic portion where you determine what your opponent is attacking with. If your defense for that right punch requires you to move before the opponent punches, what do you do if he kicks? Or tries to tackle you? It's easy to defend a full power attack if you know what is coming before hand. The lack of spontanaiety doesn't lend itself well to applying your skills in a real world environment.

Basically, what most schools I've seen do is start off with light attacks, with no real power, speed or intent so students can get used to the techniques and movement. Then they build up some speed and power with the attacks. Most stop there. IMHO, what they need to do is open the SD training to include some verbal components to simulate a real world encounter, then let the attacker do whatever attack they want. The student tries to pick up visual cues from body movement, angles, and position to determine which attack is coming, then defend against it. The lack of knowing what attack is coming, from what angle, what target, etc is the hardest part about applying your martial arts skills outside of the dojo.

My general guidelines for self defense training:
If you aren't getting hit, you're not training for real and if looks good, your partner is being too nice.

Now, think of this type of training as the finishing touch to your masterpiece. It's the leap from your technical preparation in the dojo, to the stark reality of street violence. Get your technique learned with light contact, increase the intensity until it's all out, then make it a random attack. Use padding as appropriate and most importantly, leave your ego in the gym bag.

YMMV
 

still learning

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Hello, YES and NO....

"Yes"... because you will learn "true" experience of (almost) real fighting, with rules.

NO..because today you will lose lots of students (NOT showing up for classes)....and everyone can learn with less contact...1/2, 1/3, 1/4 power hits...

How important is full contact for training....the more, you get..better you will learn what works and what doesn't.....

On a scale of weights? ....4870 lbs. or 21 coconut trees ( hawaiian measurements). If using birds- 4 eagles, and one turkey...

Aloha,
 

still learning

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Hello, YES and NO....

"Yes"... because you will learn "true" experience of (almost) real fighting, with rules.

NO..because today you will lose lots of students (NOT showing up for classes)....and everyone can learn with less contact...1/2, 1/3, 1/4 power hits...

How important is full contact for training....the more, you get..better you will learn what works and what doesn't.....

On a scale of weights? ....4870 lbs. or 21 coconut trees ( hawaiian measurements). If using birds- 4 eagles, and one turkey...

Aloha,

PS: Turkey is 12lbs only....NOT 15
 

sgtmac_46

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I guess it really depends on how well you want to be able to defend yourself........if very well, then full contact is important.....if so-so, then it's not that important at all.
 

sgtmac_46

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Getting hit is an integral part of learning self defense. Training against static opponents might give you great form but getting punched in the nose in class prepares you not to freak out when it actually happens. I've seen people get hit and suddenly their form goes to crap and they look totally out of sorts, learning to take a heavy blow instils a composure that you need on the street.

Exactly! A good question anyone should follow up with this initial question is this.....if we're expecting to defend ourselves, what do we believe the odd's are that we might just get sucker punched as a beginning of an attack?

If we look at real world self-defense situations, an unprovoked assault is often the beginning of the situation.......if we're to weather that initial assault, we need to know how to react appropriately (mentally AND physically) to getting hit, and not be overwhelmed by that.

Now, who is MOST likely to come through such an initial assault unscathed? A boxer with MUCH full contact training, or a Taekwondo practioner with none? Obviously the boxer, who has been hit, isn't going to be nearly as phased by the psychological or even physiological effects of getting punched as somehow who hasn't experienced it.
 

sgtmac_46

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Good points all. There are those proponents of non contact self defense who maintain that sparring is actually detrimental because it conditions your mind to use non maiming and lethal moves, and that wearing pads leads to a sort of false mindset regarding how hard blows will feel when your hit without pads.

I think though that overall it is a good idea to take some blows to get used to it, even if blows to the windpipe, gouges to the eyes, kicks to the knee, etc. would be prohibited, otherwise when you do get hit you won't be used to it and might freeze up, freak out and the like. But it needs to be very controlled so it doesn't get out of hand and somebody doesn't get really hurt or killed in class.

Yeah, I know......the 'My Art is FAR to LETHAL To Spar' school of thought.\

Bottom line is that you can still train those techniques and SPAR to get use to real fights, as you rightly point out.
 

Chris Parker

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Hi,

I feel that we need a few definitions here. What exactly do you mean by "full contact training"? In the original post the only phrase used was "full contact training for preparing oneself for self defense", but some have read into that the concept of sparring (I think celtic_crippler was the first here). Personally, I didn't read that in the original post, but you (Joab) appears to have taken the idea on as well. Which did you mean? I'll try to address both here, though.

First, with regard to non-sparring training, we need to establish what limitations and restrictions are being placed on the training. As Fearless Freep stated, you simply cannot train full contact with quite a variety of "self defence" techniques. For example, a full contact kick to the groin is not something I feel is required to understand it's power, and a good, hard kick to the side of the knee is potentially very damaging. So what are we defining as "full contact training"?

I personally feel that contact is very necessary, but "full contact" is not realistic in a training situation. So how do we train to get the most out of it, and keep the contact at a realistic and productive level? I'll give you some ideas as to how we do it. When it comes to training techniques (opponent attacks with punch "X", student responds with evasive footwork and block "Y", then counter strike/throw "Z"), there are a few different ways we train. These are soft/slow, hard/slow, and soft/fast. There is contact in all versions except occasionally the last. Each are trained for different reasons. Soft/slow is used to allow the student to get an understanding of the distance, targeting, balance and the finer points of making a techinque "work". Contact is firm, and each strike is performed completely. By that I mean that strikes are to target and go "through" the target, giving the student the penetration required. Next, hard/slow is trained in order to give a little more impact/contact, and resistance is brought in to the training. Oh, and resistance here is very different to that found in things such as MMA bouts and sparring, as the resistance found in a real fight is very different. But we'll get to that later.

Soft/fast is then used to work on timing (also worked on in previous training methods), and targeting under realistic speeds. Obviously at this point, contact becomes limited and protective equipment is worn. You may notice that I haven't mentioned hard/fast. That is done on impact equipment and in solo drills, not on a partner for (I hope) obvious reasons!

Contact is often half power or higher (depending on the target being struck!), giving the student the mindset of actually striking an opponent, as well as acting as a way of conditioning the one being struck. But what that doesn't cover is the emotional and psychological responces to being hit. For that we bring out protective equipment and hit the student. Hard. The student then performs a technique, or defends an attack, or other such training. We also utilise various RBSD drills, such as the "spinning" drill I have mentioned on another thread, which is a very good simulation of being hit hard with a sucker-punch, and then continuing through an assault.

Now to sparring. How are we defining "full contact" when it comes to sparring? Arts such as Kyokushin Karate are quite big proponents of "full contact" sparring and tournaments, but as we saw with the non-sparring version, a number of restrictions come into play. For example, there is no punching to the head (kicks are allowed), and obviously no striking below the belt. So if we are saying that full contact sparring gets you used to being hit in the head, does this cut it? How about if we remove the restrictions but use protective equipment, such as head guards and body armour? Is that full contact even if the effects of the blows are reduced due to what you are wearing?

This is all, of course, assuming that sparring is actually useful for self defence training in the first place... and I don't believe it is. In fact, it can be quite detrimental to your self defence capabilities. Most of my reasons are already on other threads, so there's no real need to go throught hem all here, but we'll cover a part of it at least.

There is only one self defence situation in which sparring is good preparation... and it isn't even a self defence situation when you think about it. That situation is known as a match fight. Essentially, this is when two people agree to fight at a certain place or time ("Hey, you! You want to take this outside?!"), and begins with the opponents "shaping up", and ends when one gives up, or someone steps in to end it (security, police, friends). This is quite rare. A more common situation would involve a group, weapons, and/or an ambush. Sparring doesn't prepare you for this at all.

Oh, and before anyone starts to bring up the usual arguments, yes Military units spar, yes the Marines spar as part of their MCMAP Program, but not for any realistic applications. They spar to engender an aggressive spirit in the soldiers, and to give a feeling of comraderie and competition, as well as because it's fun. In an interview, John Wills, the first Australian BJJ Black Belt under the Machados spoke about his experiences in the US. He was one of a number of martial art instructors invited to teach the Marines, and as a result found himself assisting in the creation of MCMAP. This is major reason BJJ is such a large component of the MCMAP program. But it was not for practical reasons. After all, rolling around on the ground with someone when in full kit when you have fireams and a knife available just doesn't make any sense. But out of the instructors invited to teach the Marines, John was one of the favourites, and the Marines really enjoyed what he taught. So it was incorporated, and to say that just because the Marines spar means that sparring is an effective training tool for real combat is to miss the point of why they spar in the first place. Hmmm, bit of a tangent there. You know what? I'm keeping it.

Now we need to get an understanding of just what "self defence training" actually is. Self defence training is/should be much more than just physical techniques. It needs to address much more than just "punch/kick/throw/choke". The idea of self defence is to give you the skills and ability to safely get home. That's it. Remember that sparring gives you one option: attack aggressively. But is that really the best option in a real self defence situation? Let's say there's a group looking for someone to beat up, say 5 guys who may or may not be armed (you don't know...). To rely on sparring tactics, if they come over to you and start to get aggressive, you attack. Or, is it better to be aware enough to see them coming, not be a "soft" target, or simply leave the situation? That should be part of a self defence system. How about someone who knocks into you in a bar, then starts yelling that you spilled their drink? Do you hit them, choke them out, get grabbed by security, arrested by the police and charged with assault? Or do you attempt to talk them down, and use restraint techniques if that fails? In each of these (and many more) scenarios, there is no contact, full or otherwise required in the training of them.

I said we would deal with the idea of "resistance", didn't I? A common thing heard is that MMA's big benefit is that it gets you used to dealing with "resisting" opponents. While thta is true, you are not dealing with resistance as you would in a real self defence situation. What I mean by that is that the resistance encountered in an MMA bout or sparring session is based on the idea of competition. In competition you have two people attempting to out-perform each other, so they are resisting specific techniques, and countering movements. This is not what you get in a real encounter. In a real encounter you do not have tow mutually aggressive opponents, you have an attacker (typically ambush) and a defender who is attempting to get away safely. Most typically, you have one person trying to hurt another. That person will resist things you do, but will often be more focused on attack than defence, so they will typically not be countering what you do, but may try to escape (say, if you grab them). In fact,if you start hitting them back, you may find that they give up. If focused on attack only, and not defence, then suddenly having to defend can be quite disorientating for an attacker. So resistance as understood in MMA/BJJ/Judo etc will often not actually be encountered in a fight. So that's good news.

So "full contact" for self defence (non-sparring)? No, that is just dangerous. And if it's not, then you're not looking at something based in what will keep you alive in a real encounter. But when training your techniques and your art, if you have no contact (and it should ideally be above the "comfortable" level), then you are deluding yourself just as badly.
 

Deaf Smith

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Put it this way: it can't possibly hurt.

Actually it can hurt quite a bit. Might even get KO'ed, or broken nose, teeth, hand, arm, etc...

Now I don't want to scare anyone off from full contact, but I do have a few scares from that stuff.

Oh, and do wear a cup. But even a cup won't stop everything.

As for full contact for self defense, any contact is better than none. And the closer you get to all out fighting, the more you understand the dynamics of it and get used to keep going after being hit.

But, I'd limit just how much force is allowed in your full contact and just who you spar. There are idiots and ego maniacs out there who just would love to put you on the ground just to show off to their friends.

Deaf
 

Skpotamus

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Here's a great example of not using contact in your training vs using contact in your training. The infamous Kiai Master Challenge Match. A Daitoryu Aikido master with "no touch" ko ability. He shows some training where he never touches his students or gets touched. During the first exchange with the MMA fighter, he gets punched in the mouth, puts his hand over his mouth and freezes for a few seconds, had teh mma fighter not been nice, it could've been a lot uglier than it was.


A better view of the fight itself
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jf3Gc2a0_8&feature=related

ok, so it's more of an example of stupidity than anything else, but it is fun to watch :)
 
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Omar B

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Actually it can hurt quite a bit. Might even get KO'ed, or broken nose, teeth, hand, arm, etc...
Now I don't want to scare anyone off from full contact, but I do have a few scares from that stuff.
Oh, and do wear a cup. But even a cup won't stop everything.
As for full contact for self defense, any contact is better than none. And the closer you get to all out fighting, the more you understand the dynamics of it and get used to keep going after being hit.
But, I'd limit just how much force is allowed in your full contact and just who you spar. There are idiots and ego maniacs out there who just would love to put you on the ground just to show off to their friends.
Deaf

What's wrong with getting a tooth knocked out of a nose broken? I never got how people get so hung up on stupid crap like that when your life could be at stake. In class I've chipped, cracked and knocked out teeth, broken my nose, cracked ribs, cracked knuckles. But the pain is apart of it. Used to be a time I always carried an ace bandage to class with me because I always pushed it and at some point in the week there would be a new injury ... guess that's why I smashed my knee at 16 right. Only thing is I've not been knocked out yet.

I think it's a bit of fear on the part of the student and the Coach's fear of gettign sured or loosing students that leads to these no-contact, soft classes where people think they are hot stuff but can't take a side kick to the gut and keep going.
 

pmosiun1

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Lousy title, I apologize, but sometimes it is hard to fit an idea into a title. The question really is, how important is full contact training for preparing oneself for self defense? There is a school of thought that I think quite logically states that you need full contact so you get used to taking blows should a self defense emergency arise. There seems to be a concensus that normally when you are attacked you will get hit, hence if you arn't used to taking blows you won't be hardened or tough or prepared enough to take a blow should you be hit when somebody attacks.

Than there is a school of thought that states that what really works in a self defense emergency is too dangerous for full contact. That to train or spar full contact using techniques that "really work" would result in the practitioners being maimed or killed every class. That would of course be completely unacceptable.

What do I think? Well, I'm kind of confused to be honest. I think there are merits in both arguements. So I ask those who know more, what do you think?

These is such things as progressive sparring and aliveness drill, you do not need to go full contact first time out. As long as you spar smartly with mouthguard and other protective equipment, you would be okay.

I believe that sport martial art such as boxing and brazilian jiu jitsu prepares you much more for self defense because they do aliveness drill and spar full contact. The problem with a lot of "too deadly to spar" mentality is that they give you a false sense of security.

It is like when you swim in the water pool and you saw a guy who practice on land, swimming drills. You would ask him why does he not go into the pool? He would answer that the water pool does not prepare him for the ocean with rough sea. You can clearly see the problem with these type of thinking.

You don't have to compete in sport martial art but as long in class you spar full contact and do aliveness drill, you would be more prepare to defend yourself than those that believe sparring is bad for you. A lot of people would be shock the first time they start boxing, if you are no longer shock at getting hit, you would be able to defend yourself under stress.
 

sgtmac_46

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Here's a great example of not using contact in your training vs using contact in your training. The infamous Kiai Master Challenge Match. A Daitoryu Aikido master with "no touch" ko ability. He shows some training where he never touches his students or gets touched. During the first exchange with the MMA fighter, he gets punched in the mouth, puts his hand over his mouth and freezes for a few seconds, had teh mma fighter not been nice, it could've been a lot uglier than it was.


A better view of the fight itself
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jf3Gc2a0_8&feature=related

ok, so it's more of an example of stupidity than anything else, but it is fun to watch :)


So the 'No Touch Knockout' doesn't worK?! SAY IT AIN'T SO JOE! The guy at 1:16 of the first video was hilarious! :lfao:

Seriously, do his students really go along with this because of some shared group psychosis......or are they just humoring the old man?

As to the 'match'......the MMA guy is like 'Are you alright, old man? Seriously.....do you want to sit down?' :lfao:
 
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