Sparring vs. Self Defense

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Warner Chappell has blocked 2 of your videos John?
 

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I was thinking about his recently and came across this video that is a pretty good illustration. This is not Wing Chun, but illustrates what I was thinking. I thought this might make a good topic for discussion.

Recently I had pretty much concluded that "traditional" arts just don't work well for real fighting. When you look at just about any "traditional" art when they try to spar or free-fight they often end up resorting to some variation of kickboxing and often don't look too much like their traditional training. You see this in Wing Chun, but also in a lot of other "traditional" arts.

But.....maybe I am defining "real fighting" inaccurately? Maybe equating it to a face-off exchange between two competitors is not the only way to define it?

Many "traditional" arts have a "self defense" orientation and are often geared towards working in that environment. And no doubt, defending your life is a "real" fight! But this won't always be a "give and take" exchange like a sparring match. It seems to me that very often the orientation of a "self defense" art is to respond to a committed attack, and to keep responding until the attack is neutralized. This is very different from standing in a "face off" situation and "feeling out" an opponent in a sparring match. Fighting in a sparring or competition context very often involves UNCOMMITTED attacks! Fast jabs from just out of range....probing low-line kicks.....baiting and feinting to drawn an opponent out. And responding to such probing attacks with your own uncommitted responses to avoid a counter....hence, the back and forth "give and take" kind of exchange develops. This is what we see almost any time people are sparring. But this isn't necessarily how things develop on the street, and isn't necessarily how things happened on the battlefields of days gone by.

Wing Chun has been described at times as an "ambush" art. This can imply responding to an ambush.....a surprise attack at close range that you defend against and counter quickly to neutralize the threat. Since it is close range and you want to keep it there until the attack is neutralized, Chi Sau skills come in very handy! There is no "squaring off" with the opponent to feel each other out with uncommitted probing attacks and half responses! And this can also imply launching the ambush! If you are a Wing Chun guy determined to take someone out you are going to do it at close range and with a barrage of fast strikes! It is NOT to your advantage to give the opponent and opportunity to back up and get out of close range where your Wing Chun is designed to work!

Here is the video I mentioned. This is Maul Mornie doing SSBD. I have had the honor of training with Maul and he is very impressive! But his videos have been criticized because he uses compliant partners and never shows any free-sparring. But again, his art was not designed for free-sparring and for the kind of fight you see in contests and sparring matches. His art was designed for fast and brutal self-defense. So it is really predicated upon someone making a committed attack that he can interrupt and disrupt and take control and finish the opponent. No "give and take" is intended! You just don't do this in a typical sparring match! At least not without regularly damaging your sparring partners! Check out this video where he shows how he would defend against a jab-cross. Now granted, Eric is not a boxer and not throwing that jab and cross very convincingly! But the point here is that Maul is going to stay just out of range until his attacker launches a committed blow and is not going to get into a free exchange at close range! I'm thinking Wing Chun was probably designed to be used in a similar way, and this is why people have a lot of trouble using the "traditional" version in a sparring scenario. It wasn't designed for a sparring scenario any more than SSBD was!


In the context of this thread, Sparring is like any other type of training. The habits you're trying to instill with training can either be an asset or a hindrance in a real life altercation. Knowing what to do and when to do it is an important component when discussing sparring and SD. Teaching point style sparring without combinations, power or three dimensional footwork can be problematic in a real life scenario for that's what you'll naturally resort to. However, training full-contact that allows some grappling will be much more beneficial in a real life altercation.
 

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But this won't always be a "give and take" exchange like a sparring match. It seems to me that very often the orientation of a "self defense" art is to respond to a committed attack, and to keep responding until the attack is neutralized. This is very different from standing in a "face off" situation and "feeling out" an opponent in a sparring match.

This is a really good point.
 

drop bear

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This is a really good point.

That is one of my major issues with self defense drilling though. This one sided ego beat down.

You really won't just keep going until the other guy is down. You will walk in to a shot and your whole momentum will get upset.
 

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That is one of my major issues with self defense drilling though. This one sided ego beat down.

You really won't just keep going until the other guy is down. You will walk in to a shot and your whole momentum will get upset

I was thinking the same thing.

Mr Attacker is mentally prepared, and he has the jump.

So why does he get ambushed with relentless attacks without responding?

I feel like the whole middle part where the garden gnomes tie his shoelaces together is missing.
 
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I was thinking the same thing.

Mr Attacker is mentally prepared, and he has the jump.

So why does he get ambushed with relentless attacks without responding?

I feel like the whole middle part where the garden gnomes tie his shoelaces together is missing.

Or.....Mr. Attacker is expecting an easy mark and when he meets determined (and skilled) resistance his resolve dissolves. I agree that some of the Kenpo-like things you see....as in the video that DB shared...where the defender is doing a scripted response of about 12 things, is not at all realistic. But what someone like Maul Mornie is often teaching in seminars is the initial response or entry, and then multiple ways to continue from the entry depending upon how the initial attacker reacts.
 

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That is one of my major issues with self defense drilling though. This one sided ego beat down.

You really won't just keep going until the other guy is down. You will walk in to a shot and your whole momentum will get upset.
A 20 hit combo is the least of your worries here lol. There was a lot of things that weren't applied correctly.

From what I've seen on self-defense seminar videos, most instructors don't factor the "what if scenarios." to answer: (maybe someone can speak differently from the experience of physically being in one.)
1. what happens if I get it wrong
2. what do I do if I get it wrong
3. what do to if the the attacker is able to defeat my attempts

I don't have to understand the language to visually see things not working out the way you initially plan and the need to be able to adjust accordingly.

Catching punches are also very difficult if the person isn't slowing down the punch will it's coming in and retreating. Just snatching a punch out of mid air is extremely difficult. The demos that show the "catch a punch" often do so at the fastest point of a punch, which is nuts to me.
 
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From what I've seen on self-defense seminar videos, most instructors don't factor the "what if scenarios." to answer: (maybe someone can speak differently from the experience of physically being in one.)
1. what happens if I get it wrong
2. what do I do if I get it wrong
3. what do to if the the attacker is able to defeat my attempts


---In a FMA/Kali context I have trained in a series of joint locks or a "lock flow." Here you go from one joint lock to another....going through maybe 8 or more locks! But the idea is that you try to apply one lock and it fails or the opponent resists....then the next lock in the series is the one you will most likely resort to...and if that one fails or the opponent resists...then the next lock in the series is the one you will most likely resort to....etc. Not that you would go through the entire series in a self defense situation, but if you find yourself applying one of the locks and it doesn't work....you instinctively flow into the next lock that is most likely to be needed. The things that Maul Mornie often teaches in seminars seem like a long series that wouldn't be likely to work. But he explains that if the opponent is out after the entry and initial counter, then you are done! But if that initial counter didn't end it, this is the next thing you will likely do, etc. Or often that initial counter is just a set up to position the opponent where you want them for the finishing move, etc. There is never the expectation that a series of 10 or more moves is every going to be used exactly that way in a real situation.


Catching punches are also very difficult if the person isn't slowing down the punch will it's coming in and retreating. Just snatching a punch out of mid air is extremely difficult. The demos that show the "catch a punch" often do so at the fastest point of a punch, which is nuts to me.

---Depends on how you train. Again, taking Maul Mornie's SSBD as an example, they drill a feed of strikes at various angles that are somewhat exaggerated so that a student gets used to quickly seeing the angle coming. You also learn to maintain a range that enables you enough reaction time to see what is coming. Then the defenses are more based on a "zone" defense rather than particular techniques. So you defend a "gate" or "zone" rather than trying to "catch" an attack. And when you defend you use the shoulder as reference point and move towards it so that you are automatically off-balancing the opponent and moving away from a follow up strike at the same time. Maul is very good at this and invites people at his seminars to launch random fast attacks at him....empty hand and training knife/sword.
 

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---Depends on how you train. Again, taking Maul Mornie's SSBD as an example, they drill a feed of strikes at various angles that are somewhat exaggerated so that a student gets used to quickly seeing the angle coming. You also learn to maintain a range that enables you enough reaction time to see what is coming. Then the defenses are more based on a "zone" defense rather than particular techniques. So you defend a "gate" or "zone" rather than trying to "catch" an attack. And when you defend you use the shoulder as reference point and move towards it so that you are automatically off-balancing the opponent and moving away from a follow up strike at the same time. Maul is very good at this and invites people at his seminars to launch random fast attacks at him....empty hand and training knife/sword.
This sounds like something you have been told and not actually able to do. I'm going to look up Maul Mornie's videos to see if there is one of him free sparring and doing this same thing. The Demo Invite of "Come up and try to hit me " is not the same as free sparring. People can do a lot of things in the context of a Demo that they can't do in free sparring.

I don't know who Maul Mornie is so I'm going to do some research on that first.
 

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Or.....Mr. Attacker is expecting an easy mark and when he meets determined (and skilled) resistance his resolve dissolves. I agree that some of the Kenpo-like things you see....as in the video that DB shared...where the defender is doing a scripted response of about 12 things, is not at all realistic. But what someone like Maul Mornie is often teaching in seminars is the initial response or entry, and then multiple ways to continue from the entry depending upon how the initial attacker reacts.
Huh.

That seems like calling the edge in a coinflip from here.
 

JowGaWolf

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From what I've seen on self-defense seminar videos, most instructors don't factor the "what if scenarios." to answer: (maybe someone can speak differently from the experience of physically being in one.)
1. what happens if I get it wrong
2. what do I do if I get it wrong
3. what do to if the the attacker is able to defeat my attempts


---In a FMA/Kali context I have trained in a series of joint locks or a "lock flow." Here you go from one joint lock to another....going through maybe 8 or more locks! But the idea is that you try to apply one lock and it fails or the opponent resists....then the next lock in the series is the one you will most likely resort to...and if that one fails or the opponent resists...then the next lock in the series is the one you will most likely resort to....etc. Not that you would go through the entire series in a self defense situation, but if you find yourself applying one of the locks and it doesn't work....you instinctively flow into the next lock that is most likely to be needed. The things that Maul Mornie often teaches in seminars seem like a long series that wouldn't be likely to work. But he explains that if the opponent is out after the entry and initial counter, then you are done! But if that initial counter didn't end it, this is the next thing you will likely do, etc. Or often that initial counter is just a set up to position the opponent where you want them for the finishing move, etc. There is never the expectation that a series of 10 or more moves is every going to be used exactly that way in a real situation.


Catching punches are also very difficult if the person isn't slowing down the punch will it's coming in and retreating. Just snatching a punch out of mid air is extremely difficult. The demos that show the "catch a punch" often do so at the fastest point of a punch, which is nuts to me.

---Depends on how you train. Again, taking Maul Mornie's SSBD as an example, they drill a feed of strikes at various angles that are somewhat exaggerated so that a student gets used to quickly seeing the angle coming. You also learn to maintain a range that enables you enough reaction time to see what is coming. Then the defenses are more based on a "zone" defense rather than particular techniques. So you defend a "gate" or "zone" rather than trying to "catch" an attack. And when you defend you use the shoulder as reference point and move towards it so that you are automatically off-balancing the opponent and moving away from a follow up strike at the same time. Maul is very good at this and invites people at his seminars to launch random fast attacks at him....empty hand and training knife/sword.
I just looked up Maul Mornie and he doesn't do any of the things that I said was really difficult to do such as catching a punch. He uses a lot of redirects and striking of the arm which is totally different. Defending a "gate" or "zone" as you state is not the same as catching, which is what I was talking about in reference to the Self-defense video. Striking incoming punches is much easier, your arm is longer so I have more opportunity and time to strike the arm before it clears.

Freestyle Silat
You know what you don't see? These 2 catching punches. You know why? Because it's really difficult to do? It's not impossible, just really difficult. If you can interfere with an incoming punch or an exiting punch then you can increase your chances of being successful, but even then it's really difficult.
 

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A 20 hit combo is the least of your worries here lol. There was a lot of things that weren't applied correctly.

From what I've seen on self-defense seminar videos, most instructors don't factor the "what if scenarios." to answer: (maybe someone can speak differently from the experience of physically being in one.)
1. what happens if I get it wrong
2. what do I do if I get it wrong
3. what do to if the the attacker is able to defeat my attempts

I don't have to understand the language to visually see things not working out the way you initially plan and the need to be able to adjust accordingly.

Catching punches are also very difficult if the person isn't slowing down the punch will it's coming in and retreating. Just snatching a punch out of mid air is extremely difficult. The demos that show the "catch a punch" often do so at the fastest point of a punch, which is nuts to me.
 

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I'm not a fan of BJJ, but yeah, he was spot on 100% on everything he said. He even acknowledge the different between Fighting and Arresting. Which I thought was awesome. He stated that he didn't want to be in a position where he was tied to the ground, again awesome. Then he brought up the wrist locks, while they aren't useless and they aren't garbage, they are extremely difficult to pull off. The more the body sweats the more difficulty you'll have. Those joint and wrist locks require tremendous hand strength.

My guess is that all of his years of BJJ would give him better hand strength for gripping than what most kung fu and other martial arts have. I've been grabbed by a wrestler before, and right away I could tell the difference between his grip strength and mine. The grip strength alone alerted me that I was in a bad situation.

If a person can pull off a wrist lock then great. Totally awesome, but that crap ain't happening after a seminar. If a person wants to be able to use stuff like that then they will need to train it as if they were professional Chin Na fighters.

This is your best bet


Because once this happens, You'll need to really be highly skilled to pull it off. It gets even more difficult when punches start flying. Keep in mind it's possible, but not like what is often shown in demos. .

I think I have the answer to part of the puzzle of how it works, but I don't have the grip strength nor the forearm conditioning to really test it and pull off, and that's just for one technique where I'm trying to get my hand into position to grab. Here's what I know from experience.
1. I know if I get it wrong my arm takes a beating
2. Because of weak hands if feels like my fingers nails are trying to grab and hold on vs my fingers locking the grip.
3. I only feel comfortable working on the outside, which means I have to stand a certain way in order to have an opportunity to grab the punching hand.
4. I feel as if I try to work the inside of the arm, that I'm going to get punched with the other hand. I have no Trust in the technique because I'm too scared to "man up" and get hit in the face if I get it wrong. Normally it's not a big deal but in this case, my head would be wide open.
5. I have a bad habit of "chasing hands" that I need to get rid of. This is where the person becomes so focused on trying to grab a hand or arm that they leave everything else open.

One day I'll get it but not without some serious training and conditioning, which at the moment, I'm not all that excited about getting into. For me, some of the traditional kung fu conditioning is just boring, so my mind really needs to be focus and calm, because it takes time to do it right.
 

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Catching punches are also very difficult ...
It's not that difficult if you do it in 2 steps. When your opponent throws a right punch,

- you use left hand to redirect his punch arm (at his elbow joint) to your right,
- you then use your right hand to catch his wrist.
 

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I just looked up Maul Mornie and he doesn't do any of the things that I said was really difficult to do such as catching a punch. He uses a lot of redirects and striking of the arm which is totally different. Defending a "gate" or "zone" as you state is not the same as catching, which is what I was talking about in reference to the Self-defense video. Striking incoming punches is much easier, your arm is longer so I have more opportunity and time to strike the arm before it clears.

Freestyle Silat
You know what you don't see? These 2 catching punches. You know why? Because it's really difficult to do? It's not impossible, just really difficult. If you can interfere with an incoming punch or an exiting punch then you can increase your chances of being successful, but even then it's really difficult.

His first fight?

But yeah. You can't see punches at speed and once you have eaten a couple the mechanics change.

And they were bombs getting thrown there. Exactly the sort of shots that are supposed to be designed for counters. And yet in my experience. Don't get countered and often don't even get blocked.

I know I struggle to do it. And that is even simple block punch krav stuff that I spent far too much time trying to make work.
 

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It's not that difficult if you do it in 2 steps. When your opponent throws a right punch,

- you use left hand to redirect his punch arm (at his elbow joint) to your right,
- you then use your right hand to catch his wrist.

Still doesn't work. You see it with knife defence.
 

drop bear

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I'm not a fan of BJJ, but yeah, he was spot on 100% on everything he said. He even acknowledge the different between Fighting and Arresting. Which I thought was awesome. He stated that he didn't want to be in a position where he was tied to the ground, again awesome. Then he brought up the wrist locks, while they aren't useless and they aren't garbage, they are extremely difficult to pull off. The more the body sweats the more difficulty you'll have. Those joint and wrist locks require tremendous hand strength.

He is talking about industry training wristlocks. Which from my experience are consistantly trained wrong.
 

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Still doesn't work. You see it with knife defence.
Knife can react farther than the fist can.

I saw it worked in a challenge fight with my own eyes. It's like you use your arms to set up a trap. Your leading arm at your opponent's elbow joint, and your back arm at your opponent's wrist joint. When your opponent punches at you, you lean your upper body back 30 - 45 degree. This will give you enough time and space to set up your trap.
 
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