Sports vs Traditional in terms of Self Defense

Hyoho

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Oh, boy. I get into this discussion often.
Martial arts has almost always been developed for combat use. They are fighting systems at their core, pure and simple. If you want to defend yourself, you need to train yourself to do just that. That means fighting "dirty" is on the table. You learn to use whatever gives you the advantage over your attacker.
Japanese sword practitioners would disagree with you. No need to fight dirty. With a blade you either kill them or you don't. It depends upon Satsujinken (killing sword) or Katsujinken (life giving sword). I could go into detail but you only have to watch a few movies to understand. The hero usually only deals with attackers. It's very much a matter of pride for Japanese as in the past the sword has been used for all the wrong reasons.
 

drop bear

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Only if that is a true issue (that cops are handing back weapons from bad training). If not, then it's teaching a lesson to a problem that doesn't exist, and might result in the wrong kind of overcompensation. In this instance-the overcompensation could be a delay in technique practice to ensure you don't get into the habit of handing the gun over, resulting in less reps being practiced, or more time being spent on that one portion of training then needed, both which could be problematic.

Also, if you can't say if it is or isn't true, I'd avoid starting a story with the statement that it is true. Just as an fyi for the future.

Technically to get fast reps in. You would disarm. Then he disarms. And there is no gun handing.
 

drop bear

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I didnt know who Lewis Urry was either. Until someone told me he invented both the alkaline and lithium battery. Notoriety and expertise are not related.

That works both ways though. World renowned self defence expert doesn't automatically translate to good either.
 

Ji Yuu

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I don't agree with this. If it's not true, it's what is referred to as apocryphal, and is basically useless to illustrate anything. In fact, it's a good idea to be skeptical of apocryphal stories, as they are often shared to manipulate people.

There was another recent thread in which we chatted a little about conventional wisdom, which can be complete garbage.

I'm just suggesting that you apply some critical thought to things, and be open to the idea that just because it feels right (i.e., it reinforces what you already believe to be true) doesn't mean it is right.
I under that you don't think this "apocryphal" story (weather true or not) illustrates a poor training practice, which your thoughts are justified. But, do you think the kind of repetitive training, the point being made, affects the outcome of an SD situation? My whole point was that incorrect training potentially leads to undesired results.
 

Steve

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I under that you don't think this "apocryphal" story (weather true or not) illustrates a poor training practice, which your thoughts are justified. But, do you think the kind of repetitive training, the point being made, affects the outcome of an SD situation? My whole point was that incorrect training potentially leads to undesired results.
I think that it does illustrate a great point, which is that you really cant evaluate good or bad training without good data based on measurable outcomes.

Which leads back to the video in the OP. Sport training demonstrates reliable, predictable, and repeatable outcomes. Its independent of apocryphal stories and conventional wisdom.
 

Oily Dragon

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Your post reminds me of one of the requirements I have of my students: they must engage in fitness training at least once a week, unless they want to join me in what I do. I also encourage a healthy diet.
I honestly find people who eschew daily fitness but still walk around with their "martial artist" cap on a little annoying. For some reason it seems to be the rule not the exception.

Depending on the art, some have general fitness and strength training built in, others seem to skip it. Supplementing whatever you're leaning with "roadwork" is good for stepping up whatever your game is.

Some training methods (looking at you Tiger Crane!) are aerobic widowmakers compared to say, jumping jacks or pushups at the start of class. So many times I dabbled with heat exhaustion when I first started learning kung fu. But I got very, very fit after just the first year. Then I lost it. Then got it back again. And so on.

Right now I'm reasonably fit because I've gotten good at knowing when and where I've gotten weak. Lots of people seem to think they learned something once, they can still do it. They miss the point that finding training balance, and maintaining it, are two different composite skills.
 

jergar

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Oh, boy. I get into this discussion often.
Martial arts has almost always been developed for combat use. They are fighting systems at their core, pure and simple. If you want to defend yourself, you need to train yourself to do just that. That means fighting "dirty" is on the table. You learn to use whatever gives you the advantage over your attacker.

If you train for sport only, you are teaching your mind and body to fight according to the rules of that sport. You are also training yourself to engage only one attacker.

Now, let's say you train for self defense only; targeting the knees, eyes, etc. These tactics are of little use if you do not know how to engage your attacker(s) (knowing how to fight). This is where a sparring partner(s) comes in. This is where you engage in "sport" martial arts in order to learn how to get past your attacker's guard, get your attacker off balance, or how to spot various targets, and how to position yourself if you have two attackers, i.e. not being in between them.

Having said all of that, martial sport can be a useful tool. You just have to throw the rule book out. After all, if you train only for competition, you'll defend yourself like you're trying not to get disqualified and win a match. If you train to save you life or a loved one's life, you'll fight like it.

That's my opinion.
Yes I agree all martial arts were at one time for self defense.There was no concept of dirty fighting because they were fighting for their life not for sport. Fighting more than one opponent was probably the norm also. These days some people train for exercise some for sport if your training for self defense you should be learning all of the above ,getting around your opponents attack or defense depending on what art you are learning. When i had boxers coming in to the school of course their punching skills were great but we had to teach them how to kick,grab,sweep etc. We move on triangles, boxers move in circles so they had to learn that also some did some didn't . It still comes down to how you train. Peace!
 

Dirty Dog

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I see what your saying. And I was not in any way intending to imply that I suggest people engage in full contact sparring in order to learn to defend themselves. I should, however, elaborate on what I posted.

One thing I address with people is that, when in a hostile situation, there is a threshold beyond which a victim may reach a state of panic. When this happens, people often do not think straight and their body may resort to auto-pilot, whether it is freezing up, fainting, or deploying a series of pre-programmed punches without thinking about it.
Maybe might kinda sorta possibly. What actual evidence is there to support the theory, and what evidence is there that this would be a training issue rather than, say, a personality issue?
Here is an example of what I'm talking about (unfortunately, it really happened):
Police officers were training in disarming tactics. The training against an armed aggressor was basically as follows: 1- Take control of the aggressors firearm, 2- Employ the practiced disarming technique (which does work, btw), and then 3- Hand the prop weapon back to the practice partner. Later, one of the officers encountered an armed felon. He quickly disarmed him and, as his body was trained to do so, handed the weapon back to the criminal and was killed after doing so. This is an example of a poor training technique.
Yeah yeah, we've all heard this story and others. Have you heard the one about the MMA fighter who released his assailant when he tapped out?
Problem is, anecdotes are not evidence. And Urban Myth is a real thing. So... any actual evidence that this has happened, and with enough regularity to concern us?
I have actually seen students resort to this sort of reflex-based fighting in tournaments. But I have never seen it in an actual confrontation. Not even once. And I am willing to bet I've been involved in more physical conflicts than most.
But if we're relying on anecdotes, then it would seem, based on my experiences, that giving up thinking is more an issue with sparring than with real fighting. And in some ways, that makes perfect sense. Because you KNOW the fight is real. Which can sharpen your focus.
 

Buka

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the real problem with this is that many martial artists never fight. More concerning, many martial arts instructors never fight (and some have never even been in a fight). As a result, they aren't learning to fight at all, much less fight dirty. They're having fun, though. Maybe getting a little exercise.
There are Instructors who have never even witnessed a fight. (Outside of schoolboy fights)
 

drop bear

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I once heard a story from a guy about a dude who ate an entire stick of butter every night before bed. He was super healthy, with great cholesterol and blood sugar. Helped him sleep, and kept his metabolism working at night, which basically allowed his body to burn fat while he slept. Goes to show you that you can never have enough butter in your diet.

Of course, that's all complete BS. But if you were inclined to believe it anyway... say you were looking for an easy way to lose weight, or a good reason to eat more butter (because why not?), you might buy it hook, line, and sinker, and then share it with your friends as fact.

This is how folks get sucked into all kinds of silly stuff and no one is immune from it.

Actually keto.

But yeah your point still stands.
So, my point in comparing sport with combat type training is that training does affect what your body does in a high stressed situation.

I have found it is really similar.
 

drop bear

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Japanese sword practitioners would disagree with you. No need to fight dirty. With a blade you either kill them or you don't. It depends upon Satsujinken (killing sword) or Katsujinken (life giving sword). I could go into detail but you only have to watch a few movies to understand. The hero usually only deals with attackers. It's very much a matter of pride for Japanese as in the past the sword has been used for all the wrong reasons.

In general you want to use the safest technique. Not the dirtiest.

And there is quite often a difference between the two.
 

drop bear

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There are Instructors who have never even witnessed a fight. (Outside of schoolboy fights)

Not really. I think the issue is one of culture rather than ignorance.

Self defence quite often come from a poor instructional culture because or the places it takes it's expertise from.

You look at military/law enforcement/industry systems. If captain boss on top of you believes a thing. You have to accept it. So they can be teaching any old thing and never get pulled up on it.

Where for example when Lachlan guiles sells a system. He rolls with everyone on the mat. He says a thing. And at some point you say screw you. Let's find out.
 

Ji Yuu

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Only if that is a true issue (that cops are handing back weapons from bad training). If not, then it's teaching a lesson to a problem that doesn't exist, and might result in the wrong kind of overcompensation. In this instance-the overcompensation could be a delay in technique practice to ensure you don't get into the habit of handing the gun over, resulting in less reps being practiced, or more time being spent on that one portion of training then needed, both which could be problematic.

Also, if you can't say if it is or isn't true, I'd avoid starting a story with the statement that it is true. Just as an fyi for the future.
Well, I presumed it to be true when I heard it from the one who presented the scenario. He claimed to have worked with the said Sheriff's Dept after the event. I agree that the guy could have been making it up.
 

drop bear

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Well, I presumed it to be true when I heard it from the one who presented the scenario. He claimed to have worked with the said Sheriff's Dept after the event. I agree that the guy could have been making it up.


It is a common story. But nobody can actually pin the story down to a true one.

It is indicative of self defence training that people make stuff up. It is weird. I don't know why people do it. But they just do.

I have even seen it happen when sports fighters teach self defence. And they should know better.
 

Chris Parker

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Okay, I might come back to various comments in the thread in due time, but to begin with, I think I'll start to illustrate why my reaction was as it was by, as mentioned, breaking down the entire video itself first. Bear with me, this might take a bit...

Just before I get to that, though, @Nobufusa, I'm quite aware of who John Danaher is, and his reputation and pedigree. What I was saying is that, in this area, he is woefully undereducated (something that, to be blunt, pervades this entire thread... but we'll come back to that). His BJJ skills and knowledge aren't in question... just his ability to speak authoritatively (or accurately) in this case (non-BJJ). Right, let's get to it.

We start with Lex asking John about the "fourth facet" of BJJ, referred to as "Self Defence". Lex then queries why it's called self defence ("I don't know why it's called self defence, it's called "street fighting", okay, it's called "fighting"... maybe you can contest that terminology", to which John replies "it's non-sport fighting"), before rephrasing his question as "What is the best martial art for street fighting?". Now, if he'd left it here, it may have been okay, but Lex continues to add what he feels is meaningful context seemingly, by rephrasing (again) the question as asking for advice for a BJJ white belt, a new grappling student, what is the best set of techniques for street fighting, then again, what is the best martial art for street fighting. John comments that Lex has asked some "truly fascinating questions here"... no, he hasn't. He's asked some rather ignorant ones, and in a very messy way.

To begin this whole thing, we need to understand a number of things. Firstly, and most importantly, is that self defence and street fighting are far from the same thing. In fact, one could argue they're almost entirely opposite of each other... but that's getting ahead of ourselves. By conflating them, even by saying that "self defence (should be better described as) street fighting", we already begin with a questioner who doesn't understand his own question. Lex further solidifies this idea by bringing in his fictional white belt, and asking about the best techniques, as well as the best martial art for his imagined "street fighting" (before we've even come close to figuring out what that means in the first place), seemingly thinking that they are one and the same. They're not. A martial art is not a set of techniques, although it can (and almost always) does include such. It is, really, a set of ideas and principles, some of which are technical, some are focused on training methodology and pedagogy, some can be philosophical, political, or spiritual, and so on. The techniques are then an outward expression of those principles. In other words, you can't have a set of techniques that are "best" without it being intrinsic to the art in question... and you can't have a "best" art and then separate set of "best" techniques that aren't a part of the art in question. Simply put, the question already suggests it's own answer is BJJ, and is more about what techniques in BJJ are best for this imagined "street fight"... which, being a BJJ podcast, with a BJJ practitioner interviewing another BJJ practitioner, is hardly surprising, but is also a bias present from the beginning that needs to be accounted for.

The next thing to look at is whether John is in any place to discuss arts other than BJJ, and his perception of it's suitability to their imagined context ("non-sport fighting"/"street fighting"/"self defence"). And, from the entire clip, the answer to that is a resounding "no". He demonstrates over and again that he doesn't have any actual knowledge, experience, understanding, or appreciation of other arts other than his pre-determined ideas (again, not an uncommon thing), but still feels able to assess and adjudicate other approaches suitability for an imagined context that is ill-defined at best, and thoroughly meaningless at worst. So, let's look at that context.

We'll stick with the idea of "street fighting" as suggested by Lex. John makes a cute joke about "what if it's on the grass in the playground, is that not 'street' fighting anymore (as you're not on the 'street')?", because semantics (out of context and proper place) are funny. Cool. So, let's get a working definition. We can look at the concepts of "street fighting" in three parts; first, what is meant by "street", then, what is meant by "fighting", and finally, what is meant with the two terms together as a single construct. This, like the concept of "self defence", might seem obvious to many, however, it's important to be able to distinguish between what's obvious because you already have a preconceived perception, and what is actually meant or implied divorced from your own personal interpretation. In other words, just because you think you have an idea based on what you believe it to be doesn't mean that you actually know what it actually is.

Right, so, "street". Let's be a little pedantic, and point out that this doesn't mean literally a road-way in an urban area... instead, "street" is used here as a catch-all for an environment that is not specifically designed for or utilised as an area of conflict or violence. Moreover, the implication is that it's also away from any form of sanctuary, such as a home or workplace (not that violence cannot, or does not occur there, but I doubt anyone would state that they got in a "street fight" with their spouse or family members). Now that we've established environment, let's look at the action in the phrase; "fighting". What we need to be careful of is assuming that any kind of violent encounter is a "fight". Most of the time, they're not. They're assaults. They're muggings. They're ambushes. They're domestic violence. They're threats from one to another. It becomes a "fight" when both parties willingly engage in conflict against each other. If it's one person attempting to inflict their will on the other, and the other doesn't respond by attempting to do the same to the first person, and instead responds by complying, by escaping, by engaging in a violent act only so as to gain an opportunity to escape, and so on, that's not a "fight".

So, what we have is a situation where two (or more) persons engage in a violent encounter, with each aiming to inflict their will upon the other (to "beat" them, as it were... to "win", in whatever way that manifests itself) that occurs outside of a sanctioned arena or environment. Simply by having both sides engage (willingly, even if not at first), we are now not talking about self defence at all, in a tactical, moral, or legal sense. But, again, we'll get there. For now, it would seem we've come up with a reasonable definition of "street fighting" (or "non-sport fighting", for John). There is, however, a major problem that needs to be addressed first, and that is the cultural side of things.

Regardless of our feelings on the matter, violence is a cultural endeavour. It has particular rules, expectations, rituals, societal roles, and more... all of which change depending on the culture we're talking about. The idea of a "street fight" in Brazil is very different to one in the US... or Australia... or Japan... or the Philippines. What types of violence you're likely to encounter changes... how likely you are to encounter it also changes... as does the environments you're more likely to encounter it in. So, before John starts talking about what's best for "street fighting", he really needs to ask "what do you mean by 'street fighting'?" Of course, he doesn't, because he, like many experienced martial artists, thinks that he knows already... except, frankly, he doesn't. He only knows what he imagines it to be, based on personal experience, media, stories, and his training background, which has taught him to think a certain way about violence.

Okay, that's one minute in, and, so far, we have only had Lex ask his question... I'll continue the breakdown in my next post...
 

Chris Parker

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Part 2.

So, John starts off by saying that these types of questions tend to trap the askee into only giving bad answers, and, well, let's see how he goes...

"Don't get too bogged down in... people are always going to ask, 'is this martial art better, or is this martial art better', and the truth is, uh... there's only one way to say this; Combat Sports are your best option for self defence."

Well, you gotta admire the fact that he didn't try to give a more safe "every art has something to offer" answer... let's see how he justifies this idea. You may note, of course, that, even though the beginning of the interview was setting up the idea of this being about "street fighting", John has immediately gone back to discussing applicability and usability for "self defence"... and that's going to be a problem for him, as, like the vast majority of martial artists who do little more than pay lip-service to the ideas and concepts, I don't think John really has any idea what the concept of "self defence" actually entails.

"There are many martial arts, and they fall into a rough divide between the two; those that fall into combat sports, and those that fall into non sporting (shrug) martial arts, where there's no... uh... competitive, live-sparring element, where most of the knowledge is theoretical knowledge, re-inforced by passive drilling."

Yeah, dude has no idea what he's talking about. His assessment of the "rough divide" between martial arts tells me that his awareness of the scope of martial systems is deeply lacking, his belief in how non-sporting arts operate, train, drill, and are structured is so incredibly off-base that I hardly know where to start ("most of the knowledge is theoretical"?!?!? What? I can think of exactly one martial approach that is theoretical, and that is JKD... who test their theories constantly in non-sporting sparring... as for "passive drilling", that's a complete misunderstanding of the structure of such training approaches... there's little to nothing "passive" about such drills, unless your teacher doesn't understand them either... what they are, and I'm talking koryu kata here [paired exercises with an attacking side and a performing side], is a safe training method where you can skirt closer to the edge of actual combat than any sparring allows for... but, even there, the context needs to be understood, because who you're intending to face is a big part of it all as well). This isn't even getting into the myriad of forms of sparring (in different approaches, with their own aims and sets of context) that non-sporting arts engage in.

The point is, John is creating a false argument by not actually presenting two different approaches, but by presenting a simplified single side, and an imagined, false, and vilified "other" approach, when there is no real base for his comments. Probably the worst of all of this, though, is the idea of "theoretical knowledge"... if we're talking classical arts (and that's the context of the OP, really), then the knowledge is absolutely not "theoretical". In fact, it's codified knowledge based in experience... the reason we don't need to spar to test is that it's all already been tested... to be blunt, the reason sparring is required is precisely because the knowledge is theoretical, and needs to be tested... so, if he's going to aim that accusation somewhere, he's looking in exactly the wrong direction (don't believe me? Look at the way BJJ techniques develop... someone comes up with an idea for an escape, or a choke, drills it a bit, and then tries to employ in in rolling... they start with a theory, try it out, then test it in sparring... the primary reason for sparring is to test theoretical knowledge...).

"If you have a choice between a combat sport, and a non-sporting art based around theoretical knowledge and passive drilling, go with the combat sport". So, if you have a choice between something that is vague, but exists in a range of forms, and something that's made up as a sport arts type of boogeyman, go with the one that exists? Great. But does this mean all combat sports are equal, and equally effective? Sure, John will have great things to say about BJJ, but what about Olympic TKD? They're about as far from each other as you can get in unarmed combat sports, so they're both as good as each other? Is there something better suited than Olympic TKD that isn't a combat sport? How would he know?

"Nothing will prepare for the intensity of a genuine altercation better than combat sports." Really? Nothing? Well, it's a good thing we insist that all security guards have at least a few years in a sports art, then! What? We don't? How about the military? Police? No? Hmm... what do they use as primary training and teaching methods? Pre-arranged drills and scenario training? You don't say?

You know what prepares you to handle an intense situation like an assault? An intense situation that simulates an assault as close as possible while maintaining safety. You know how to do that? By starting with a pre-determined attack and defence sequence, then upping the intensity until it's at full speed and power. By being pre-determined, both sides know what to expect, so can perform at a high intensity without risking unexpected actions (which lead to injuries or worse)... after a while these drills can be mixed and matched... put into scenarios... all without any kind of competitive sparring or sports aspect.

"Many people, as I say these words, are probably horrified to hear me say this, and immediately go to rebut, saying 'no, combat sports is exactly the wrong thing for you to do, because they have safety rules, etc etc, which can be easily exploited in a real fight, and if I fought a world champion boxer, I'd just poke him in the eye, or kick him in the groin, etc, etc', you've heard these arguments a thousand times."

Okay, I'm not about to say those arguments aren't made, but they are made by people who have no clue what they're talking about either... they're living in the same kind of fantasy world that John is creating for his "non-sporting" arts, where internal beliefs, based on no experience, are the guiding factor. There are certainly reasons that combat sports can be sub-optimal for self defence (street fighting is a slightly different situation... and we may note that John has gone back to describing "a real fight", not self defence here... again, there's no consistency in what he's discussing, as, simply, he is ignorant of the actual distinctions), but we'll get to that in a bit.

"Yes, there is SOME validity to these arguments, but, as a general rule, if you asked me to bet, in any form of 'street fight', call it what you will, between a combat sport adherent, versus someone who simply trains with drills, and talks in theories in terms of what they would do in a fight, then I'm going to go with the combat sports guy Every. Single. Time."

Yeah... so, to take this piece by piece, no, there's little validity to the "I'd just poke them in the eye" argument... next, it's not a case of "whatever you want to call it", we're talking about two very different types of encounters and situations... if it's self defence, that's one thing, if it's a street fight, that's something else... lastly, yeah, I'd go with the combat sports guy, as the other one is typically a beginner (or rather inexperienced in the world of violence, to say the least), and is filled with fantasy and ego... but that's not the same as saying they're just not a combat sports person. The scariest people I've met are all non-combat sports people... and the combat sports ones? Yeah, not so much... typically speaking, the serious non-sporting ones tend to be the ones who understand violence a lot more....

More to follow...
 

Chris Parker

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Part 3.

"Now, all that being said, combat sports need to be modified for the use of self defence, street fighting, we haven't agreed on a term yet, we'll figure it out later."

Again, we get the conflation of the two terms as being commensurate, when, as discussed, they're simply not. Self defence is protecting yourself against unexpected violence (in which the physical altercation and application of violence is the last resort, and indicates failure on numerous levels already), and a street fight is a violent engagement willingly partaken in by both parties, with the aim to prevail over the opponent, but in a particular environment as previously discussed. Yes, self defence situations can become street fights, but you have now left behind the idea of self defence. You literally cannot be engaging in both at the same time. As for the modification, let's see what John has to say there...

"What is this modification? Well, some of it's technical... for example, a boxer now has to punch without wrapped or gloved hands, and that's problematic. Your hands aren't really designed for heavy, extended us of clubbing hard objects" He then goes on to detail the story of Mike Tyson breaking his hand in a street fight in 1988 against Mitch Green, crucially leaving out a number of key details that lead to the injury... but that's a side-note, really. "So, the boxer would need to modify their technique... they could throw with open hands, or elbows... so, with only a small modification in technique, they can overcome that problem."

Yeah... so, about his idea of what our hands are actually designed for... Fine hands, fists of fury: Our hands evolved for punching, not just dexterity

As for the rest, sure, a boxer could make a technical alteration, but would they? I mean, they spend all their time working on developing potentially knock-out power with a fist, refining the mechanics of a closed-fist punch, understanding the distancing, targeting, and so forth, and then would have to fight that trained instinct to do a different mechanic in the heat of a sudden, violent encounter, because John thinks it's a "simple modification"? Consciously, sure... but it needs to be trained for it to be able to come out when needed... in other words, the training itself needs to have the modification, as relying on the individual to modify successfully in the moment without prior exposure is just unrealistic.

"So, what you'll find is that the general physical, mental conditioning and skill development that comes from combat sports, allied with technical modifications, and then, the most important of all, tactical modifications, will provide your best hope in dealing with altercations outside of sports, in the street, or wherever you find yourself."

So, firstly, is John suggesting that combat sports are the only types of systems that give physical conditioning, mental conditioning, and skill development? Does he think other arts don't do that? I get that there's an argument to be made for the physical conditioning of combat sports practitioners (and it's probably to be expected, as the aim is to engage in a sporting contest, whatever small edge you can give yourself can be the difference... additionally, a combat sports practitioner is more likely to need to be physically conditioned to be ready for their next competition, where a non-sports practitioner isn't working on the same timeline), but you have to look at what type of conditioning is required, what is desired, and how it is to be achieved. Sports arts have a different physical demand due to the frequent competition... and, hey, someone says they're main goal in martial arts is to get fit, combat sports are the first thing I'll suggest... but to suggest that they're the only option, or the only way to achieve such a goal is conceited at the very least, deeply ignorant at worst.

As far as mental conditioning, I really don't get where sports guys get the idea that their mental "toughness" is anything more than other martial artists... in fact, I would posit that most sports guys wouldn't hack a genuine classical martial arts class purely on a mental level. The mental pressures of combat sports are quite pedestrian by comparison. And, looking at the idea of "skill development", again, this is so vague as to be meaningless... the implication is that the skills developed in sports training are better suited or better developed than in non-sports arts, which is again simply a complete misunderstanding of both situations. For one thing, the skills being developed aren't even necessarily close to the same, and, in the cases where they are the same (or similar enough), often both simply have different ways of developing (and measuring) such skills. Once again, this is John describing things as they exist in his head, not in any form of reality.

What's most intriguing to me, though, is that he actually touches on the most important distinction between sports arts and non-sports arts, especially in relation to self defence (or street fights, although, again, a different thing entirely), and that is tactical. Yes, the tactical side of things is where the modification actually needs to be applied... but, as John offers exactly zero follow up to this, I can only surmise that he doesn't actually have any idea what that modification would need to be, or why.

"The least effective approaches to self defence that I have observed in my life, have been those where, as I said, people talked theory, drilled on passive opponents, and generally had no engagement in live competition or sparring in their training programs."

I'd be interested to know exactly what and who he observed "in his life" like that... I will say that, depending on the class itself, you can certainly get that impression from the outside... take my classes, for example. I will often explain the reasoning behind what we are doing in a technique (from both the attacker and defender points of view), and it can look like the techniques are being done on a fairly passive training partner... we also don't have any kind of free-sparring methods in the regular (traditional) side of things (our street work has a fair amount of scenario-based training, which begins simply, and builds up to a largely free-form practice). But here's the thing... the "theory" isn't something untested... it's also not something just made up... it's codified into the art, and comes from experience. The "passive drills" only ever start like that... the way they're trained, the attacking side gradually ups the intensity and pace, as well as the appropriate resistance (note: not the same thing as what you would get in sparring, for a range of tactical reasons) to enable the defending side to be able to perform at a full pace and intensity.

As far as "no engagement in live competition or sparring", yep. We don't want to. Mainly as it doesn't work for our aims... which are to be as accurate to the skills and lessons we're practicing as possible. The techniques are designed with the idea that both partners are skilled and aware... in a way, there's a real "fake it till you make it" concept going on... by inhabiting the actions of someone who knows what they're doing, and has skill in the area, you gradually take on those traits yourself. This cannot happen with any kind of reliability if we just "do whatever" in a free-form sparring situation, so we don't do it. We want consistency and reliability in our approach, not random, haphazard chance based as much on a persons natural talent as anything else.

Again, the point is that John's observations are from an incredibly limited understanding... it's entirely likely that he simply didn't understand what he was seeing in the other arts (not uncommon), so came away with a rather incorrect understanding of them. That doesn't make his comments valid, however. Just uninformed.

"The most effective... by a landslide... were those who put a heavy emphasis on live sparring, and sporting competition, modified, both technically and tactically, for the circumstances in which they found themselves."

Now, this sounds good, except, again, there is no follow up to the tactical modifications required, but, more tellingly, there is no indication of the sample size that John is talking about. His martial career is almost exclusively combat sports; starting with kickboxing and karate before moving onto BJJ (where he started getting serious about martial arts) around 1990 with Renzo Gracie. Couple that with the relatively low odds of there being any large number of self defence or street fight encounters he could have potentially witnessed, especially from very specific martial backgrounds, and knowing exactly what went into the success or lack in each situation, means that this entire argument is based in his imaginings of what he thinks is the most effective, as there's no way at all for him to have any actual data to corroborate such a claim.

Oh, and for the record, the most effective systems for self defence... by a landslide... are systems that are designed for that situation from the ground up. They have training exercises and drills specific to the situation, they have an awareness of the context beyond most, and they require little to no modification at all. Oh, and they aren't martial arts... they're RBSD systems.

"People talk, for example, about how, you know, hmm... and, with some validity, that weapons with change everything in a street fight, there's absolute truth to that."

Yes. Yes, there is. Hence some kind of weapon training being high beneficial to anyone thinking of training in self defence (or "street fighting"). You know who does weapon training? Those traditional, non-sparring, non-competitive martial arts... (oh, don't start bringing up Kendo or fencing... they're as related to the weapons in combative usage as the air craft carriers are in Battleship).

"But this extends into weapons as well. The most effective forms of knife fighting that you'll see, will be those that come from a background in fencing, because it has sparring, and a competitive sporting aspect to it."

Yeah... this is why I said he's an idiot.

The most effective forms of knife fighting are those that come from a culture where fighting with blades is prominent. The Philippines. South Africa. Prisons. Not fencing. Idiot. Might as well say that the best tennis players come from people who do ten-pin bowling.

"But would purge fencing be the appropriate thing? Of course not, you'd have to modify it. But the reflexes, endurance, physical mobility that you get from the sport of fencing could easily be modified to bladecraft in a fight situation."

Idiot.

Look, one of the reasons to train in specific weapons is it gets you used to specific distances, angles of attack, and a raised level of threat. Thinking that, just because fencing is ostensibly related to using a long blade, therefore it's applicable to a small concealed folding knife is to completely and utterly misunderstand the whole point of weapons training from a combative perspective. You'll also notice that John has brought up a couple of areas, only to completely disengage from discussing them, as he doesn't have the knowledge or experience to do so... he did it by bringing up "tactical modification" without anything about what that modification would need to entail, and here, he brings up the fact that weapons (and their introduction) can change a fight enormously, only to immediately turn around and say "weapon sports arts are also good, so you don't have to worry about weapons changing things!" without the first clue about how weapons change an encounter, what the benefits of weapons training is, how it is applied, and, well, everything else.

"What you want to look for, with regards (to) street and self defence, if not 'okay, which style should I choose, should I choose Taekwon Do, should I choose karate, should I choose this variation of kung fu?', no, focus on the most important thing; does it have a sport aspect to it?"

Not "is it designed to actually help me in this situation", then?

"Then, once you've made sufficient progress in the sport side of that martial art, start asking yourself, what are the requisite modifications in technique and tactics that I have to use, or that I have to input, to make it effective for street situations? That's always the advice that I give."

So... the biggest problem here is that there's no way to tell if the student, having gone through a sport art, with a sport emphasis, in a sport context, with sports techniques, sports tactics, would have any clue about street or self defence application, and therefore be in any position to know what would need to be done in the first place.

Look, here's the reality. Self defence is often used as a driver for martial arts students, but no martial art is designed for it, as they deal with an area (and style) of violence that is wholy separate from the aspects of self defence itself... however, this has most martial artists thinking that they understand self defence, street violence and other aspects of conflict and conflict resolution. Simply put, very few do. And those that do typically recognise that, and teach their self defence separate to the martial art side of things... or leave the martial art side entirely to focus on the self defence/street violence management. Simply being a martial artist is no qualification to discuss modern violence and it's management, as it's a qualification in something else entirely. This area is a separate study, and needs to be approached as such.

If I get a chance, I'll come back to look at the other posts...
 

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