Very interesting and informative post. I won't comment on all of the things I agree with or that strike me as very reasonable. But the one thing that struck me as funny (interesting funny, not haha funny) is that bouncing is much like MMA in that you have very consistent "rules" and there is very specific training intended to be useful in what is in many ways a very limited scope of potential encounters.I want to share something. Being a bouncer is a dangerous job, and in some clubs you don't go through a shift without having several or more violent encounters, it is the middle ground between fighting for your life, and fighting for sport.
Very interesting and informative post. I won't comment on all of the things I agree with or that strike me as very reasonable. But the one thing that struck me as funny (interesting funny, not haha funny) is that bouncing is much like MMA in that you have very consistent "rules" and there is very specific training intended to be useful in what is in many ways a very limited scope of potential encounters.
The question that comes to mind is, ceding the fact that MMA skills can be useful in self defense but aren't specifically self defense training, isn't experience as a bouncer much the same?
Right. That's my point exactly. MMA and TMA are different, but the same. The entire sport vs street thing is, IMO, complete bunk. No matter how you train or where you train, you're always training based on some kind of preconception. Whether it's in the limited universe of bar fights (where your opponent may have a knife or a friend with a knife) or the limited universe of a cage or ring (where you know that your opponent is likely as well trained as you), it's all limited.I think all Martial training has applicable qualities for self defense. As does bouncing, police work etc. There really isn't any specific self defense training per se, unless it involves actual fighting, and that's not possible.
I think it's a collective skill, particular to the person, the school and life experience.
Well saidJust felt like sharing some stuff I've been thinking about lately.
These thoughts were spawned by the great "Rules Debate" that commonly takes place between any TMA'er and MMA enthusiast. The conversation usually goes something like this:
MMA: "TMA is fake. You don't fight for reals in The Cage."
TMA: "That's because the cage has rules. TMA trains for The Street. If you put a TMA'er in the cage, you take away eye gouges, rabbit punches, genital-ripping, and throat-smashing!"
MMA: "As if you actually do any of those moves! You can't realistically practice eye-gouges and genital-ripping! Besides, on 'the street', there's nothing stopping a cagefighter from doing any of those dirty, deadly moves either. We could eye-gouge and throat-smash too if we wanted."
At this point the conversation usually becomes a full-on flame-war between TMA-guy & MMA-guy. The TMA guy will talk about how MMA has too many restrictive rules & how TMA is for "the street" and MMA is "just a sport". The MMA guy will then point out how no TMA'er has done well in MMA, and how most TMA's don't have a "ground game". We've all seen (or participated in) these conversations before.
Lately I've been thinking that these things in slightly different terms. And as it turns out, the TMA guy and the MMA guy are sort of both right.
I think that ultimately the difference between TMA & MMA has nothing to do with the rules at play during the fight, rather the real difference lies in the conditions for which it was designed. Lets talk about MMA for a second, & look at those conditions.
When the first UFC's came out, MMA was a competitions between TMA'ers. Remember those days? There were karate guys, kempo guys, kickboxers, WC'ers, judoka, and of course BJJ.
Over the years though, MMA became a style unto itself. It became optimized for a very specific set of conditions. Consider all the things that a modern cagefighter can take for granted:
-he knows the fight will be 1 on 1, and he doesn't even have to consider the possibility that anyone else may jump in.
-he knows there won't be any weapons of any kind involved, so he doesn't even have to consider them.
-he knows exactly what the environment will be. it'll be a flat mat in a well-lit room.
-he can be pretty sure that his opponent wont actually try to KILL him
-he knows there'll be medical professionals on hand, and even if he does get hurt real bad, someone'll get him to a hospital.
-he knows exactly when the fight will take place, so he has plenty of time to psychologically prepare
-he knows he has all the time in the world. a cagefighter doesn't have to worry about cops showing up, the bad guy's buddies showing up, or anything else like that, so he doesn't have to hurry. how many times have we seen a good grappler employ patience as a strategy?
-he knows there's no time limit on training...he can spend as much time as he wants in the gym before choosing to fight
There might be more, but these are a few of the conditions under which MMA has evolved. It's the exact same mechanism as biological evolution by natural selection...there are selective pressures that influence the way a species evolves, and these are the selective pressures that have influenced the MMA style and training approach.
Now let's think about the conditions that influenced TMA and other non-cagefight systems (like Krav Maga or Systema). Of course each system is going to have its own unique set of conditions that the founders were considering when they created the system...some are meant for formation melee war, some for more modern ballistic war and special ops, and some are meant for civilian self-defense on the street. Regardless of which of these sets of conditions we're talking about, NONE of them can take for granted any of the things a cagefighter can.
TMA's tend to assume the absolute worst for every one of the types of conditions listed above. They assume there'll be more than one opponent, that there'll be weapons, that the terrain will be rough, the lighting bad, that the bad guy is out to kill you, that you've got to hurry and win the fight fast, that you'll be surprised, etc. etc.. Considerations for all the variation in these conditions have to be built in to a TMA. This is why no TMA's have a complex, high-level "ground-game"....because that sort of strategy is a horrible idea except in a very specific set of conditions (that being a duel). This is why Wing Chun doesn't spar like how boxers do....WC figures there's no time to fight like a boxer where you jab, get a feel for the opponent, step back, maneuver around, jab, jab....search for the opening, then attack - WC assumes you've got to get in there and get it done immediately...WC assumes there just isn't time to box. It's why Krav Maga or MCMAP doesn't spend a lot of time on the "rubber guard" or Muay Thai shin-kick conditioning; not because the those people don't know how awesome Jiu Jitsu & Muay Thai are, but because those strategies aren't worth employing and aren't worth taking the time to train for given the conditions under which Krav Maga & MCMAP were developed.
To put it another way, it's not that TMA's can do "deadly dirty moves" and MMA can't. In fact, that's exactly backwards. TMA can't do a lot of the things that MMA can. TMA doesn't have the luxury of getting heavily into groundfighting, TMA doesn't have the luxury of a strategy where you can take your time and be patient. TMA's just can't take for granted a lot of the things MMA can, so TMA's strategic options tend to be more limited than MMA's.
This being the case, is it any wonder that TMA tends to lose to MMA in cagefights?!
It's sort of like the difference between a humvee and a dragracer. Who wins in a race...a humvee or a dragracer? The dragracer wins every time...provided it's on a flat, straight track. And the designer of a dragracer has the luxury of optimizing his vehicle for a very specific set of conditions. He can put a huge engine in the vehicle, he can streamline it, he can choose just the right tires, he can forget about gas mileage. A humvee designer doesn't have those options.
Or the difference between a rapier & buckler and a two-handed longsword...the rapier was designed for 1 on 1 dueling from the get-go. All things being equal, the rapier/buckler fighter wins every time. The rapier designer can choose to make a sword that's fast, long, and light because he doesn't have to worry about armor, doesn't have to worry about needing to kill or dismember the enemy with one swing...so the rapier designer has a lot more options, and thus the rapier fighter has a lot more options. A longsword can't be that light...it's got to be able to cut and thrust. It has to be able to penetrate armor. It can't be fully optimized for a 1 on 1 duel against an unarmored enemy like the rapier.
Or it's the difference between a snub-nosed revolver and a customized, competition sniper rifle. What's better? The revolver or the rifle? The rifle's more accurate, has more power, and a longer range. By every quantifiable measure the sniper rifle is better. The competition sniper rifle designer doesn't have to worry about weight or barrel length, how cumbersome the weapon is, the recoil, or how maneuverable the weapon is; he can make whatever decisions he wants that'll optimize it for the competition. But a snub-nosed revolver can go with you anywhere, it's easier to shoot, you can pull it out anytime, and it's a lot less expensive.
So anyway...to summarize...it's not about "rules" vs. "no rules" or "let's see you fight in the cage" vs. "my style is for the street!", it's about the conditions and variable a given system is built to account for. MMA exists solely to fight one enemy in a featureless, surprise-free environment, and so it's silly to even suggest that straight WC or Aikido or Karate or TKD could ever compete with MMA-style BJJ/Muay Thai in a "fair" fight, because those systems were never intended for that kind of fight...MMA is. The advantage to TMA is that you're more prepared for a wider range of conditions, if only by virtue of the fact that your training involves assuming the worst for every variable (or at least it should.)