TKD is Weak on the street as a self defense?

Dirty Dog

MT Senior Moderator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Messages
17,662
Reaction score
4,521
Location
Pueblo West, CO
Ummm...no. It is exactly what I teach, and I teach it for a reason. Head kicks are nice and flashy and showy and great for practicing technique, but they are not practical for self defense. Your balance is better and your kicks are stronger if you keep them at the belt line or lower.

You may teach it, but that doesn't mean it's not urban myth. If you can kick high effectively in sparring, you can do it in a self defense situation. High kicks may very well not be your 'go to' kick in either situation, but that doesn't mean they're ineffective or impractical.
 

DaveB

Master Black Belt
Joined
Jun 19, 2015
Messages
1,243
Reaction score
291
There's a whole lot of foundational discussion we would need to have before we can talk about this. I guess if I try to sum it up, it would be to say that, as a person who's made a career out of teaching people to do things, I have concerns about most "self defense" specific schools. If the outcomes of the program are specific and objectively measurable, AND the skills being taught will be used "for real" by the students, great. This could be a close quarters program taught to LEO. It could be a women's self defense course for college students. Whatever it might be.

General programs, where you invent stuff that is very unlikely to ever occur... those are problematic.

So, where we talk about whether someone can kick on wet grass, that's more of a sales pitch to me. Selling a feature without benefit. Unless, of course, you're a cop who is in an area where you are likely to be tussling on wet grass from time to time. And even then, occasional practice on actual wet grass will be less useful than frequent practice on slippery mats.

Where I am a proponent of sport based training of any kind over non-sport based training, is that it is a venue for application to people who aren't professionally violent. And even if you are professionally violent, sport training is great for skill development.

Sport is not an essential element of a good training program. Application is essential. All sport is application. Not all application is sport.

Training, no matter how realistic, is not application.

So that we can finally put the wet grass stuff to bed, can you agree that awareness of environment is a more pressing issue for SD schools. I'm not just talking about bumping into people while sparring on mats, though I get that helps you learn, but everything from exit points, choke points, obstacles and trip hazards are not unreasonable things to learn awareness and even the use of if your aim is self defence.

He'll even if you don't agree with their usefulness, it is a difference between a sport club and an SD club, right?

I would not expect and have never heard of a school spending 6 weeks training to get good at kicking on wet grass. This and any similar points are straw men.

Conversely I would not be surprised if a SD class, maybe once per term, did a class outside just to put environment in mind. Or maybe once a month put obstacles around to simulate a pub and did a role play, again to look at risk assessment and use of environment.

I would not expect to have any such considerations raised in an Olympic style taekwondo competition focussed class, and for the time i regularly trained tkd at a competition based club I never did.

You see this nonsense debate happened not because I thought kicking on grass was impossible etc, but because a general point about the differences between SD and sport tkd schools had a single element plucked from it and argued out of context.

As I've said many times, I agree with the sport training statements and the point about application.

It seems we only disagree on what SD specific training actually entails.
 

DaveB

Master Black Belt
Joined
Jun 19, 2015
Messages
1,243
Reaction score
291
Ummm...no. It is exactly what I teach, and I teach it for a reason. Head kicks are nice and flashy and showy and great for practicing technique, but they are not practical for self defense. Your balance is better and your kicks are stronger if you keep them at the belt line or lower.

One of my points of semi agreement with Drop Bear: In self defence as in all things kick head height if you have the skill knowledge and ability to kick head height successfully. If not, don't.
 

Paul_D

Master Black Belt
Joined
Sep 25, 2014
Messages
1,240
Reaction score
437
Location
England
They are not ineffective, but they carry a higher risk, in terms of leaving you in a worse position should they go wrong. Karate kata were designed for civilian self protection, there’s a reason they are no head height kicks.
 
Last edited:

Steve

Mostly Harmless
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
18,383
Reaction score
3,981
Location
Covington, WA
So that we can finally put the wet grass stuff to bed, can you agree that awareness of environment is a more pressing issue for SD schools. I'm not just talking about bumping into people while sparring on mats, though I get that helps you learn, but everything from exit points, choke points, obstacles and trip hazards are not unreasonable things to learn awareness and even the use of if your aim is self defence.

He'll even if you don't agree with their usefulness, it is a difference between a sport club and an SD club, right?

I would not expect and have never heard of a school spending 6 weeks training to get good at kicking on wet grass. This and any similar points are straw men.

Conversely I would not be surprised if a SD class, maybe once per term, did a class outside just to put environment in mind. Or maybe once a month put obstacles around to simulate a pub and did a role play, again to look at risk assessment and use of environment.

I would not expect to have any such considerations raised in an Olympic style taekwondo competition focussed class, and for the time i regularly trained tkd at a competition based club I never did.

You see this nonsense debate happened not because I thought kicking on grass was impossible etc, but because a general point about the differences between SD and sport tkd schools had a single element plucked from it and argued out of context.

As I've said many times, I agree with the sport training statements and the point about application.

It seems we only disagree on what SD specific training actually entails.
I don't know how much we disagree on, honestly. At this point, I want to start by noting that the above has nothing to do with evidence based feedback, but that's okay. Let's move on. :)

I'm writing this over a period of time a minute here and there, and I'm going to warn you in advance, it is likely to be rambling, might be kind of confusing and possibly even repetitive. Just bear with me.

I can certainly agree that some people who have a specific need must understand those things. For most people, those are not useful or practical skills. The ones that are, such as being aware of what is around you, are most effectively learned as a byproduct of learning the primary skills.

I'll try again to just explain the problem I have with "self defense" training. I am not a fan of traditional teaching models. The "blah, blah, yak, yak, practice, practice, test... repeat" model. That's how many schools work. It's how some colleges and universities work. It's how a lot of corporate training works, and it's how most self-defense training works, too. You learn, you practice, you test, and you learn some more... practice some more and test again.

So, when we talk about self defense training, it's not really what is being taught... the specific things like situational awareness or whatever. Those might be useful... might not. Rather, that mistakes in what is being taught are the byproduct of other mistakes... mistakes in identifying desired outcome that lead to a lack of application which drives mistakes in the content of the courses.

For example, a white collar employee who lives in a safe area, works in a secured building and doesn't hang out in bars, take drugs or whatever, will not realize much benefit from a traditional self defense course. They are learning skills that they have no way to apply, and will likely never need. Now, it may be that they could do things that will actually help them reduce their risk of being victims of a violent crime. But self defense training as you describe it above isn't it. And the training model I describe above becomes the default (yak, yak, test, repeat), because literally every aspect of the training is artificial. There is no vehicle for applying the skills, which is essential if you want to actually develop skills.

And further, because there is no vehicle for applying the skills, the community of experts becomes diluted. In other words, you have teachers who have no experience outside of the training model, who learned from teachers who had no experience outside of the training model.

I am a proponent of situated or experiential learning. Humans learn by doing. So, training should as closely mimic application as possible. Application should be fully integrated into the training. Coaching, reflection, feedback... whatever you might want to call it, should be a huge part of the training, particularly where the trainee fails (which should be often). AND, a huge part of this should be participation with a community of people all applying the skills, where you start on the edges and sort of work your way up the food chain. In this way, you have a progression where you essentially learn a new skill, apply the new skill, receive feedback and correction, apply the skills, receive feedback.

Situated learning, or experiential learning (they aren't exactly the same thing, but they're close), are very well suited for physical skill development. All sports are, by definition, situated learning. Corporate training can be designed this way, too. Apprenticeships are a great example of situated learning.

Bringing this all back around. The question is, how might we best teach someone to fight on slippery ground? I'd say the question is far too specific. There is a lot of well designed training out there. I've heard some of the guys here describe it. Some is crap, but some isn't. Whether it's "good" training, though, is another matter. Skills are only useful in context. I could buy a Ferrari and I'm pretty sure I could drive it around and look cool. But getting the most out of that car is probably beyond me. I could take some classes, sure. But I'm jut not going to log the hours on the track to ever get close to it's potential. My primary barrier is skill. Now, a professional race car driver could certainly get the most out of that car... on a track. But even here, the barrier is context. He has the skills, but they are not helpful to him unless he's on a track. Could the professional race car driver crush it in a Ferrari? Sure. Likely. But they probably won't. Any Ferrari they might drive will be designed for their context. And on the street, the environment is limiting.

One last example. One area we train new supervisors in is leave management. We have unions, a contract, and there are employee rights that are sometimes in conflict with management rights. So, the old way of doing the training is to go through literally every leave type. Annual leave... this is what it is... this is what it does... these are the rules. Sick leave... this is what it is.. this is what it does Military leave... this is what it is... this is what it does...

There are dozens... FMLA, FFLA, Court Leave, Advanced Leave, Bereavement... etc. it was very ineffective training. Instead, what we do now is we teach them the resources... we show them where the rules are. Then we work through real life scenarios that they are likely to encounter. An employee comes into your office and says that his son is sick at school. What do you do? An employee just told you her guard unit is being deployed. A new employee with no leave accrued was in a car accident. An employee is abusing his leave. There is coaching and feedback, and then they go out and actually manage the leave. If we've done our job right, we have provided them with scenarios that reflect what they are actually doing. Then, about 6 months later, we bring them back into training for more now that they have some experience. And so on.

The key here is that 1: the training model makes sense because 2: it reflects what the person will actually be doing. You need both, and the one is a by product of the other. So, the point is, you don't need to teach someone to fight on wet grass, if you teach them to fight and they can gain experience in a variety of environments, including slippery surfaces. The wet grass takes care of itself tacitly.
 

DaveB

Master Black Belt
Joined
Jun 19, 2015
Messages
1,243
Reaction score
291
I don't know how much we disagree on, honestly. At this point, I want to start by noting that the above has nothing to do with evidence based feedback, but that's okay. Let's move on. :)

I'm writing this over a period of time a minute here and there, and I'm going to warn you in advance, it is likely to be rambling, might be kind of confusing and possibly even repetitive. Just bear with me.

I can certainly agree that some people who have a specific need must understand those things. For most people, those are not useful or practical skills. The ones that are, such as being aware of what is around you, are most effectively learned as a byproduct of learning the primary skills.

I'll try again to just explain the problem I have with "self defense" training. I am not a fan of traditional teaching models. The "blah, blah, yak, yak, practice, practice, test... repeat" model. That's how many schools work. It's how some colleges and universities work. It's how a lot of corporate training works, and it's how most self-defense training works, too. You learn, you practice, you test, and you learn some more... practice some more and test again.

So, when we talk about self defense training, it's not really what is being taught... the specific things like situational awareness or whatever. Those might be useful... might not. Rather, that mistakes in what is being taught are the byproduct of other mistakes... mistakes in identifying desired outcome that lead to a lack of application which drives mistakes in the content of the courses.

For example, a white collar employee who lives in a safe area, works in a secured building and doesn't hang out in bars, take drugs or whatever, will not realize much benefit from a traditional self defense course. They are learning skills that they have no way to apply, and will likely never need. Now, it may be that they could do things that will actually help them reduce their risk of being victims of a violent crime. But self defense training as you describe it above isn't it. And the training model I describe above becomes the default (yak, yak, test, repeat), because literally every aspect of the training is artificial. There is no vehicle for applying the skills, which is essential if you want to actually develop skills.

And further, because there is no vehicle for applying the skills, the community of experts becomes diluted. In other words, you have teachers who have no experience outside of the training model, who learned from teachers who had no experience outside of the training model.

I am a proponent of situated or experiential learning. Humans learn by doing. So, training should as closely mimic application as possible. Application should be fully integrated into the training. Coaching, reflection, feedback... whatever you might want to call it, should be a huge part of the training, particularly where the trainee fails (which should be often). AND, a huge part of this should be participation with a community of people all applying the skills, where you start on the edges and sort of work your way up the food chain. In this way, you have a progression where you essentially learn a new skill, apply the new skill, receive feedback and correction, apply the skills, receive feedback.

Situated learning, or experiential learning (they aren't exactly the same thing, but they're close), are very well suited for physical skill development. All sports are, by definition, situated learning. Corporate training can be designed this way, too. Apprenticeships are a great example of situated learning.

Bringing this all back around. The question is, how might we best teach someone to fight on slippery ground? I'd say the question is far too specific. There is a lot of well designed training out there. I've heard some of the guys here describe it. Some is crap, but some isn't. Whether it's "good" training, though, is another matter. Skills are only useful in context. I could buy a Ferrari and I'm pretty sure I could drive it around and look cool. But getting the most out of that car is probably beyond me. I could take some classes, sure. But I'm jut not going to log the hours on the track to ever get close to it's potential. My primary barrier is skill. Now, a professional race car driver could certainly get the most out of that car... on a track. But even here, the barrier is context. He has the skills, but they are not helpful to him unless he's on a track. Could the professional race car driver crush it in a Ferrari? Sure. Likely. But they probably won't. Any Ferrari they might drive will be designed for their context. And on the street, the environment is limiting.

One last example. One area we train new supervisors in is leave management. We have unions, a contract, and there are employee rights that are sometimes in conflict with management rights. So, the old way of doing the training is to go through literally every leave type. Annual leave... this is what it is... this is what it does... these are the rules. Sick leave... this is what it is.. this is what it does Military leave... this is what it is... this is what it does...

There are dozens... FMLA, FFLA, Court Leave, Advanced Leave, Bereavement... etc. it was very ineffective training. Instead, what we do now is we teach them the resources... we show them where the rules are. Then we work through real life scenarios that they are likely to encounter. An employee comes into your office and says that his son is sick at school. What do you do? An employee just told you her guard unit is being deployed. A new employee with no leave accrued was in a car accident. An employee is abusing his leave. There is coaching and feedback, and then they go out and actually manage the leave. If we've done our job right, we have provided them with scenarios that reflect what they are actually doing. Then, about 6 months later, we bring them back into training for more now that they have some experience. And so on.

The key here is that 1: the training model makes sense because 2: it reflects what the person will actually be doing. You need both, and the one is a by product of the other. So, the point is, you don't need to teach someone to fight on wet grass, if you teach them to fight and they can gain experience in a variety of environments, including slippery surfaces. The wet grass takes care of itself tacitly.

Well that was a waste of time. I may as well have not posted a word.
 
Last edited:

Steve

Mostly Harmless
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
18,383
Reaction score
3,981
Location
Covington, WA
Well that was a waste of time. I may as well have not posted a word.
Now I know you’re a bite sized chunks guys. I’ll talk to you in short sentences from now on. No more than a few at a time.

Twitter version: You don’t need to teach someone to fight on wet grass explicitly in order to prepare them to fight on wet grass. If you teach them skills they actually use, and to be flexible and creative, they will learn to solve problems.
 

gpseymour

MT Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
26,237
Reaction score
7,828
Location
Hendersonville, NC
Yeah three points. Just sometimes it takes me a few goes to get the concept concise.
Okay, I'll do my best to address them here.

One. The argument that a gym or a dojo is a sterilized world where real life doesn't happen is a fallacy. Arguing from that idea makes any logic from there basically wrong.
It's inarguable that there's more variability outside a dojo than inside one.

Two. People have a vested intrest in beating up the difference between the gym/dojo and everywhere else because it makes their own methods seem more relevant than they are.
I agree that's a problem in some cases. I never "beat up" the difference between them. I pointed out the difference, and something I use to see how much difference part of that difference makes.

Three. You are too sensitive to have real conversations about these topics properly and so don't really get these concepts. Because sometimes they are just ego destroying hard truths. And it sucks to have to face that.
No, I just get frustrated when someone - in this case, you - attacks my training for something it isn't. You did that on at least three occasions back when we were discussing the application of Aiki principles (claiming at least twice that my training was based upon hoping the other guy was awful, that I only ever trained using made-up scenarios, etc. - ignoring that I'd pointed out already the parts of our training methods that weren't at all like that). In this case, you spent a ton of effort trying to bash me for trying things on wet grass because it's more slippery than mats - at times claiming I'd said kicks were useless on grass, and other times claiming wet grass isn't slippery.

What you seem to miss is that I really want you to have a good point. I don't practice and teach the same way I did 10 years ago, and that's because some people made some very good points about weaknesses in my approach (some actively, some by demonstrating a better approach in seminars, etc.). So, when you challenge my training approach, I'm looking to learn something from it, to see if there's something I need to change. When you bash my training by bashing something that's not my training, that's no help to me, at all. That's when I get frustrated. What you think is me getting all ego-hurt, is me wishing you'd make a point about what I do, rather than arguing strawmen and/or making ludicrous statements (like wet grass isn't slippery).

So while a good self defence system would carefully work the nuances between what works for them in a controlled environmemt using basically labratory testing and well thought out hypothesis. people don't. Either because they just don't have the grounding to understand what they are doing or are to biased by self intrest to care what sort of result they get.
See, this is one of those strawmen. We do actually do some of that. And some of that examination is done by working outside the dojo, to see what changes. You know, like working on grass, maybe even wet grass.

And so back to TKD. yes it can work in self defence provided it works to its strengths and reduces its weaknesses. None of which is its inability to function on wet grass.

That is just made up.
I agree with that. I also agree that the post that started this was really about whether that person's TKD worked on wet grass or not. My round kicks didn't work reliably on wet grass the last time I tried them there in a relatively live setting. As we agreed before, that's about my round kicks, not about the effectiveness of round kicks, in general. I do consider it inarguable, though, that the surface being more slippery (wet grass is, on average, more slippery than dojo mats - even wet ones) does change the math. That's true of other techniques, and it's up to each person to figure out if the change of math makes it worth changing decisions. For most of my techniques, it's not worth changing. For those kicks, it was.
 

gpseymour

MT Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
26,237
Reaction score
7,828
Location
Hendersonville, NC
Yeah. Good old no 2. The self defence marketing machine. This is why boxing doesn't work. (Broken hands) BJJ doesn't work (the floor is lava) Judo doesn't work (T shirts)

And yet you get popped in the head with a tornado kick and you are still going to have a bad day.


By the way. Just apart from that line of reasoning that he will do this then I will do that and so on.

The head which automatically goes forwards to defend a punch breaking your hand so badly you can't use it at all. Goes backwards for the palm heel so you don't wrist lock yourself.
You've confounded using a tornado kick with defending against one. The question isn't whether one would work if it landed, but whether the math (chance of good outcome vs. chance of bad outcome) makes the technique worth it. And that's not a SD concept - it's a MA concept. Your fighters have to go through that same decision for the octagon/ring, just as you when working the door. It's why some techniques are fun, but not really useful for SD/fight/ring/whatever, even if they can work. And then, every now and then, someone will find a situation where that math is suddenly worth it.
 

gpseymour

MT Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
26,237
Reaction score
7,828
Location
Hendersonville, NC
Catching kicks cos of the rules?

Is this where I just drop the mike? Street fight with kicks on freaking ice. Ok mabye concrete. Looks slippery as all get out.
Odd - I couldn't tell if that was slippery or not. In a couple of places, folks seemed to slip like it was icy, but then there was that stupid flying kick thing by the third attacker, and he didn't slip (and he had every right to). The defender is either someone with really good balance, so he never slipped a single step, or he just did a better job picking places to put his feet.
 

gpseymour

MT Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
26,237
Reaction score
7,828
Location
Hendersonville, NC
Do you really think drop bear’s argument is “all you need for anything is sport?” If so, I have completely misunderstood him for a long time. I always thought he was about avoiding appeals to authority, conjecture and the hazards of speculation.

I think you're giving yourselves way too much credit. In your joke, the statistician is the one challenging presumptions and tenuous generalities. The only person I see around here doing that consistently is Drop Bear.

The argument I see from Drop Bear (right or wrong) is essentially this:

No technique is appropriate all the time.
It is impossible to anticipate every variable in a street fight.
If it is impossible to anticipate every variable in a street fight, it is also impossible to train for every contingency (whether that's wet grass or lava or a full grown mountain gorilla).
Mental elasticity (or I would say developing ability to improvise) allows one to account for unforeseen variables in a street fight.
There are ways to train that develop mental elasticity.

It's not that complicated an argument, as I see it. His response is generally very predictable. If you say, "X technique never works in Y situation." He will say, "How do you know that?" A reasonable question, I think.

for what it's worth, I agree with him for the most part. I think there are ways other than MMA training to develop the ability to improvise in real time, but not any that are better.
Yet, DB is the person saying there's no reason to train on grass, even wet grass, because that's not useful information. He shows a video or two of someone doing something, and that settles it to him, as if that means everyone's technique, if at all similar, will be viable in all situations, even if not similar.
 

gpseymour

MT Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
26,237
Reaction score
7,828
Location
Hendersonville, NC
OK so I went on to the grass which was pretty Dewey. And honestly my kick was more effected by my ability to do the kick. Than being on grass.
This is true. But I never heard anyone say otherwise. The grass changes the math some. How much "some" is, and whether that changes the decision to use that technique will vary by individual capability (including what other tools are available).
 

gpseymour

MT Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
26,237
Reaction score
7,828
Location
Hendersonville, NC
Pretty dewey or so rain-soaked that you're tearing the grass into the soggy mud?
IME, dewey makes for slippery grass, and that was the point of the discussion. Slippery ground (with or without grass in it) is a different surface.
 

gpseymour

MT Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
26,237
Reaction score
7,828
Location
Hendersonville, NC
To he clear, I'm proposing that you cannot anticipate every variable in training. I.e. You cannot anticipate all the variables that can occur in real life. This is the "whatabout" game. And while fun, its not all that practical. It just turbs into discussions like this. What about on wet grass? What if it's super muddy and slick? What if the guy has a knife? What if he has a bazooka?


Simply put, I think most martial artists fail even to get to a functional, application level of competence in a single context, much less a higher level of expertise thar would allow you to transfer that competence to other contexts. if you cannot reliably use technique in one context, you will not be able to apply it to different contexts.

And also, it works the other way, positively. Functional ability in one context can be transferred to another.
I agree with your overall point, for the most part, Steve. But I know many MA who do some experimentation with varying environments without either thinking they've covered everything or attempting to do so. This includes things like my random forays into grassy, paved, and rocky areas; Tony's experiments on couches and car seats (not at all what it sounds like, to the folks who haven't read those threads); annual trips some schools make to train at beaches and lakes, etc. As you point out, what's learned in one variation can translate to others, so having a few variations gives information that covers many more. Having only one environment doesn't often give the input to figure out what will matter when the situation changes. If someone uses their MA on a regular basis on the street (defense, LEO, bouncer, whatever), then they get that input in those situations. For those of us who don't get regular use in the street, many of us find a supplement helps fill some of that gap.
 

Latest Discussions

Top