What Happens In A Street Fight?

Shinobi Teikiatsu

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Hey guys, I've been trying to brush up on my application of my techniques, and there's something I've noticed in these fights that I've seen captured on camera: Anybody who knows a martial art, instantly forgets it under pressure.

I know that's a very broad statement, but I figured I needed something to get your attention. I've seen many Bujinkan trainees, I think at around 6th to 4th kyu, who instantly forgot what they learned once they began to swell in a fight. For example, I saw a student fighting a boxer, and the student took a boxing stance, so I imagined he was only doing it to fake out the opponent into think it was going to be a contest of strength (I myself employ this deception, although I'm not quite adept at the boxing stance, so I tend to take bobi). I was very excited to see some Bujinkan Taijutsu in action, but then the strangest thing happened:

The ninja became a boxer.

I don't know exactly when or why, but he seemed to forget everything that he ever learned in ninjutsu and fell straight into just throwing strikes, many of which were ineffective (he fell into the UFC trap of being grabbed against the stomach, and then throwing multiple punches that are all virtually ineffective)

So, here's my question, how does this happen, and how do I make sure I never fall into this rut?

Also, I haven't shut the door on the possibility that this guy simply said he was a Bujinkan student, while not really having any prior training.
 

jks9199

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Hey guys, I've been trying to brush up on my application of my techniques, and there's something I've noticed in these fights that I've seen captured on camera: Anybody who knows a martial art, instantly forgets it under pressure.

I know that's a very broad statement, but I figured I needed something to get your attention. I've seen many Bujinkan trainees, I think at around 6th to 4th kyu, who instantly forgot what they learned once they began to swell in a fight. For example, I saw a student fighting a boxer, and the student took a boxing stance, so I imagined he was only doing it to fake out the opponent into think it was going to be a contest of strength (I myself employ this deception, although I'm not quite adept at the boxing stance, so I tend to take bobi). I was very excited to see some Bujinkan Taijutsu in action, but then the strangest thing happened:

The ninja became a boxer.

I don't know exactly when or why, but he seemed to forget everything that he ever learned in ninjutsu and fell straight into just throwing strikes, many of which were ineffective (he fell into the UFC trap of being grabbed against the stomach, and then throwing multiple punches that are all virtually ineffective)

So, here's my question, how does this happen, and how do I make sure I never fall into this rut?

Also, I haven't shut the door on the possibility that this guy simply said he was a Bujinkan student, while not really having any prior training.
What you describe isn't limited to the Bujinkan...

Under pressure, the mind goes blank. If we're lucky, we revert to our earliest practice.

It takes a very great deal of very deliberately structured practice to really program the mind and body to respond under pressure with our trained responses.

My teacher taught me that, under pressure, a very great master may remember as many as 9 things he'd been taught and practiced. A highly skilled master might remember 3. Many of us? We're lucky at 1... and most likely won't remember any.
 

Jade Tigress

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I can't even count how many times I've seen sparring in any art revert to kickboxing. Where are the techniques? All I can do is echo JKS's response.
 

MahaKaal

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It all comes down to repitition and making your art part of your natural skill set so that without thinking you take the posture/form/techniques from the art you practise and not boxing/kickboxing etc.

I personally feel very uncomfortable in a boxing or kickboxing stance, even if I do take it up (in terms of practising drills or recreating street attacks), I naturally end up using concepts, postures and techniques from my art.
 

JadecloudAlchemist

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JKS hit it on the nail.

During an actual fight your heart will be pounding, your mind may draw a blank and for the most part you will be reacting rather then thinking.

Through experience and training you begin to use the techniques and your body reacts automatic. Also what can occur is if you learned a style before you may feel more comfortable in that style in the example you gave of the person in a Boxing stance.
 

Chris Parker

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Hi,

To get a little technical, under pressure, like in a real fight, you experience an adrenalin surge. It is an old survival instinct, and gives you heightened strength, speed, and resistance to pain. The downside is that it also reduces your ability to perform fine motor skills (including speaking), and higher brain functions. As a result, any skills which require fine motor co-ordination pretty much go out the window unless trained to an almost extreme degree. And the majority of martial arts out there (bujinkan included) focus primarily on fine motor skills, because those are the ones that (pick your own here): - develop discipline
- develop co-ordination
- just plain looks good (although, there are of course others...)

With regard to the Bujinkan student adopting a boxing stance, a common responce to a new, or threatening situation is to mimic, or copy the threatening aspect. The concept is "I'm just like you, you don't want to hurt me!"... but I'm sure you can see that that is not always the safest, or best thing to do. With only a little experience, I would expect thatmost people would revert to a mimicing behaviour, simply because that is what people do. The more experienced you get (or, the less the situation is percieved as threatening), then the easier it will be to maintain your own value set (posture).
 

kidswarrior

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It all comes down to repitition and making your art part of your natural skill set so that without thinking you take the posture/form/techniques from the art you practise and not boxing/kickboxing etc.
Hence the old maxim, 1000 times slow, 1 time fast. Takes a bit of training to get to 1000 reps in a tech, form, posture, whatever. And really, 10,000 is probably more realistic.
 

allenjp

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I saw basically the same thing on "felony fights" once a guy who claimed to be a black belt in Kenpo got completely owned by a street brawler. He looked silly. No effective blocking techniques, looked like he was trying to slap at the guys face, and just got destroyed. Oh, and footwork was non existant. Realizing that he could have been lying about his background, it was very surprising to see.
 

punisher73

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I think another reason for this is training methods. How do you take your basics and forms and translate them into a "free fight"? Think about it, most practice their stuff, but then when they spar they don't use what they practice. You need to do high pressure STRUCTURED drills to amp up the intensity with using your style's techniques. If you don't you are going to fight like any other untrained person.

There is a HUGE tendancy in any style that a person skips the warrior stage and goes straight to the scholar. Or to put it another way, they never learned the way of the tiger and his ferociousness to be able to employ the wisdom of the dragon. There is alot to be said about basic techniques and hard punching AND the mental will to do it. More complex skills come into play later after the opponent has been damaged or there is a big difference in skill.
 

WesternCiv

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As someone who has been lucky enough to have never been in a REAL fight in my life this is a question I've wondered about.

I asked this of my Sensei (a Police Officer and Genukan/KJJR Shodan) during one class when we were working on taisabaki and Omote & Ura Gyaku and he explained it this way ...... in real case the set up is messy, but the opportunity still exists. The attack may be too fast for a proper lateral movement but your training may get you to turn the torso just enough, the attackers arm may be extended just a little bit more than normal and there's the opening. The technique will still work - you just had to wait for the opportunity.

In the Genbukan we have a seperate syllabus for Goshin jutsu - which emphasizes (I think) the more practical application of the techniques we learn in Ninpo/Jujutsu.

I am new to the art and inexperienced in real violent situations but this explanation seemed to make sense to me.
 

forumtengu

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Due to the lack of any realistic type training you are naturally going to revert to something that resembles as closely as possible actual combat. With on-going training against resisting training partners you will learn to react naturally to stress situations. Regretfully you will be hard pressed to find a X-Kan dojo offering you that. But they do exist :)
 

Zeno

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I think it also has to deal with confidence. If you lose confidence in yourself in a fight, you can't possibly hope to properly execute what you've learned. When the threat of getting yourself beaten bloody is actually there, right in your face, a person tends to question things. That can especially happen if you DO try a technique and it's thwarted. The evolution of doubt.

"Why didn't that work?"
"Maybe this will work..."
"But what if it fails?"
"What if everything fails and I get beaten?"
"Well if his boxing is standing up against my techniques, then maybe..."

Then you'll see a ninja become a boxer.

But I'll tell you this, in my opinion, if you're thinking like that in a fight, you haven't been trained well enough. I believe a real master will use a failed or thwarted technique as an opportunity for a whole different attack.

And as savagek said...

Please note it takes between 90-120 hours of practice for reflex like skill acquisition to occur.

Muscle memory. If you've drilled 90-120 hours of EACH technique into your mind and your body, it should pop up in a fight like a reflex. Then you get the "How the heck did that happen?" sensation, then you realize what your training has actually done for you. Very important not to tip too far to the opposite side of the scale. While doubt in your ability can get you killed, so can pride in it.
 

nitflegal

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Being a little shallow learning curve kind of guy, I used to walk home at 2 AM through crappy parts of town to get back to my apartment, so I got a chance to play a bit. Same when I worked security at a club, although usually the trouble-makers were obvious well in advance. For me at least, my thinking shut down and I went to going by emotion, which is one of the reasons I always liked the emotional components of the kihon happo as it used to be pushed. If I was scared spitless I was going to function as such, and so backpedaling was what I was going to do. Mentally screaming at myself to go in and kick the guy resulted only in half-hearted technique. I certainly wasn't at the point in my training where I could choose how to feel.

Beyond that I found my thought processes were awfully basic, I certainly wasn't planning strategy beyond 'I think that guy is going to be the first to swing at me". One reassuring thing was that the techniques do pop out spontaneously, even though they might be awfully sloppy. The other nice thing is that a sloppy zenpogeri or happoken works pretty well.

Matt
 

mook jong man

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hi im from the wing chun system as someone said earlier i think you revert right back to the simplest moves for us it is chain punching, low heel kick to the knee or shin and hook kick to the thigh followed by elbows. i also think getting the crap slapped out of you in chi sau sparring by senior instructors helps a lot too because you learn to take a hit and keep coming forward and still maintain your stance i think if you never got hit before you might go into shock. also from doing chi sau you seem to always have this desire to be going forward and getting in real close. basically you just drill in the basics over and over again. i havent trained in wing chun since 2000 and i still find myself half in a stance when im out sometimes. if youve done it for years its gonna be part of you.
 

Omar B

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I've been in a couple fights in my life and have talked to other karatekas who have so I have knowledge of this phenomenon. Once my instructor's son (who was a 3rd degree Black Belt in Choi Kwang Do) got owned in a fight that broke out on his way home from school and he pointed out that he fell into the trap of brawling with the person.

I have gotten into fights and prevailed by remembering my techinques. I liken it to practising my guitar (or whatever intrument you play) I practise the same scales, modes, chords and songs over and over till it becomes automatic. At this point the only time I make concious effort is in learning a new song of technique.

This ties into muscle memory. Just like practising with your fingers on your instrument in it's application (playing) you must also practise your martial art as applied till it also become automatic.

I'm a big proponent of sparring using what you practise with. My fighting looks like kata in may cases but it's what I've practiosed more, what's programed in and how I practise in class.
 

thardey

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All this is reminding me of an interesting thing they found at Gettysburg after the the battle:

A large number of muskets were loaded repeatedly without being fired. Usually 2 or 3 balls with powder. One was found loaded to the top with something like 23 loads on top of each other.

When the soldiers started to panic, they reverted to what they had been trained the most to do: load their guns as quickly as they could. The just forgot the important step of pulling the trigger.

Same thing happens under stress to any of us. You'll go back to the sequence you've spent the most time repeating.

There was another find that changed the way LEO's practiced shooting. In the days when revolvers were common, most of them put the empty shells in their coat pockets, instead of dumping them out on the floor, because they didn't want to pick them up later. After a couple of gunfights, LEO's were found with empty shell casings in their pockets. They had wasted time doing what they had trained themselves to do.
 

jks9199

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All this is reminding me of an interesting thing they found at Gettysburg after the the battle:

A large number of muskets were loaded repeatedly without being fired. Usually 2 or 3 balls with powder. One was found loaded to the top with something like 23 loads on top of each other.

When the soldiers started to panic, they reverted to what they had been trained the most to do: load their guns as quickly as they could. The just forgot the important step of pulling the trigger.

Same thing happens under stress to any of us. You'll go back to the sequence you've spent the most time repeating.

There was another find that changed the way LEO's practiced shooting. In the days when revolvers were common, most of them put the empty shells in their coat pockets, instead of dumping them out on the floor, because they didn't want to pick them up later. After a couple of gunfights, LEO's were found with empty shell casings in their pockets. They had wasted time doing what they had trained themselves to do.
The unfired, but heavily reloaded weapons aren't limited to Gettysburg, or even the Civil War. I suggest you check out Dave Grossman's work. He'd argue that it wasn't merely a matter of rehearsing loading rapidly, but actual conscious or unconcious refusal to fire. (See, especially, On Killing where he directly addresses these cases.)

It's a different phenomenon from the police reloading/brass in the pockets issue. In those cases, the cops did just what they'd practiced on the range. They fired, then emptied their brass into their hand and placed it in their pocket -- because this saved them hassles on the range when they had to clean up the brass. In the street, the time this took proved fatal, despite their theoretical practice of just dropping the brass.
 

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