Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Martial Arts vs Self Defense

Howdy Folks

There is an ongoing debate in the world of martial arts about this art or that art being better for self defense. In my mind some arts may be more geared towards self defense than others and will more than likely give you a better chance of defending yourself in a street attack. I know that is a very general statement so let me drill down a bit more.

Most martial arts schools train you in a safe environment. You practice with a willing uke and do your best to learn techniques without injuring your partner who probably has to go to work the next day and needs the proper function of his or her arms, legs, fingers, etc..

The truth is that in most street fights, (and I have been in many so I know from experience what I'm talking about), they can be very fast, very brutal and the adrenaline is pumping so hard you are going all out and more! There may be multiple attackers and weapons involved. When this happens all bets are off! The term we like to use in our Combat Hapkido Club is "Junkyard Dog". When you find yourself in the heat of battle you often revert to more primal instincts. Survival is a built in response for most people and they will scratch, bite, kick, headbutt, stomp, pick up a rock or a chair and on and on to survive!

If you watch videos of real attacks on the interweb  you will see that most folks just go nuts!

Now, let me say this in earnest! Training is good and if you train enough, you can burn some of these techniques into your autonomic response in a fight. Simple, easy to go to techniques like an armbar are fast and effective.  It can be applied in many different ways not just what you have seen on TV at a UFC event.  There are other great techniques that you can use and may well help you survive an encounter on the street.  We like to say, have as many tools in your martial arts tool box as you can. When pressed, pull out your favorite ones and use them.

In closing, don't expect that just because you are a black belt in something, you will automatically win in a street fight. You may not. Street fights are dirty and unless you train at a dojo who trains you to fight dirty you may wind up hurt.  Remember your best weapon is your brain and you can best win a battle by avoiding it altogether. I will write more on this subject soon in an email blast.  Until then,


JD Pearce

2nd Dan Aikido

2nd Dan Combat Hapkido


Jeffrey Flagg said...

JD, I happen to agree with all of your opening remarks.
What follows is simply my opinion on what constitutes effective self defense training:
Effective survival self-defense training is achieved when it includes performing the fighting techniques under much duress. Repeatedly incorporating adrenal stress self-defense training forces students to recall and execute techniques while experiencing the mind and body numbing effects of an adrenaline dump. By applying this method of training, students learn quickly that even when a technique is properly applied it is very common for your attacker to exhibit extraordinary joint flexibility and a very high tolerance to pain. This unusual toughness is caused by your attacker also being pumped up with adrenaline.

Attributes of Pure Self Defense Training
In my opinion, the most effective purely self defense systems engage these methods:
• teaches situational awareness and survival mindset
• trains to control the adrenaline dump brought on by fear
• teaches a minimal number of extremely simple yet effective techniques
• all techniques must be easily recalled and actually work under high adrenal states
• techniques are practiced not only in studio but outdoors in street clothes
• all 30 most common street attacks are addressed
• techniques work regardless of attackers body type
• includes training to defeat multiple attackers
• simple enough to learn in weeks or months instead of years.

Jeffrey Flagg said...

I believe that man’s quest for the perfect self defense system emerges from our primal human impulse to survive. When presented with a life threatening experience, our natural survival instincts take over and will do anything and everything necessary to stay alive.

Our Greatest Enemy
Truly effective self defense training is much more than just learning how to avoid injury or death, it is learning to harness our natural instincts to survive and to control our greatest enemy: fear. In a real life threatening confrontation, the natural result of fear is a massive adrenaline dump in the body that causes us to stiffen up. We immediately lose fine motor coordination and experience tunnel vision, our cognitive thinking is impaired and instantly a fight or flight response is triggered. These effects can be devastating on anyone but especially on a person who is not prepared for it. These effects on the mind and body can’t really be stopped either, even by highly experienced black belts.

This raises some questions:
• Do today’s traditional martial arts teach effective skills against real attacks?
• Do martial arts students fall prey to the effects of fear induced adrenaline dumps?
• Is it really possible to train people to control the effects of an adrenaline dump?

Jeffrey Flagg said...

Three Categories of Martial Arts
All martial arts can be placed into three categories, of course with some overlapping elements yet each category is distinctly different. There are cultural fighting arts, combative sports and self defense.

• Cultural Fighting Arts Some good examples are traditional Karate, Aikido, Kenpo, Hapkido, Eskrima, Ju-Jitsu, Kung Fu and many others. Cultural fighting arts have been developed throughout history by almost every civilization. These arts were created to meet the specific threats that were encountered during those days in history. All are fun to do, very interesting and usually provide an education into history, world culture and martial theory. The historic cultural fighting arts most popular today tend to employ acrobatic kata, high flying kicks and throws, intricate joint locking and dependence on striking specific tiny pressure points. In most of these systems the very complicated techniques work quite well but only with lots of practice in a controlled studio. Unfortunately they are usually far too tricky to execute under the extreme duress of a physical street attack. To learn proper form, most students spend years training under a qualified instructor. So where it boils down to pure self defense, most cultural fighting arts taught today contain weaknesses inherent in their complexity of technique. Usually great care goes into preserving a cultural martial art to it's original traditional content so in a hundred years it is exactly the same.

• Combative Sports A few of the systems in this category include Olympic Judo, Tae Kwon Do, Jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai kick boxing, all forms of wrestling, western boxing, and most recently mixed martial arts. In combative sports, participants voluntarily fight under a set of rules that ensures they won’t be killed. Fighters try to prove the effectiveness of their methods and skill in competitive live combat. The final outcome of these competitions is either their techniques work and they win or they don’t work and they lose. Combative sports can be very useful methods of training and conditioning for self defense application under battle stress conditions but where it boils down to pure self defense, the rules, regulations, and referees required in combative sports are never in effect when an attacker is trying to harm or kill a victim in a real street attack. This makes combative sports not ideal systems for pure self defense either.

• Self-Defense This category has only one purpose and that is to survive any attack. A few examples in this category include Krav Maga, Green Beret Combatives, the S.P.E.A.R. System, Combat Hapkido, Jeet Kune Do among others. Self defense is defined as the act of defending one's person when physically attacked. This sounds so basic but what’s tricky is that there are hundreds of ways to be attacked and training for every situation is nearly impossible. The best self defense fighting systems teach a combat mind set along with proper conditioning and technique. It is imperative that the most effective self defense training in the world teaches that survival is dependant on the manipulation of fear. Street attack scenario based training is necessary to practice turning adrenaline into something useful under any conditions to preserve our life when that time comes.

Unknown said...

Jeffrey, we'll stated. I couldn't have said it any better. For the record, the SOCP program ( Special Operations Combatives Program) developed by Greg Thompson is the SOF standard now. It used to be L.I.N.E.S, founded by Ron Donvito back in the day. Both are combat minded systems designed to destroy an enemy. The MACP (Modern Army Combatives Program) is slighlsl lest invested until you get to level II, Tactical Combatives (am certified as LvL II) and I can assure you training is brutal. At one point I had three fractured ribs. Loved every second of it. Realistic and hardcore as it gets. Studied L.I.N.E.S. out of Bragg '02-'05, and Krav '00-'01. Bother brutal for the receiving enemy. Cheers!

Michael Harris said...

**both are brutal**