Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Tactics, Techniques and Mindset continued

Last post I talked about the importance of learning tactics and mind-set along with techniques.

As promised I want to go into why that may not be enough in this post.

For years I've argued with people in the martial arts (some Big Names) about whether sports versions of the traditional martial arts are valid in the street. They're stance - no pun intended - is that they are whereas I think they're not. The arguments I've heard is that they, in the sporting arena, are dealing with the stress and adrenalin of using their techniques under fire and, that if they have the speed to outscore someone, they can use that speed hitting someone in the street.

Here's my problem with all of that.

If we agree that we need techniques and tactics and mindset to win then we have to explore whether the techniques, tactics and mind-set are the same in the sporting version as the street version.

Well, to put it bluntly, most of the techniques I teach in Fight Survival are those outlawed in competition. To compete with someone we have to make it safe. To make it safe we have to eliminate techniques that have a propensity to severely injure someone else. We take out eye gouging, biting, small joint locks, leg breaks, throat punching, knives and weapons etc. In the street however, in a life and death struggle with three home invaders for example, they're exactly the type of techniques I'll be resorting to.

Competitions on the other hand, in a bid to please audiences, encourage spectacular gymnastic style moves by awarding more points for more difficulty. From tournaments in the seventies, noted for their almost exclusive use of front kicks and reverse punches, we now see moves that would put the average Olympic gymnast to shame.

The techniques therefore are clearly different in the real world and in the ring.

What about tactics?

Two common tactics you'll see at tournaments all the time are a) feigning injury to get the other guy disqualified for excessive contact and, b) getting half a point (what the hell is half a point?) ahead and keeping away from the other guy till the bell goes. Think you can use either of those two in a biker bar? Hardly

In the street we see an entirely different set of tactics. We see people hitting victims when they're not ready - or task fixated - and we see them ganging up on someone to outnumber them. While they're both incredibly effective strategies in the street I can't imagine seeing them anytime soon in the local boxing tournament. Imagine how well you'd do in the UFC or Pride if all you had to do was hit the current champ over the head from behind with a baseball bat while he was signing autographs? What about climbing into the ring with Oscar de LaHoya but bringing along twenty of your mates to help you?

Alright, so the tactics are also different.

Lastly we get to mindset.

Quite simply the mindset in a sporting event is "If I don't win I don't go home with a trophy." In a fight for your life in a parking deck somewhere it's more "If I don't win, I won't go home...ever." Take a bunch of your mates and ask them if they'd like to go paint balling in the woods. Chances are they'll all say yes. Now, see how many of the same bunch are willing to go down the local recruiting office and volunteer for a tour of Iraq. Unless you run with the sort of guys I do my bet is most of them will cry off. Our tournament fighter, with doctors in attendance, rules to protect him, an equally skilled opponent and safe techniques isn't really in fear for his life and that's the difference.

So, tactics, techniques and mindset are all different depending on whether you're in a sporting environment or a lethal one. Don't let the local instructor con you in to believing he's teaching self defense if he's not. Study hard the techniques, the tactics and the mind-set that they're teaching you and ask yourself the important question if you thinks it's preparing you for a real life and death struggle.

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