Sunday, September 30, 2012

What Doesn't Kill You....

One punch, one kill! Techniques too deadly to really practice on humans! Neck, joint and bone breaking locks and strikes! On the list goes of the skills you will gain by practicing any given Martial Art, Combat Sport or Self Protection System.

Master of Illusion

 In over three decades of teaching all three major fields of Human Behavioral Violence study  I have found one very interesting fact about training. The fact that there is a big difference between the ILLUSION the prospective student has about what being a skilled Martial Artist, Combat Athlete, or Self Protection Expert; and the REALITY of what it is to be and/or become the same.

I too was deluded when very young and will admit the veil of fog of this illusion was not suddenly cleared from my eyes in a flash of intuitive lightning. No, it lifted slowly through many years of training, practice and embarrassing moments. I will share one that will illustrate my point.

Which Kick Is Better?

I remember I was fourteen and a blue belt in Tae Kwon Do, in front of a mirror at my dojang. I had arrived an hour early for my two hour class as usual because I wanted the extra practice. I wanted to be good enough to protect myself.  I was working on two variations of a spinning crescent kick; one with a straight leg and another where you spun with a bent leg and quickly snapped it out towards the target at the apex of the spin.
I noticed my teacher watching me and I decided ask him a question only a fourteen year old who had watched way too many Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris movies would ask; "Which version of the kick would work better in a real fight?" Without skipping a beat my teacher said, 
"Front the balls!" 
His simple answer awoke something in me that would mold my career path to seek more effective methods of preparing humans for real violence, and it was the first firm grip that would begin lifting the veil of illusion from my thought processes.

Below I share some of the illusions of the Martial Art, Combat Sport, Self Protection Culture, and some from the non trained citizenry that seeks instruction in the same.

You Can't Eat Just One!

There is no such thing as a one punch / one strike / one move = one kill. Human beings are both surprisingly resilient to damage while unexpectedly fragile to all forms of death. The truth is it is very difficult to end a human life with our bare hands.
Even causing unconsciousness is hard enough. Death from an empty handed fight with one punch may occur from the fall to concrete or other hard surface after a single blow caused unconsciousness in the first place.
Given the chaos of real violent conflict it is silly to train expecting one strike to end it. Be prepared to follow up.

Snap, Crackle, Pop?

Bones protruding from flesh after the swift kick to the kneecap, dead body with head lying at an odd angle after the swift twist of the neck. What is sad about that statement is that not only has Hollywood perpetuated  the myth, there are a ton of martial artist that believe they can do this and that it will look exactly like I just described. The myth lingers on during demos where the instructor says what the expected result of the move is because its too dangerous to do it "for real".

The truth is necks break mostly by accidents where some crazy fall and angle, and an amalgamation of several other coincidences place entirely too much weight at the wrong angle at the wrong time.
 An old friend and Chiropractor explained that one of the assignments he and fellow students had to perform, to eliminate fear of injuring patients during treatment, was to attempt to purposely fracture a cadaver's neck. He stated that not a single one was able to create a tiny fracture by themselves. It would take most of the time three of them working together to make it happen.
I have had experience wrenching necks, dislocating knees, shoulders, and elbows. both during careless training and during real violent conflict. In reality you are more likely to cause a debilitating muscle tear, or disc damage to the neck, and slight to severe dislocation of joints along with tendon or ligament damage. you may hear a sound like a t-shirt ripping, or feel an odd vibration as parts give way. You may or may not hear a grunt or scream from the person affected, but mos importantly, this MAY or MAY NOT necessarily slow or stop your attacker so be prepared to continue fighting.

Frank and Beans! Bad Touch!

The groin is a good but over rated target. I have seen strikes to the testicles have different effects on different levels of violent humans. From nothing to slowing down to crippling a man to unconsciousness.  So please, feel free to attack the groin but have no expectations of a specific result, keep fighting until the bad guy stops, even if you have to "re-stomp the groin" Amerido Te style!

Three Is A Crowd

The two views on multiple assailants I have come in contact with are diametrically opposed. On one hand are the naysayers who condemn it as impossible. On the other are the hero types who see themselves standing over a pile of dead, unconscious and screaming agonizing bodies after being attacked by a gang of bikers who hit on their girlfriend.

Once again the truth is neither as bad or as good as depicted above. With a lot of practice and intelligent training and strategies it is very possible to survive an attack by multiple assailants and escape with little or no injury. Survival and escape being the most important parts here. We must give up the illusion that we are capable of defeating all comers, especially when they all come at once.

Right Back At Ya!

Please oh please stop showing gun, knife, or stick disarms in which someone is threatening you with the above mentioned weapons then, in a flurry of blinding speed, you suddenly have possession of said weapon and quickly, stab, shoot, or beat your assailant with the weapon he just tried to use against you. 

Reality check one: You will not be able to disarm your attacker in one swift blinding move because, and I boldly venture to say here, you will be at least a tad nervous, if not shitting your pants, AND your attacker may not allow you to have the weapon without making you deal with a field of heavy resistance. He will fight to keep that weapon so train accordingly. 

Reality check two: If you are that good and effectively disarmed this attacker in one swift move you are now shooting, stabbing, bludgeoning an unarmed man, making you the bad guy.

 I find most of the stuff shown is a little over the top and sensationalized by what I call fetishists. I'm looking at you Middle Eastern Super Ninja Special Forces Krap Ma-Gay.
There are intelligent ways to train counter weapon strategies and tactics but this is not one of them.

Just Do It! The Best Offense Is A Good Def...Wait..What??!?!

"So when the attacker comes at you, attack the attacker! Just get in his eyes and throat and you just do my nifty trademarked Orphan Maker, Juicer, Food Processor (insert sharp appliance or scarily violent name here) tactic and you will win." - Flavor of the month Self Protection Expert (Usually a self proclaimed  Former Middle Eastern Super Ninja Special Forces SEAL Commando Ultra Tekken StreetFighter)

Although turning the tables on an attacker is very good in any fight, the reality of how you get to that point in the fight is often misunderstood. We are not perfect and we may not see every danger coming our way. Teaching an offense only approach is unrealistic and irresponsible.
A person wanting to protect themselves against real violence MUST have strategy and tactics to prevent debilitating damage, loss of balance and other factors that may occur during the chaos of a real attack and that may reduce their ability to mount a successful offense or counter offense. Teaching offense only combatives is just as silly as teaching someone to shoot but not showing them the uses of cover and concealment!

It's Not Free! At Least Not Always.

I have had many a self proclaimed "fighter" and kid wanting to be an "ultimate fighter" come to my school explaining why they want to join the classes, they tell me of their background (or lack thereof) and how they do MMA and want to fight with their eyes full of enthusiasm. Only to be disappointed when  they hear what I'm going to charge them.
First they seem surprised that with their "special qualifications" that I'm not begging them to bless my Academy with their presence. Next they are stunned at the amount it's going to cost.
The truth is there are no free rides. In no other sport, whether golf, tennis, football, would you dare go to a professional coach and ask to get the very training that will help you succeed for free. But for some reason, again the fog of illusion, people think professional Martial Arts, Combat Sport, or Self Protection coaches have some sort of Miyagi-esque duty to offer worthy students free instruction.
Now don't get me wrong I do offer scholarships and partial scholarships to some folks but it is usually a special needs case, a bullied kid, an assault victim etc. I am just very picky about who is deserving and most wannabe "ultimate fighters" are not.

It's Not a Montage

Finally the most prevailing illusion a find is that discrepancy between the desired skill and level of achievement and the work required to get there. This is especially true with the combat athlete crowd but applies to the Martial Artists and self protection seekers as well. Folks will join my academy only to leave a few weeks later when they realize that they are not yet the Bad Ass, Ultimate Fighter, or Ninja they wanted to be and they are not as good or as tough as they thought they were.
Real skill is not gained in a few minutes, with groovy music on the back ground, and several cut scenes showing you go from zero to hero by the end of the song. Real skill requires real work. I will sign off with a saying I came up with and is written on the whiteboard at my Academy for my students to read and ponder.

"Everyone walks in here wanting to be a great fighter (martial artist, self protection expert, insert title of your choosing here) But not everyone wants to do the boring, arduous, tedious work it takes to become that great fighter." T. Torres

In other words, have no illusions, its hard work, but if it doesn't kill you...

Tony Torres
Copyright Tony Torres