Posted by AG_Nate

The Importance of Getting Your Ass Kicked

Over the last several months, I have been lucky enough to participate in four or five Unarmed Combatives Programs both as a student, and as a trainer.  I have since been chewing over lessons learned and takeaway points from every course, and have converted the bumps, bruises, blood and sweat into some points I give you for consideration.  Here are some things I feel work (and more importantly don’t work) in Combatives Training:

– If you aren’t wearing a cup and mouthpiece, your training is not hard enough and/or realistic enough to be useful in live combat.  You absolutely have to get hit and choked to learn to overcome being hit and choked.  If you have never been in a live fight that resulted in your being punched in the face, you need to seek out a program that will facilitate that experience.  It cannot be simulated.

– If your art or style is diagnostic (relies on you making “if he does this, I will do that” calculations) it most likely will not work in the street, especially for casual practitioners.  In a recent Law Enforcement Defensive Tactics class I was taught 5 techniques for 5 different types of headlocks, all presented in 12 hours of training.  I was able to perform an average of two reps on each technique, and none of them in live sparring.  Fail.  You cannot diagnose and react faster than your adversary can attack, bottom line.  The less proficient you are with the techniques, the more apparent this deficit will become.  You will find your reactions consistently late and get yourself pummeled as a result.

– The more parts, steps, stages, or movements a technique requires, the less likely you are to be able to perform it live against an actively resisting adversary.  This is true even for the highest level practitioners, as every link in the chain creates an opportunity for your opponent to interrupt and counter.

– Beware of “sports-based” programs.  This is going to be heresy to some, but good Jiu-Jitsu will get you good and hurt in a street fight.  The Gracies didn’t intend for you to be on your back in a cement parking lot fighting two guys with tools in their hands.  Using the techniques that help you submit an opponent in an MMA fight or Jits tourney will also prevent you from regaining your feet, or protecting yourself from the secondary or tertiary attacker.  Putting your head between a bad guys socket wrench handle and a concrete parking deck will result in you getting your head smashed in.  I don’t intend to pick on BJJ, it has actually provided a ton of great tools to the world of Modern Combatives. Not to mention Tae Kwan Do, Judo and others are just as bad if not worse.

– Any good program includes live sparring.  If you cannot train against non-consensual, actively resisting opponents then you need to find a new program.  One of the major faults I find with Krav Maga as commonly taught in the US is the concept that the techniques are too “dangerous” to train live.  If that’s the case, how in the hell do we know they work?  Because some IDF “commando” said they did?  As Tony Blauer says often and rightly: “Anything will work…once.”

– Your fight is unlikely to begin by you coming out of your corner and touching gloves with your opponent.  In fact, it’s more likely to begin with you getting stabbed, shot, blindsided, bludgeoned, or bum rushed.  It is critical that your training accounts for that.  You have to train for unequal, uninitiated combat you cannot disengage from at will.

– You HAVE to get back to your feet, period. The reason is simple: it is only from your feet that you can truly control space, create distance, avoid blows, and deliver fight-ending punishment.  If your training does not emphasize getting back to standing as soon as is possible, 100% of the time then it is flawed…dangerously flawed.


So, what’s the answer?  I’m not sure.  I do know there is no perfect system.  I believe the best bet is to build a toolbox with choice bits taken from proven arts like: modern wrestling, modern boxing, Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, dirty boxing, Escrima/Kali, and any other art or system you find relevant parts in.  Craig Douglas at ShivWorks demonstrates the best example of this in his ECQC curriculum.  He borrows from the best of everything without ego or fandom.  If a tool doesn’t work or is surpassed by something else…out it goes.  Train HARD and as often as possible with the tools you select.  I try and take ECQC at a minimum once a year.  I find training wherever I can, whenever I can.  Vale Tudo seminars, boxing gyms, Law Enforcement DT Classes, etc.  The first step is finding a class in your area and leaving your comfort zone a little.  There is an amazing clarity that comes only after you take that first punch in the mouth.

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