Thursday, March 31, 2016

Everybody Wants to Fight but Nobody Knows How to Fight

By Scott Shaw

            I forever find it very curious how people in this world are so confrontational. I find this particularly interesting in a place like the United States where people are so on the edge of anger for absolutely no reason at all.
            Have you ever been in the middle of war zone? Have you ever been in the middle of a riot? Have you ever been attacked by a gang of thugs? In those situations, there you have a reason to be confrontational – for in those situations it is kill or be killed. But, in the modern civilized world we live in a place where peace and prosperity abound. Yet, people are dominated by their anger, leading to confrontation(s). Why is this?  
            To provide a couple of examples. I was driving down the street today, a guy was at the stop sign in front of me, playing with his phone or something. When he didn’t drive on when the traffic was clear I gave him a little honk to wake him up to the fact that there are other people in the world. He dove on but was giving me dirty looks like he wanted to fight. He was a late middle aged man with a handicap plaque handing on his mirror. But, he wanted to fight. I laughed at him.
            Yesterday, I was driving along and was about to change lanes. I put on my turn signal. As I did the car behind me immediately raced into the lane to intentionally cut me off. My initial thought was this was one of those people who try to get into accidents so they can collect insurance money. But, I responded quickly and stayed my course. The car pulls up next to me and it was female Latin woman, yelling and screaming at me. She wanted a fight. I smiled.  
            In a world of plenty, why doesn’t everyone have enough? Everyone wants more. When they do not get all the ALL that they feel they deserve, they embrace anger; be it road rage or whatever. They look for a fight. But, is a fight what they really want?  I don’t think so.
            As I often discuss, in association with the martial arts, there are those of us who train a lifetime to refine our fighting skills, solely so that we will not need to use them. Most people are not like that, however. They are not a trained fighter, yet they feel they have ability, based in anger, to go up against someone who is. Here is where many of the problems of the world begin. People enter into confrontations over their anger, when there is no reason to do so. And, in doing so, they are easily defeated.
            As I always tell my students, the moment you enter into any physical altercation you must size up your opponent.  As a trained fighter, you can quickly tell if the opponent you are encountering is a trained fighter or not. As I also always tell my students, the moment you realize that you are a going up against an untrained fighter, turn it down a notch. For, though you can easily beat them to a pulp, the entire reason you train in the martial arts is so you will not have to do so.
            Certainly, if you are attacked you have every right to defend yourself. But, you should only fight as hard as you must fight. You should never demolish your opponent simply because you can. This is what true martial art training is all about.
            Moreover, one of the main reasons one trains in the martial arts is so that they may learn mastery over their mind. From this, they will not be dominated by uncontrolled and misguided anger. Without the need to express uncontrolled, unreasonable anger, your life become so much less confrontational and free from conflict; both external and internal.
            Anger, only dominates the unenlightened. Anger is the most animalistic emotion of all emotions. One who is dominated by anger exits at the lowest level of human consciousness. Yes, you may encounter people like this as you travel through your life but you do not need to allow their anger to instigate it in you. Be more than the aggressive individual(s) you encounter. If they attack you, defend yourself, but only to the necessary-end of keeping yourself free from injury. You do not have to annihilate them to win.
            Just because someone is angry at you, (for whatever reason), does not mean that you have to be angry at them. Use your martial arts training to cause you to forever raise above those dominated by anger.

Copyright © 2016 – All Rights Reserved.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Remove All the Extras

By Scott Shaw

            In every school of the martial arts, particularly those that teach a traditional system of self-defense, the students are taught a plethora of techniques. They are taught how to stand, how to punch, how to kick and in some cases how to joint lock and throw. They are taught these techniques and then they practice these techniques over-and-over again in order to develop exacting precision with each of them. Once they have learned these techniques they are then graded at how well they perform them. Thus, the martial art belt ranking system. As one moves their way through the martial arts, they do the same techniques over-and-over again as they are told this is the only way to gain true mastery over them. There is one very large problem in this equitation, however. The teacher who teaches them has most likely never been in an adult street fight. Thus, they have no true understanding as to whether or not they actually work. They are told that they do. They teach their students that they do. But, they have no first-hand knowledge.
            When a student of the martial arts is preforming one of the forms or katas of their system, striving for exacting precision is essential. At martial art competitions or demonstrations there are some practitioner who do what they do with exquisite beauty and perfection. Is this a part of the martial arts? Yes, it is. Is this part of the, “Martial,” “War-like,” part of the martial arts? Not really.
            There is a great divide between performing a specific technique with exacting precision and using that same technique as a tool of self-defense. In the classroom and on the demonstration floor, technique perfection is what is sought after. In physical combat, however, the belief that a specific technique must be preformed in an exacting manner is what may cause the student of the martial arts to lose a fight.
            There is an old saying among practitioners of Aikido and it can stretch across all of the various styles of the martial arts, “Thank you for letting me throw you.” If you have watched and studied the techniques used in an Aikido demonstration, (or any other style of the martial arts that focuses on elaborate throwing techniques), you will understand that though they are beautiful to watch they would not work in street combat. You are not going to cause a two-hundred-pound attacker to fly effortless through the air. And, this is just one exaggerated example. If you begin to break down any of the very-formalized techniques within your system of self-defense you will soon discover that in the rapid and undefined movements of a street fight the more you stick to structure and formality the less effective your techniques become.
            The martial arts are a great training ground to teach your body how to move and perform techniques that they average person does not understand. This being said, there is a grand illusion that simply because an individual can perform a perfect side kick in the studio that it would be effective on the street.  
            The martial arts, themselves, project this illusion. It is believed that the practitioner can defeat any opponent due to their ongoing training and the mental and physical development they gain in their school by preforming each technique over-and-over again as exactingly as possible. Again, this is where we must come to understand that there is a great difference between an idealized understanding of the martial arts and a practical one.
            As MMA has come to be embraced more-and-more over the past two decades, traditional martial art practitioners have been given the opportunity to witness, within the confines of a controlled environment, what one-on-one street combat actually looks like. It is not pretty. It is not defined. And, there are no rules. The two opponents do whatever it is they can do to win.
            From this understanding, within you own training facility, it may be time for you to begin to put aside the tradition of attempting to perform each technique a perfectly as possible. At least in association with your understanding of true self-defense.  If you want to know what truly works within your system, put it to the test. Glove up and let your opponent actually try to punch you. See which of your traditional punching defenses actually works. Do they same with kicks, body grabs and choke holds. Do not allow your opponent to know what self-defense you are going to employee nor allow him to react in the expected manner. Instead, make it like an actual street fight. Then, take it to the mat. Get in a ground fight for this is where many a street fight ends up. Do this, for this is the only way you will ever understand what truly does and does not work within your system of self-defense.  Once you have defined what does and does not work, in actual combat, you will then know what additional training you will need to prepare yourself if an actual street fight finds you.
            Every school of martial arts has a set of basic, intermediate, and advanced techniques that it teaches its students. Learn those techniques. Master those techniques and then put them to the test, leaving the extras behind. From this, you may emerge as a true martial artist.

Copyright © 2016 – All Rights Reserved