Tuesday, May 27, 2014

"Nothing Replaces Ring Time" - Joe Lewis

     Champion Joe Lewis once said, "nothing replaces ring time." It is a quote I have used in classes and seminars for years. And when I say “years,” I mean decades. 

     At our Force Necessary: Hand, Level 10 “black belt” test, everyone does all the system strikes and kicks, the big 15 takedowns, the Stop 6 ground program, and about 125 combat scenarios versus unarmed and weapon attacks/confrontations. I know it is pretty damn exhausting. Ask anyone who's been through it.

     And then ... we also kick box, as part of the test. MMA gloves, head gear, etc. They do takedowns and some kind of ground finish. I just think it is an important requirement for the so-called "modern Black Belt."  I DO NOT want to create kickboxers or wrestlers! No sir. But we still do this because, as Lewis said, "nothing replaces ring time." Real time, real speed, real force, ring time. 

     Call me old-fashioned, but I see it that way. Sure I am really interested in the event-based, "reality combatives" end result. And I offer up the materials void of all dogma. In a way, it’s an old school Black Belt idea. Remember in the olden days, your training, your understanding of fighting really begins at a black-belt level. You begin there. Remember that?   

     And, yes, we automatically cover self-defense, too, as it runs through the “Who, What, Where, How, and Why Formula" and the “Stop 6 Formula.”  They are extremely comprehensive modules. We cover anger, fear, and pain management. But a foundation of all that end product is also partly founded in some "ring time."

     To me, a part of a good mid-term or long-term course must include some ring time for all the great attributes it develops. If you are studying the knife, some of that should include knife dueling. Not all. Some. If you are studying the stick? Some of that training time includes stick dueling. And if you are proclaiming to teach gunfighting, if you aren’t using simulated ammo in interactive shooting against moving, thinking people who are shooting back at you? You ain’t really training to gun fight. And so, yes, if you are doing hand-to-hand fighting of any kind? You should also be kickboxing once in awhile. And further, kickboxing with takedowns. And further still - worry about how this fight ends when on the ground.  

     Now this “ring time” message is not meant for these three-hour, one-day, or two-day official “self-defense” crash courses where you see total out-of-shape, un-athletic rookies, strangers off the street. People that you will never see again. Of course not. I myself can't do these types of courses because I find the challenge overwhelming. If I had to teach people “self-defense” in three hours? I wouldn’t know where to start, so I never do this. I am not an official self-defense instructor. That's not a good throw-down label for me. I have a bigger agenda for you.

     You and me? We have to have a longer relationship. Longer term because we need to cover fighting standing and on the ground, We are going to pass through all the good strikes, all the good kicks, all the good takedowns, control measures, and all the basic ground maneuvers. We’ll cover the core material I think everyone must know, from which they pick - based upon their size, weight, shape, strength, age, speed, etc., - the favorite things they want and can do.
     But to me and many others, so much of that all is meaningless and forgotten without a commitment to regular training. Lost. Gone. "Perishable" is a common word used for eroded skills. We need a commitment to me or several instructors to stick with the program for as long as possible. Not three hours once in their lives. Not a weekend. A while. 

     When certain people consider the Lewis “ring time” statement, it causes a lot of emotional reactions. Panties get in a twitter. It seems the martial training world, since about the year 2000, has been splitting into two civil war sides. The martial arts (some like to upgrade the term by calling it “combat sports”) and the so-called “reality-based, self-defense” group. And both are quick to criticize and belittle each other. Which is a shame because there are benefits from both. And let me tell you, much bath water has been thrown out with the babies from both sides. Much water and many babies.

     Recently a dedicated reality-based, self-defense instructor read this Joe Lewis message and said that if Joe Lewis had just seen the amazing wonders of the new, modern, brilliant “pressurized-combat-scenario-training,” he would have amended that statement to say, “nothing replaces pressurized, scenario training.” I said no. No amendments. Ring time is ring time. Combat scenarios are different. Combat scenarios have a story attached. “It was a dark and stormy night” kind of story. Ring time, however, is mindless. “Ding! Go!” And it builds so many, many things like character. Endurance. Savvy. Pain tolerance. Speed. Athleticism. 

     A deep word, this "athleticism." But let's add a word in front of it - “fighting athleticism.” Well … need I go on and on with an obvious list of ring-time benefits? (I guess in some quarters I have, too.) Ever spend time or hang with a seasoned boxer? Or a seasoned MMA person or a veteran UFC fighter? Train with them? These people know things about fighting that a pressure-tester RBSD person doesn't know. "There's what you know, what you don't know, and what you don't know you don't know," as the saying goes. Pressure testing (which can be also an abused, misused, and misunderstood term) scenario training and sparring are two different animals.  I like to see people do both. And I actually catch heat over that idea.

"I said no. No amendments. Ring time is ring time. 
Combat scenarios are different."

     Catch heat? These positive “ring time” and positive “combat sports” statements I make have caused dissent and really bizarre emotional outbursts sometimes. On one reality forum, a RBSD person declared that I would be responsible for a raped girl left for dead in an alleyway. (I guess because I wasted her time teaching her to mix a little kickboxing into a workout program?) And one expected that “the next time someone holds a gun to my head, I would drop down into my pansy/artsy "Kuraty stance," and then I should ...“see what happens.” 

     These knuckleheads have no idea about me, my life, what I teach, or what I do. But some act as though if you so much as rub your hand across the rope of a ring or do a little catch wrestling, you are completely wasting your time; and you’ll lose some precious, super-honed, street-survival edge. There is nothing wrong with strapping on some gear and just duking it out once in awhile. And needless to say, parts of many real fights can square off and look like a kickboxing match for a few seconds at a time. That inside event has happened and will happen.

     Yeah, I've caught heat. Through the years, I have basically been called a martial-artsy miscreant by RBSD people and a shallow, misguided fool by MMA people. They don’t know I am both things. Oh, I don't mean a miscreant or a fool, but I am in it for the reality and also any and all “combat sports” moves and ideas I can use that support the growth of the practitioner. It's the evolution of both sides, from both sides. This evolution thing takes a little time.

     It's all about apportioning training time for your mission. And in the "who, what, where, when, how, and why," understanding what your training mission is. I do not want to make kickboxers. 
I do not want to make wrestlers who endlessly wrestle and wrestle. Nor do I want to leave near-dead women in alleyways! I sum it up this way. I want a tenacious, educated, skilled, versatile, savvy athlete. That includes hand, stick, knife, and gun.  It's a mixed-weapon world no matter what state or country you live in.

     On paper and in theory - who would you bet on in a "street-survival" fight?

     1. A person who only does pressurized combat scenarios?
     2. A person who only does kickboxing with takedowns?
     3. A person who does both of the above?

     My pick will always be Numero Tres - a person who does both. Which is my whole point. If you don’t see this evolved advantage, you have a screw loose.

     Because, like Joe said … nothing replaces “ring time.”

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