Sunday, December 6, 2015

"Fight Athleticism" - To Fight Criminals and Enemy Soldiers

     One thing I wrestled with my whole “martial” life, starting back in 1972 with Parker Kenpo on up to today to some extent, is the very question of why exactly do I do martial stuff at all. What was the reason, “THEE” reason I did all that? Because, whether I fully realized it or not during those beginning times, there was always a sense of discomfort. A lack of reality focus. A misdirection in the systems I studied. (And by the way I was no little kid back then. I was like eighteen or nineteen years old. Back then, there were nary a child allowed to do this stuff.) I asked myself, "is this really, real fighting?" I was assured it was and the demonstrations looked rough. But the whole motif confused me. 

     My first, real taste in trying to understand this confusion  was when basic training, US Army instructors in 1973 would say, “this is how they will try to kill you.” Then, the  military police academy had similar phrases and one time, one instructor said, “this is how they will try to kill you Saturday night.”

     Saturday night? You mean this Saturday night? This really caused me to pay much closer attention to the instruction. And in both courses, they taught actual attacks used by the local enemy or the local criminal. They advised us that when we got to our assigned stations there would even be more training on how the locals worked and assaulted us. It was also the first time I heard the phrase “who, what, when, where, how and why,” in conjunction with police work. Who is coming after me on Saturday night, anyway? What will they do exactly? Etc, etc  on the ”Ws and H” questions I still use today. And what about Wednesday nights too? Can’t forget them.

     But, I found that most of my martial arts life, martial arts in general, minus this clarity and full of one-off materials I did not really need on the Saturday nights of my life. There was plenty of extra stuff, trappings so to speak, dogma. Rules. So much…snatching of the pebble. And system worship and system-head worship.

     I kept studying different ones. Many martial artists back then were also looking for the next, best thing. Searching. I was. Trying to find the closest thing to reality. We jumped ships, we looked around. I am not really interested in self perfection as a main motive. I am not interested in “art for art sake” as any main motive, nor other esoteric and abstract pursuits. I was interested in those Saturday and Wednesday nights, first and foremost, especially as a cop looking to survive and win.

     This dissatisfied feeling kept on. But, in the mid 1990s, I started defining my problem, my neurosis, my dysfunctional family relationship with the martial arts. I decided that:

     “We really fight enemy soldiers and criminals. Sometimes we escape. Sometimes we contain them. Sometimes we injure and maim them. Sometimes we kill them.”

     That was that. Bingo. A motto. Mission statement. A commandment I could live around. Work around. Fit it all together in. I could build a mission around. I could build courses around. And, if you or I messed around in other martial arts? Found a hobby? I could place it in a proper “support’ perspective. Plus, I still am hunting around for good stuff I could use and stuff worthy of teaching to other people on this same path. Drills, exercises, fighting, whatever.

     The MA world also matured around me too. Mixed martial arts. And now the MMA of today is better than yesteryear, better than the MMA of recent decades where people just kept adding on full arts like suits in a closet. I mean the UFC’s version of MMA today, I guess is the best way to describe it. There is much material and experience that is useful. UFC/MMA has evolved beyond the collection of complete, individual martial arts, and I use the word evolved in its truest sense. Evolved to survive!

     The most modern, evolved MMA can’t and don’t and won't waste much time doing abstract things. If you are going to study fighting for survival or otherwise, time and grade spent in today’s MMA (boxing, kick-boxing, ground WITH ground n’ pound) is a good idea. Boxing is great, but it can’t exist alone. Kick-boxing is great too but it can’t exist alone. BJJ wrestling and Catch is great but they can’t exist alone. Not in theory. Not in practicality. The big picture is the smart mix. And the survival mix of “hand, ”must also include “stick, knife, gun” as primary, platforms. Oh, but need I add - overall athleticism too! Sheer athleticism can solve a lot of problems and cover over some technical mistakes. Let's be even more specific about this - Fighting Athleticism.

Here is a collection of definitions for athleticism:
“Athleticism” (Noun) The state of being an athlete, or of taking part in athletic events. A show of athletic prowess, physically active and strong; good at athletics, involving the use of physical skills or capabilities, such as strength, agility, coordination or stamina

Let’s add the term “fight” or “fighting” to the above description of athleticism and see what it sounds like:
“Fight Athleticism” (Noun) The state of being a fighting athlete, or of taking part in fighting athletic events. A show of fighting athletic prowess, physically active and strong; good at fighting athletics, involving the use of physical fighting skills or capabilities, such as fighting strength, fighting agility, fighting coordination or fighting stamina

     Sounds good to me. Building time, grade and athleticism. You know, I don’t regret my time and grade experimenting too much through these years since 1972. An old Green Beret I know once said, “most real bad asses have a black belt in judo or karate hanging in their closet. Hidden away.” And, if you study military and espionage history, you will find that all the major Cold War agents and spies had mentions in their dossiers that they took boxing, or karate or jujitsu, and had “good pain tolerance.” (Remember years ago Jujitsu was a much broader study and involved a lot of stand-up fighting too, not the wrestling of today. Karate was different also. Judo remains Judo.)

     When I see something complicated in the martial arts today, as in silats for example, or other systems, too much flash, even some super-complicated BJJ - as it too sometimes flies off its rocker, I know I can’t and shouldn’t be doing that or certainly not showing that. I mean, I can appreciate the skill level. Wow! Amazing. I might even get on the floor and mess around with it for fun. But can I, can we, really use that on Saturday night? I really don’t mind people doing all that stuff in classes for fun and exercise, just as long as they know, and still can retain the simple, “muscle memory” of what little really goes on in a fight. But, can they tell the difference? Problem is…sometimes I really don’t think so. Do they have ‘the eye?”

     My friend, Mike Gillette once advertised, “What you get with Hock, what you are really paying for, is his 'eye.' His filter.” Which I appreciated the remark. My job is to show a lot of good, trusted stuff, for you to work on and pick your favorite 6, 8, 10 things. It really is a customizing job. You learn from the experimentation. The experience. That is great for the self defense seeker. But then, future instructors need to know all the good, solid stuff because they have the responsibility of helping people get down to their smaller collection of needed favorites, as well as creating other instructors. But in the end, knowing how to do 6, 7, 8 things or so, depending upon the person, will never really replace full-on, fighting athleticism. You know this right? My job is also to really encourage, push and enforce fighting athleticism, as defined above. You can't go wrong doing modern, evolved MMA as a big part of fighting athleticism.

     People really do ask me a lot, (and I paraphrase here) “you have done martial arts for decades, and you have arrested a lot of people. What have you used?” They expect an exciting, thrilling answer.

     Used? Well, very little really. My few favorite things actually. What? Just 6? 8 things? 10 maybe? Over and over and over.

And now, for you? 
Here’s how they will try to kill you. 
Who? What? Where? When? How? And Why?
What are your favorite things for this next Saturday night?
Then, do you have the fighting athleticism to really do them for real? Really?

Two great training books in this batch.

Knife Counter-Knife

Impact Weapon Combatives