Style: For “Fighting” (i.e. Competition) or For Close Combat/Self-Defense?: Two Different Things!
MUCH has been written about personal style in the martial arts. Style being how one personally utilizes and applies the techniques of the art that he studies in practical application. It is important to understand that “practical application” means two completely different things, depending upon whether one is discussing competitive fighting (or “mutual combat”), or actual individual combat (anything goes, all-in hand-to-hand battle).
This distinction is rarely if ever understood — even by those who fancy themselves martial arts “teachers” — and sometimes the distinction is, for commercial purposes, deliberately blurred or outright denied. The present fad of “MMA” and “BJJ” probably boasts the largest numbers of people who are, wittingly or unwittingly, guilty of this. And the result has created a generation of ignorant “martial artists” who have convinced themselves (and who strive mightily to convince others) that developing a powerful winning style of fighting in the competitive arena automatically produces a powerful personal style of individual combat and self-defense for actual combat.
The competitor is concerned about winning; winning in a fair, prearranged contest against another competitor. He meets this competitor at an appointed time, in an arena that is well lit, matted, and overseen by a referee, and regulated by very strict rules. He is assured that no weapons or “foul methods” will be allowed, and that there will be only one single opponent to contend with. He is also assured, in nearly every competitive fight, that the repertoire of techniques utilized by himself and his adversary will be very similar; and he usually knows not only exactly who his opponent will be, but also a lot about his opponent’s past fighting history, and the personal style his opponent depends upon when fighting, in order o defeat the opposition. This is such an important issue, in fact, that often a fighter will study his opponent’s style, and train so that he can utilize his own style most effectively against his opponent when they meet.
In a situation of mutual combat, we can say that the “fight” is for real. Two people for whatever reason actually agree to do battle, and “square off” before they engage. Mutual combat and fighting, we uncompromisingly contend, can always be avoided. Since it takes two willing participants, it only requires one of them (i.e. the one possessing brains) to refuse to participate. This either eliminates all conflict or it obliges the less mentally well-endowed to attack the one who does not wish to fight. This places the unwilling participant in the role of DEFENDER, and his need now is for either preemptive or counterattacking self-defense skills and mindset —— a “style” that is inconsistent with the requirements or spirit of “fighting” in competition or (as morons will see it) to “settle something”.
The combat (or “combatives”) student needs to develop a personal style of using combat (not competition) skills, in order to defeat, and sometimes to destroy, an attacking enemy. Whether in war or in peacetime, the need is the same, and the need for a personal combat style is what the trainee should be aware of, and guided by in his studies and practice. If the person seeking to prepare for either self-defense or military close combat takes a turnoff into “fighting”, then that which he develops will be a sport or competition oriented personal style. It will certainly prepare him to enter matches (because he will not be focusing exclusively upon relatively safe techniques, and upon using them against a similarly prepared and oriented opponent, or against another fool who, like himself, is resorting to a “fight” —— mutual combat —— in order to satisfy his ego, or “prove” or “settle” some idiotic difference between them).
The personal style of a combat student will be one into which are woven the following characteristics, tailored to his unique capabilities and genetic propensities:
• The ability to deceive and then attack by total surprise, either in preempting, or in counterattacking mode, when an assailant manages to bypass his readiness (which the student needs to train incessantly in order to minimize his ever having his situational awareness and readiness “bypassed”.
• The capacity for extreme and perpetual barrage-like attacking. Going after his attacking enemy with the ferocity of a wild animal.
• A mindset of utter, extreme, mercilessly brutal ruthlessness.
• Expert mastery of very dangerous blows. Blows that maim, cripple, knock out, or kill —— executed singly and in combinations, and using surprise and the “kill or get killed”, “now or never”, drive to the wall mindset.
Attack mindedness on steroids!
• The ability to employ interactive tactics in which facial expressions, body language, and words diffuse, deceive, distract, confuse, con, or otherwise enable the student to either avoid trouble or set up his adversary so that, if that adversary actually initiates violence, he can be dispatched with efficiency, speed, and by freezing his mental faculty as a withering attack is undertaken to neutralize him.
• The ability to react to sudden, unanticipated violence —— for example, an attack from behind —— like a full grown lion or tiger in its prime would react if someone were able to approach it from behind and begin striking him with a stick.
• The commitment to using good, sound avoidance tactics 24/7. Being mindful that violence may come at any time from any quarter, and that —— exactly opposite to the fighter —— it will never be a “scheduled” or agreed-upon or planned event. (You can not make an appointment for an emergency!)
• The powerful desire to embrace and to cultivate with great enthusiasm all foul, “dirty”, underhanded, unsporting, gutter methods —— techniques, tactics, strategies, and attitudes —— than enable practically anyone, when properly employed, to destroy just about any individual in the world, regardless of that individual’s experience, skill, size, reputation, and strength.
• The knowledge and enthusiastic willingness to use all modern individual weapons — improvised included — in an engagement with an attacking foe, whether or not that foe is himself armed. “Fairness ethics” is stupid, self-destructive, and wholly inappropriate when defending oneself against unprovoked physical violence.
• A planned and regular commitment to strength and fitness-building exercises that build power, agility, internal and external fitness; and a commitment to seriously training the natural weapons so that they are as destructively formidable as the individual’s personal capacity permits.
• The understanding that personal injury is all but a guaranteed outcome for him, even if he defeats his enemy, and that there is always risk in any combative engagement regardless of skill and knowledge.
• A highly developed understanding of the fear reaction, and of how to employ fear energy in close combat, so that fear becomes the individual’s great ally and energizer in any situation.
• A strict adherence to combat skills and only to combat skills. The understanding that “one resorts in action to that which one has practiced and drilled into himself”.
The competitive sporting “fighter” and the imbecilic fool who “fights” require a personal style that is geared to agreed-upon contest. The combatives or combat student requires a personal style that enables him to make optimum use, according to his individuals strengths and weaknesses —— his natural and acquired propensities —— of the proven close combat techniques, tactics, and mindset… for W A R.
Every individual in the martial arts should be clear on this. It is a perfectly wonderful goal to aspire to become a fighting champion. It is an equally wonderful goal to aspire to be an expert in actual close combat and self-defense. But understand that a choice is involved here. It’s one or the other. In addition to requiring a different syllabus of skills, each goal requires that a participant develop a different personal style in using his acquired skills.
You can and should select the path that will lead to you cultivating the skills and personal style that will serve in the attainment of that which you are after. You can pick either path; but you can’t follow two distinctly different and opposite paths at the same time. And you will be making a very serious mistake if you elect to follow a path that claims to provide for the attainment of both goals, or that suggests that the personal style you develop in following either path will lead to a personal style suitable for each.
Common sense and real world, people! Common sense, and real world.