Don’t Quarrel With Success

SOME people enjoy fussing with things just for the sake of fussing. They are not satisfied when an effective solution or method is achieved, but continue to pick and fiddle and “fine tune” and adjust. These individuals are regarded in some cases as tinkerers; but are often, well, pains-in-the-ass. They keep complicating and obfuscating everything, and as a result, they actually prevent good results and satisfactory conclusions.

The armed and unarmed combat arts are inundated with this “fix-it-whether-or-not-it-is-broken” attitude. It is reflected in the awful complexity and endless nit-picking of those who are never satisfied with a technique, a system, an idea, a tactic, a weapon, or what-have-you, and are in many instances literally impervious to hard-core stuff that works.

What is especially and particularly irritating is that simplicity, common sense, and flawless track records rarely count for much with these types. They want something new, improved, and better. We naturally applaud this attitude when in fact better ways and tools need to be sought because existing approaches and equipment fall short of achieving desired outcomes. But change and “newness” make no sense when that which one possesses works perfectly well.

In unarmed combat methods we know what works well and reliably, and that which does not. The field of unarmed close combat (not unarmed combat sports, but unarmed combat) has evolved to the point where every correct principle and tactic for success is known, and it remains only for those who train to adhere to those principles and tactics when selecting techniques and when building their personal repertoire. That which works has been discovered and uncovered in peacetime and in war by people who engaged in the activity ––– for real. Here’s what we know:

  • Blows and related tactics (i.e. biting, clawing, seizing, crushing) and strangling and choking, comprise the most effective, reliable, and adaptable skills for actual hand-to-hand combat that exist.

  • Throwing is a secondary skill, and ––– providing the throws meet the requirements of combat application and not mere contest requirements ––– constitute an important part of semi-advanced and advanced close combat and self-defense training.

  • Human beings are very difficult to stop when they are determined and aroused (as they may be assumed to be in any violent engagement) and therefore “one blow stops” are unrealistic goals in training, and very foolish in application. Enormous followup and relentless continuation of all-out effort is to be expected whenever engaged in violent combat. There is no easy or minimally-effortful way to get control over and neutralize a determined foe.

  • Size and strength, while not necessarily being decisive factors in determining the outcome of an engagement, definitely matter. Most particularly strength is important, and every technique depends to a lesser or greater degree upon the strength of the user for ultimate success.

  • The element of surprise is always crucial.

  • Offense must constitute the core strategy of dealing with any opponent. Doing the unexpected, catching the enemy off-guard, conveying the opposite of your true intentions, and pressing your attack without hesitation once you have gained the initiative is what wins. Self-defense is best achieved by attacking the attacker.

  • The open hand offers more and far better options than the clenched fist in combat, and only the simplest low kicks make sense in real world engagements.

  • The human body’s vital target areas number about 15, not the enormous number that many Asian systems insist upon; and it is these targets that should be attacked with all-out force, and against which relentless efforts to destroy must be directed. Injury and damage need to be achieved in order to be effective in close combat; “pain compliance” is ridiculous, except for police, security guards, and other peace keepers who must often control others without seriously damaging them.

  • Skills that have a “shelf life” (i.e. that one cannot use when one grows older and when one is not in hard training) should not be studied. Time and effort should be spent on those skills that will serve for a lifetime ––– or at least until the individual has grown extremely old and frail.

  • Maintenance of strength, fitness, and good all round condition should always be a concern of anyone training in combat skills. “Natural weapons” should be trained by impact work against striking aids: dummies, bags, posts, etc. This is more to provide experience in contact than to harden or to build up the natural weapons, per se.

  • Mental conditioning for combat is vital. Success in personal, individual combat depends at the very least 50% on mindset and attitude . . . and we (in American Combato) say that 90% is closer to a realistic assessment of the importance of mental attitude.

  • Self-defense or any hand-to-hand engagement in peacetime or in war is war in microcosm. And war is only properly fought and won with an anything goes, no restraint, no rules, no mercy, no acceptance of anything but the destruction of the enemy attitude and committment. In real combat animal ferocity and viciousness coupled with ruthless disregard for the enemy is the least that is demanded for a true fighting spirit!

  • Weaponry is not a separate area of study or training but is integral to combat training and readiness. And every close combat student must master improvised weapons and weapons-at-hand in addition to modern weapons. Additionally, unarmed combatants must anticipate armed enemies.

  • Risk is inevitable in all combat, regardless of how skilled and knowledgeable any expert may be. Never underestimate any adversary, and never underestimate yourself. Never overestimate any adversary, and never overestimate yourself. Unrelenting, serious practice ––– as much of it as is feasible, given time available, age, state of health and physical condition ––– is the only way to increase the odds of victory.

There, in fourteen points is summarized the core factors that we KNOW are necessary for success in close combat. Searching and toying with this, that, and the other thing in the martial arts, and falling for the stupid and outrageous gimmicks and promises that so many charlatans make and profit by making, will avail you nothing. Settle down to what works. Don’t quarrel with success. TRAIN!

In armed combat the same thing applies. Use of the handgun, the carbine, shotgun, rifle-and-bayonet, stick, knife, tomahawk, cosh, brass knuckles, blackjack, the smatchet, etc. is simple and direct, and the methods that have been established by men such as Fairbairn, Applegate, Sykes, O’Neill, Feldenkrais, Biddle, and Carlin, etc. provide the war-proven way to go. No “new technique” is required. All new systems (such as our own, American Combato) derive  their effectiveness by BUILDING UPON ALL OF THAT WHICH HAS BEEN PROVEN TO BE SUCCESSFUL, AND ADHERENCE TO THE LONG-AGO DISCOVERED FUNDAMENTAL ELEMENTS, not by coming up with some revolutionary, new way. Combat is not like the science and craft of medicine or the field of physical science or engineering. Much remains to be discovered about diagnosing, curing, and preventing human diseases, and much remains to be discovered within other hard sciences as well, that is not thus far known. But engaging other individual humans in deadly combat has been wrung out as a study . . . and now it remains only to build upon and keep training in those proven, established, successful ways and means that have long since been revealed through countless experiences and protracted studies by professionals. A”better” handgun or fighting knife may well be developed . . . but how to use it has already been discovered. And, truth be told, in many instances the older handguns and fighting knives, etc. remain the best!

Once again dear reader: Don’t quarrel with success!

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