Points To Ponder — About Training For Real World Self-Defense And Close Combat – Part 1

WE appreciate that many if not most of our visitors train in methods of defense or martial arts systems other than our own. However, we also appreciate that the reason why these people visit our site is so that they can secure helpful information and guidance that is relevant to their adaptation of whatever they learn for practical purposes. Our specialty is close combat and self-defense.

In order to train properly for actual encounters with dangerous and determined human adversaries, in a self-defense or perhaps military context, certain adjustments — mentally, physically, tactically, and technically must be made. Not because “we prefer those adjustments”, but because the nature of the challenge that confronts a person in toe to toe battle with a living, breathing enemy, necessitates them.

Perhaps we may assume that the reader understands — or is at least willing to consider — that which we are saying. With  that much understood, we’d like to present the following “points to ponder”, which comprise a fairly rich miscellany of items that are directly relevant, and essential, to preparation for the supreme and critical application of martial skills and knowledge in real, honest-to-goodness, anything goes hand-to-hand combat; not for appearance or for points, but FOR KEEPS.

•THERE WILL ALWAYS BE A PRICE TO PAY WHEN YOU BECOME EMBROILED IN PHYSICAL VIOLENCE.

It is foolhardy to expect, regardless of your level of strength and ability and technical competence, that you yourself will not be injured. The real world isn’t like that. Experts may stand an excellent chance of winning a serious encounter, and providing skills and mental conditioning are practical and suitable to actual battle, of defeating an assailant in a street attack. But there will almost certainly be injuries absorbed by the expert in the process. Do not misled by advertisements, the arrogance of instructors, or such false claims as may be unfortunately seen in some overly enthusiastic presentations of seminars, courses, or programs in “real world combat”, etc. on the internet. The better and more authentic the teacher, and the more reliable and authentic his teachings, the more it will be frankly admitted that combat is dangerous, cannot be undertaken without risk, and no one — no matter how good he may be — can be a superman!

There are also possible legal consequences to engaging in physical combat. One may win the physical encounter, but end up in jail, prison, or suffering financial and emotional losses of monumental proportions in civil court. Wise persons will understand this and vow never to raise so much as a voice (let alone a hand!) against anyone, unless absolutely necessary in unavoidable self-defense. There is perhaps no greater or more persuasive reason to AVOID TROUBLE IF AT ALL POSSIBLE than the fact that, even if you are in the right, and even though you may win, there will be consequences of an unpleasant nature more often than not — to you.

• THE ONLY “RULE” IS: WIN!

When no choice offers save that of being beaten — perhaps killed — or fighting back fiercely and with determination to prevail, then nothing, absolutely nothing must be permitted to interfere with your ferocious, all-out, driving, committed, “balls to the wall” ATTACK. Winning is the only option that is now acceptable, and every rule, regulation, restriction, block, so-called “foul method” about which you may have been cautioned during your martial arts training is cast aside. Decency must be cast aside. Fair play, humane consideration, “not wanting to injure the attacker too badly”, etc. are all sabotaging thoughts and impediments, and must not be permitted to stand between yourself and instantly resorting to the most brutal, barbaric, even distastefully “dirty” methods you are capable of. You are out to WIN. The attacker has chosen his fate and is responsible for whatever happens to himself. Your life and well being, and the lives and well being of those you love, matter. The attacker — the “enemy” — does not matter. By his initiation of unprovoked violence he has declared himself a wild beast, and has placed his signature upon his resignation from the human race. WIN!

• IF IT MEETS THE REQUIRED STANDARDS FOR COMBAT THEN IT IS A GOOD TECHNIQUE, NO MATTER WHERE IT COMES FROM.
Strangleholds and chokeholds are among the precious few “holds” that make any sense in deadly combat. If you train in karate (any style) or if you are a boxer, or a kickboxer, then these types of holds are not in the curriculum that you study. They derive from ju-jutsu, and regardless of how devoted you are to “your art”, if you are training longterm and seriously for self-defense and close combat, then you must learn strangulation and choking skills.
If you are a ju-jutsu or a judo man, then your striking and kicking is almost certainly not up to a standard commensurate with that which a life or death battle with a man outweighing you by 50 lbs. and possessing three times your strength demands. You not only need a solid variety of effective blows, they must be COMBAT EFFECTIVE BLOWS. This means only minimal clenched fist use, and not striking primarily with the karateka’s style of delivery, but rather the Western boxer’s.
A very few good combat throws, a repertoire of war-proven combat blows, methods of strangulation, how to really counter vicious attacks that take you by surprise (and how to do so MERCILESSLY, without the ridiculous goal of securing a wrist or armlock, etc.) must be cultivated.
There is effective and ineffective in every classical/traditional system of martial art, and the ineffective must be culled out if your purpose in training in a classical/traditional system is self-defense, or you are flirting — literally — with death.
Look to anything and everything for tough, no-nonsense, anything goes, proven skills. Then adopt those skills. (Note: When, in the early 1970’s  we were beginning to formulate American Combato (Jen•Do•Tao)™ we obtained the rules for as many popular combat sports as we could think of. We then set about systematically to BREAK THOSE RULES, one by one, and to look at those techniques in those systems that were omitted by those rules, and we included them in our consideration of a combat syllabus.
• THERE ARE NO SECRETS, MYSTERIES, HIDDEN KNOWLEDGE TO BE UNEARTHED, OR EXCLUSIVE METHODS THAT “THE GOVERNMENT DOESN’T WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT”.
Being familiar with that which the government is concerned with, we are trebly amused by ads that purport to be training people in skills that, for some ridiculous reason the “government doesn’t want you to know”. What hogwash!
Do you really believe, with chemical/biological weapons that can wipe out cities, with missiles that can send the earth off its orbit, and with ordnance that a typical foot soldier can use to stop a tank, that the government is worried about you (or anyone) mastering the chinjab?
Neither Asian nor Western martial arts contain anything mysterious or secret, that YOU — with time, proper discipline, and effort — cannot acquire. Anyone who is attracted by such claims is going to be taken to the cleaners!
• THERE IS NO “TOUGHEST KID ON THE BLOCK”.

NO ONE is invincible, and there is no “toughest man” (except in contests; and those are sporting events, not combat engagements).
Such humility as is quite appropriate for the martial arts man who is practical in his goals, ought to be the result of his acceptance of the fact that, no matter how good he gets with his skills, regardless of the extent of the knowledge that he may acquire, and despite however many successes he may have been fortunate enough to have had in the past . . . he can be beaten, and it only need happen once to result in tragedy.
Do not train with the adolescent attitude of the “tough guy”.
• AN HOUR OF SERIOUS TRAINING IS FAR BETTER THAN A WEEK OF SERIOUS DICUSSION.
Nothing wrong at all with having friendly discussions with fellow enthusiasts about the subjects that you enjoy. However, do not forget that only hard, serious training produces skill, real ability, and justifiable confidence.
Some people like the popular martial arts “forums”. However, the childish name-calling, mud-slinging, and other infantile outbursts and tirades, whereby it almost becomes a contest to see who can put who down faster and with the most malice, lead NOWHERE. Professionals will not participate in such excursions into moronic indulgence — and you shouldn’t, either. Instead of spending two hours on line or sitting around discussing what methods produce the baddest baddass, and which people (in your uneducated, ignorant, pointless opinion) “can’t do squat” or “aren’t for real”, why not shut up and train hard? That’s all that will give you what you need if ever you are attacked, so why not get down to brass tacks and do that?
Talk is not only cheap; it’s a waste of time. Train. Then talk all you want.
• COURAGE IS NOT THE EXCLUSIVE PROVINCE OF HEROES. ANYONE CAN CULTIVATE IT.
The worst and most miserable type of coward is a bully. Next in line comes a troublemaker. It is true that not all bullies and troublemakers are cowards, but the overwhelming majority are, and yet unfortunately, young men who have had bad experiences with these types of scum as children or adolescents, all too frequently make the mistake of thinking of these vermin as possessing a “courage” which they — the victims — do not possess. What a mistake!
Courage is cultivated by coming to an understanding of its necessity as a practical tool for living. Courage is precisely what a bully or troublemaker is NOT demonstrating when he carefully selects someone whom he believes he will have problem pushing around, tormenting, and perhaps beating up.
What the decent individual must come to understand is that virtually everything may be st stake when he is attacked, and he has nothing to lose by fiercely attacking his enemy and going all-out to destroy him. By proper training this attitude is achieved. And by proper training in how to do it (i.e. how to attack), and the confidence that one inevitably acquires when one realizes that one can, indeed “do it” when and if he must, produces the kind of genuine courage that prevails over the kind of scum that delights in maliciously harming, humiliating, or terrorizing other people.
The courageous person avoids trouble just as carefully as the noncourageous but decent person avoids it. But, should trouble come, the courageous individual has the shock of a lifetime in store for the initiator of hostilities — and he damn well knows he has, deep inside his own psyche!
• FEAR IS YOUR ALLY!
Fear energy (a term we coined many years ago) is a life-saving force. People must be trained, educated, and conditioned to understand and to use this fact, however. It is the unpleasant nature of the involuntary fear reaction that makes so many feel that they “are coming apart” when, in a crisis, they feel fear.
Above all you want to be afraid! Make no mistake about this.
Fear must not be confused with panic, which is always undesirable. Panic, in essence, amounts to nothing more than being afraid of one’s feeling of fear, and becoming unable to make a decision to do something. That’s it. And proper training will overcome panic and train the student to use the powerful fear energy that arises within himself so that he can destroy his adversary.
The great boxer Floyd Patterson once wrote that if he enters the ring and he feels fear, he knows that he is going to win; but if he does not feel afraid, then he knows that he will be unable to muster the winning effort. FEAR IS ONE OF YOUR GREATEST ALLIES. GRASP THIS, FEEL IT, KNOW IT, AND FEAR WILL SERVE YOU WELL IN ANY EMERGENCY!
• CONSCIOUS THOUGH IS IMPOSSIBLE WHEN YOU BECOME EMBROILED IN HAND-TO-HAND COMBAT.
It is the subconscious mind that one must learn to rely upon in combat. A great error is to “try to second guess” and opponent, or to attempt to “deliberately decide upon” what technique to use. Can’t be done.
Clear the mind. Do not try to think. Just attack. Whatever happens, just attack. To whatever extent you have trained assiduously, you have programmed your subconscious mind and it is your subconscious mind that will “feed you” the actions, skills and tactics that you require in the crisis in which you find yourself.
• ALWAYS TRAIN WITH THE FOUR CRITICAL ASSUMPTIONS REGARDING THE NATURE OF THE ATTACK, AND OF THE ATTACKER, WHOM YOU WILL CONFRONT.
They are —
1. Your attacker is in every way your physical superior (no matter his size or apparent strength, etc.),
2. Your attacker is armed (whether or not you see a weapon in his hand),
3. Your attacker has assistance (even if you do not immediately see the second and possibly third and fourth assailants at the outset of the attack), and
4. Your attacker’s purpose is to maim or to kill you.
You can always back off if, after exploding ferociously with your counter, you find that the attacker has turned to flee. And, if you can get away after your initial reaction, you should do so. However . . . if your attacker does not flee, and if you cannot get away, then you must render him out of commission — both unable and unwilling to threaten you or your loved ones further.
If you tippy-toe into action, following some ridiculous “force continuum”, then you will — by playing catch-up — only keep giving your enemy repeated opportunities to crush you. He just might do that, too. You can always back off if you’ve stopped an attacker; you cannot always be certain of being able to escalate in time, should your initial reaction prove insufficient.
• SIMPLICITY, LEARNABILITY, RETAINABILITY, AND DESTRUCTIVENESS CONSTITUTE THE MEASURE OF A TECHNIQUE’S WORTH FOR COMBAT AND SELF-DEFENSE.
Never mind what looks good, what you see at demonstrations, or what you are able to do with a cooperative partner in the dojo. Use those criteria and only those for building a combatives repertoire.
•ATTACK MINDEDNESS IS CRUCIAL. YOU MUST POSSESS THE “MINDSET” TO GO AFTER YOUR ENEMY THE VERY SECOND
IT IS CLEAR TO YOU THAT YOU ARE IN IMMINENT DANGER.
Our “force continuum” is simple: HOLD, or ATTACK. That’s what works in the real world — quickly and efficiently. An the guideline that we follow in using force is: First, try everything reasonable to avoid trouble. Second, if trouble is unavoidable, preempt! And third, if an attack catches you off guard, then counterattack.
————this is the end of Part 1—————–