The class was working on power generation, using the center of gravity to slam extra power up into a strike or down into a strike. Two types of wave power. One man interrupted. Through the translator, he said, “But I don’t want to hit. My reaction will be to defuse and avoid.”
Wrong place, wrong time. The class had voted to work on surviving an attack. Rory MillerOne of those skills is hitting hard. The defusing and de-escalation part had been the focus of the whole morning. The question was good, in a way, and I had to address the whole class.
There are stages in a fight. If you see something that makes you suspicious, something that’s not quite right, you have options. You can gather more information. You can leave. You can prepare a weapon or alert your friends and partners.
If you do nothing, or don’t see it until the person becomes overtly threatening, you have fewer options. Leaving, de-escalating, gathering resources and alerting your team are still on the table, but now they come with extra risk. You will likely set him off, if he wasn’t going before. You will almost surely increase your chances of being suckerpunched if your attention is on resources or you try to leave when you are too close. You can pre-empt here, and I showed a social pre-emption. No injury, but usually even more effective than trying to suckerpunch first.
But once it’s on, once a bad guy has made violent contact with you, de-escalating and gathering resources are off the table. Mostly. By all means yell for help as you defend yourself. But never instead of defending yourself.
By the time you need to hit, it is too late to do anything but hit. And if you are going to hit, you need to hit well. Generally, if you aren’t finishing things, you are escalating them.
Context and timing. Real attacks versus sparring artifacts. One of the common patterns of shanking works from a handshake. The bad guy shakes your hand on some pretext and then pulls you in as he stabs you about in the armpit. I don’t usually teach knife defense for a number of reasons, if you know me, you know the reasons. But if you have certain jobs I’m willing to show you what I know under the assumption that you will think for yourself, adapt, and take responsibility for your own survival.
The best defense I’ve found for the handshake shanking is structural. Very quick. One of the students said, “But all I need to do to defeat the defense is let go.”
Absolutely right. That’s all you need. But that would predicate on a threat, with full lethal intent, grabbing your hand of his own volition and for his own purposes who is savagely using that hand to yank you onto the tip of the knife…and that threat halfway through this fully committed action sensing that you have a defense, sensing that you are applying the defense, completely aborting his own committed action AND doing the one thing that monkeys almost never do under stress– open their clenched hands.
Yes, there is a simple counter and no, you will never, ever encounter it in the field.
There are a lot of things, especially in traditional martial arts, that work great for real situations but are difficult or suck in sparring. The hip and shoulder throws in judo are hard to get and involve turning your back on the opponent, but in real life people jump on your back. Karate’s x-blocks are all but useless in sparring, but they are a godsend when something unexpected and shiny suddenly arcs towards your belly– a big, gross-motor move that covers a lot of area and gives you a lot of close-range options.
There is stuff that works under close-range assault, and there are options that only work with sparring timing and distance. Do not, ever, confuse the two.
“I don’t want to waste time learning power generation because I could never hurt a big man.”
Grrr. I’ve broken ribs on people much bigger than myself. Collapsed a trachea on someone who out-weighed me by over 100%. With an informal survey, we are now at, officially, 119 people who have either used a cup-hand slap to the ear, had it used on them, or seen it used. How many of those 119 incidents have seen the receiver keep fighting? Zero.
Small people can hurt big people. The smart way, of course, is to use a tool. It happens and it has happened. But if you are weak and small, your body mechanics must be superb. And there’s no rule that say big, strong guys can’t have better body mechanics than yours. There are no guarantees in this world.
But how fucked-up is it to say, “I can’t win so I won’t try.” Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Right now, in your mind and every day in training or in choosing not to train, you are laying the groundwork for your success or you are laying the groundwork for your failure. Winning and losing doesn’t happen on that dark day when you run out of options. Winning or losing is something you are doing right now.