Posts Tagged ‘self defense’

Did I just say that sport-combat training won’t help you win a fight? I guess I did, but I didn’t mean it that way. Now, before all you BJJ and MMA enthusiasts start suiting up and challenging me to a cagefight, watch this video:

For a quick encapsulation, this fight between two skilled muay Thai fighters starts out like your average muay Thai battle: both fighters standing in the center of the ring, trading power kicks and punches. Things go south after a right-hook knockdown at 25 seconds into the match. The fighter who got knocked down (Red Shorts) gets up and stumbles to the ropes, prompting the other fighter (White Shorts) to attempt some type of flying kick that causes him to fall through the ropes and onto the floor.

Now here’s where the two enemies to every would be G.O.A.T. – emotion and adrenaline – show their faces.

Clearly embarrassed by his epic kick fail, White Shorts barges into the ring, brandishing a trash can lid. (After years of cops/courts reporting, I finally got to use the word “brandishing.” Win!) The ensuing brawl between the two fighters – and another man in a red shirt – bears little resemblance to the type of skilled combat display one might expect from Thai fighters battling out in the ring in their home country.

In classic self-defense situations – i.e., streetfights or barfights – there the element of human emotion and adrenaline is invariably thrown into the mix. This deadly chemical concoction hits our central nervous system and effects us in a number of ways, not the least of which is the loss of fine motor control. What this means is that you lose the ability to access the wide variety of complicated techniques they’ve spent a near-lifetime trying to perfect while in an emotional state.

Before we go any further, I’m well aware of the many YouTube videos showing a calm, collected MMA fighter dispatching a thug using basic BJJ techniques. When this happens, it’s usually the result of the MMA fighter not being a primary combatant embroiled in the situation. Rather, the fighter often dashes in from the sidelines, applies whatever Brazilian/Japanese-named choke hold he has, and ultimately saves the day.

But what happens if that same fighter is in the bar, with a couple drinks in him, and someone says something about testicles resting upon the fighter’s mother’s chin? Will the fighter still remain calm and in control in this scenario? In some cases, maybe; in most cases, I doubt it. I’ve trained with many an MMA fighter – some of them professionals – who’ve gotten into wild barroom brawls and came back to the dojo with a black eye and a story to tell about the encounter.

Hey, it happens…

So am I really saying combat sports training won’t help you in a streetfight? No, not exactly. I’m saying there’s always the chance your mind won’t allow you to access your repertoire of Muay Thai/boxing/kickboxing/MMA/BJJ/assorted deadly sport-fighting art techniques in a highly-charged situation. Thus, your latest belt, ranking, or win-loss record in the cage isn’t always a fail-safe guarantee that you’ll control your emotions and adrenal response during situations outside the cage. And even if you do, those techniques might not be effective in the heat of battle. (Remember: Out of all the technically-proficient strikes exchanged in the above muay Thai fight/brawl, it was a sloppy, stiff-armed haymaker that finally ended it for good.)

The best advice I can give anyone is to enroll in a reality-based self defense course that understands and trains you in the art of overcoming the adrenal stress response. I highly recommend Peyton Quinn’s course at RMCAT as a five-star crash course on the subject. It works with solid, basic techniques used under “live-fire” scenarios, and frankly, that’s all you need to stop most attackers. Bill Kipp’s FAST Defense course utilizes the same methodology, while the advanced RBSD student might enjoy Rory Miller’s scenario drills at Chiron.

And one more thing: Stay safe, good people!

About J.P. Ribner
J.P. Ribner is the author of Viking fantasy adventure series “The Berserker’s Saga.” Currently, the saga features two novels – “Legacy of the Bear” and “Prophecy of the Bear.” For more about his written work, check out his website.

Sometimes you just gotta throw the first punch … and the second, third, and fourth, if need be!

If you’ve been following this series, you’ll know that I’ve discussed a wide range of topics revolving around confrontations that develop into self-defense situations. We’ve covered the concept of giving would-be attackers a face-saving exit if you don’t want to fight. We’ve also discussed the myth of perfect technique as well as the fact that your zip code doesn’t make you tough and other related topics. Tonight, I’d like to discuss a topic that’s near and dear to my heart because it’s one that I believe is WIDELY misunderstood: pre-emptive striking. This is perhaps the most important thing you need to know if you find yourself confronted by an angry street thug or just about anyone else who wants to knock your head off your shoulders.

The concept of pre-emptive striking simply means being the one to punch first. This is a touchy topic in martial arts circles as well as amongst the general public because the traditional belief is that you should “let the other guy throw the first punch.” I’ve never understood why people feel this way. Maybe it’s because they think that will protect them if the police get involved, or perhaps they just don’t want to look like “the bad guy” for being the first one to act. For whatever their reasons, the concept of striking first when the bad guy is barking and snarling in their face is a foreign one. Then, there are some people, such as the man in this video, who understand its effectiveness.

Peach Shirt did the right thing by clocking White Shirt when WS got in his face. He also did the right thing by not stomping and/or hitting WS while he was down on the ground, as THAT definitely would’ve invalidated any self-defense claims. The only thing PS did wrong was not getting the fuck outta there after he knocked WS down the first time. He walked away slowly, perhaps proudly, allowing WS the chance to get up and chase him down. Luckily, PS put him down a second time and WS didn’t have any friends around to “take up” for him by swarming and attacking PS.

In my experience, assailants stand in front of you, barking and snarling for two reasons: 1. They want to see how frightened/nervous they can get you before punching you in the face. 2. They’re also working THEMSELVES up to attack. As I’ve said before, only a predatory criminal or sociopath will just smash someone in the face completely out of the blue. In most cases, your attacker will pull the ol’ bark ‘n snarl routine to draw a crowd and pump up their own courage to attack. In most cases, they’ll push you first, then go for the haymaker (a big punch to the face) after you push them back. The pre-emptive strike short circuits this whole routine and it’s usually the LAST thing your attacker is expecting.

I’ll bet this pimp didn’t see the chop to his carotid artery coming. It definitely cut off the flow of blood to his brain, though:

WARNING: a pre-emptive strike might win the battle, but you’ll have a hard time proving your innocence in a court of law. The criminal justice system should be renamed the criminal justice industry, because that’s what it is. Police, prosecutors, and judges will all have dollar signs in their eyes if they get involved in a situation where you delivered a pre-emptive strike. Be prepared for the possibility of having to defend your decision to “knock that motherfucker out” in a court of law. That same 6-foot-tall animal that was going to smash your face in will be sitting in the witness stand, looking like an innocent little lamb. And the story he’ll tell will not be ANYTHING like what really happened at the bar a month before. And prosecutors have a penchant for asking nasty little questions, such as, “But how did you know the victim was going to hit you, Mr. Ribner?” There’s no good way to answer it.

So if you decide to deliver a pre-emptive strike, don’t say I didn’t warn you. It may or may not be legal under the statutes of self defense in your state. Use at your own risk. Only you can make the decision whether your life is truly in danger … and only you will have to live with the consequences. That said, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Until then, stay safe, good people!