Thursday, March 12, 2009

Recommendation for H2H fighting


No worries, not going to debate your opinion. I'm actually glad you posted that article because I had checked out a Krav Maga gym last night (, and was considering joining. You may have saved me from wasted resources.

However, I am courious what other martial art you reccomend. I have done some Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, for about 4 months before I ran out of money. 200 USD a month for unlimited classes is quite high! However, I took full advantage of classes, attending 6 days a week, 9 classes total. That wore heavily on my body but I learned at a rapid rate and improved quickly according to my fellow BJJ'ers.

Anyway I digress... I was riding my bike home from work and was "jumped" by 3 guys. They knocked me off my bike and at first I "turtled up" and used my backpack to protect my body from blows. When the kicks continued, I realized this was useless, and tried to take down the largest guy (he looked to be about 40 pounds heaver than me) but was knocked unconcious with a kick to the head. They later caught the guys (apparently a group of 4).

I know a lot of people praise BJJ, but we nefver trained for 2-on-1 or 3-on-1 situations like I experienced. We also never praticed fighting from the ground against people standing up. I am unaware of any martial art that does.

I am hoping you can provide insight on a good MA/self defense class to take up.

Thanks and stay safe,

First let me tell you, I’m no expert. I’m not even ½ as good as some guys that do these things with serious commitment.
All I can tell you is what I did myself, what worked for me or what I saw that made me think one way or the other.

I first started with ITF Taekwondo, did that for a few months, then dropped it for box.
TKD given you good reflexes, speed, but the rules you have ( similar to most MA) don’t allow a fluent, realistic fight.
Besides, I’m not that interested in all the emotional/philosophical stuff. I wanted to learn how to fight.
TKD also has lots of kicks, some of them just stupid to put into practice in a real street fight.
As a rule of thumb, I would go with any kick higher than the waist.
Preferably low kick to the left, trying to sweep the attacker or bust his knee.
With TKD I also learned how stupid it is to believe a woman and a guy can fight in equal terms.
I spared with a girl that was pretty serious about it, she was competing in the world TKD ITF in Moscow and she was a pretty good black belt.
I spared with her and even though I had just a few months of experience and she had years, I had to be careful not to hurt her, while she went full force and other than pissing me off it achieves little else.
That one of the things I mentioned about Kravmaga (KM) not differentiating between guys and women. A women training as a guy isn’t doing things right. She should received self defense training specially for women since they have certain weaknesses that should be addressed and she’s be counting more on wits, rather than raw strength.

Boxing was great for me. It was just a moment when I needed to blow some steam and freely delivering punches was very liberating.

Any serious fighter should box for a LONG time if he/she pretends to achieve any level of H2H fighting.
There’s simply nothing else out there that gives you the speed of hands, the KO power and the defense box gives you.

Something as simple in box as keeping you hands up is sometimes ignored by fighters in MMA and end up paying for it dearly. Regretting the mistake when they wake up.

Is box perfect? No, of course not, nothing is, but at least to me it’s one of the most important pillars in a fighter.

Put a boxer in a cage with a MMA fighter and the MMA will always win. Even against a Tai boxer, just kicking the boxer in the legs will put him on the ground.

So why do I insist so much with boxing?

Because real street fighting isn’t UFC, or Mortal Combat. It’s not 1 on 1 combat till the end and unlike UFC you do NOT want to take the fight to the ground, even if you are a good ground fighter and even if many fights end precisely there.
Why not? Because unlike UFC and video games, ending in the ground can get you killed.
Just as an example, my brother got into a fight once with a guy, the fight went to the ground and things were pretty even…until a friend of my brother rushed in and kicked the guy in the head.
Even if Matt Huges is kicking your butt with a triangle choke in the ground and very likely about to brake your neck, if a friend of yours rushed in and kicks Matt Huges in the head like a soccer ball penalty with a steel toe boot, Mat Huges will end up dead or drooling the rest of his life.

That what you want to avoid in a street fight and that’s the boxer’s advantage.
In a crazy street fight where punches are coming from all around you, the boxer can go back against back with a buddy or a wall or tree, get mostly on defense with a conservative guard, and throw punches left and right.
Meanwhile, the grappler or wrestler can do crap. He can pick one guy and try to fight him one on one in the middle of the mayhem, and taking the fight to the floor which is almost suicide, or he can try to improvise boxing. Most probably doing a lousy job.
The ideal thing would be to do both box and Thai boxing, so as to add kicks, elbows and knees to the toolbox.
Grappling and throws such as the ones you learn in Brazilian Ju Jitsu and Judo are also important because you never know when you may end up using one.

Although boxing has proven most useful to me, a rear naked choke was what I used once against a guy and it worked great.
The guy was out and, fi I wanted it I could have snapped his neck or keep choking until he passed out or died.

Even if you don’t want a fight to end there, it’s very likely that a fight may go to the floor so you need to have some moves there as well.

Again, its street fighting, you never know when someone pulls a gun or knife, so unlike sports you have to keep an eye on the attackers hands at all time, preferably neutralizing with arm locks any hand for going to the waist were he may have a weapon.

Avoid fighting as much as possible. If you can then a couple quick punches and low kicks and get out of there.
Against multiple attackers try dropping the one closet as fast as you can, grab one by the neck or with and arm lock and use him as an obstacle between you and the rest of them, but get out of there fast.
You can beat them, but they have to be pretty stupid and very coward.
If they all attack at once you are done. KM choreographies aside, you don’t win against 2 or 3 guys that have a vague idea of how to fight.
You better run, and if you can’t run you better have a weapon.
A pocket knife will level the odds, even level them to your favor when dealing with multiple attackers.
That alone is reason enough to carry one at all times.
That’s my advice J, do box and Thai box. Box to develop fast hands, good defense of the head, Thai to complement it, then Judo and BJJ for grappling and floor fight.
For a tight budget, the best thing is to find someone that does MMA and you can get all these form the same place. Or a gym where you can cover most of them with different classes for the same price.

For the ground fighting you are asking about, a MMA guy can help you. It's mostly just limited to rotating towards the attacker, your back against the floor, legs cocked so as to kick the feet and knee when the guy gets close. In real fights, I'd rather worry more about getting back on my feet as soon as possible!



eskil said...

Dear FerFAL.

I have been reading your blog for a few months now, but this is the first time I'll post a comment.

I was quite surprised at first by your reactions to 'Krav Maga', but after watching the videos I think I understand why you say KM is BS. I think you have been served BS with a KM-label.

I don't claim to be an expert on Krav Maga in any way, but I have trained it a few times with the Swedish Armed Forces and what I have learned there is not the same thing I see in those videos. Maybe because in the military nobody is trying to 'sell' Krav Maga with marketing BS. It is just someting we are supposed to handle.

Krav Maga is not a school of its own. It is all the basic techniques from asian martial arts with the concepts of conduct and honour removed. Asian martial arts with all the 'do' and without all 'dont'.

And yes we do spar. In the begining sparring is done in 'slow motion' so everyone can learn the technique. Then we spar for real dressed in riot-gear. This is enormously tiresome, but it is very close to what Krav Maga was designed for from the begining: Soldiers fightning ladden with bulky and heavy gear.

In contrast to most martial arts that depend very much on agility, Krav Maga is designed to work for a soldier dressed in full combat gear (and about as agile as a fridge). Hence most techniques relay on force and weight and not agility.

Compared to the other martial arts I have tried (mostly Karate and Ju-jitsu). KM feels much more usefull. It is simpler and more straight forward. Fancy moves may give good points in a martial art competition, but in a real fight the only thing you want is to put your opponent out of action as fast as possible.

FerFAL said...

Thanks for the comment Eskil.
I didn’t mean to offend anyone with the KM post.
I’m usually very straightforward and while that has earned me a few cookie points, when I don’t say good things about something people have invested time and money in it works the other way around.
Check this link. It’s all marketing, movies etc
Now it seems the guys that manage KM are trying to push it as a fitness program as well. Serious, the more I see about the latest KM developments, the less I like it.
I’d have more respect for it if I’d see good results when facing other disciplines. In MMA fights KM guys do pretty bad.
A friend sent me an email recently about one of the top KM instructors in Texas, and how he was easily beaten when fighting an average BJJ guy in his gym.
In vale todo there are no rules, yet KM guys don’t win.
Actually they do pretty bad.
At teh end of the day, that's waht really matters, ins't it?

If KM experts can't in against other fighters fomr other diciplines, no matter how lax the rules of engagement are, what's the point?
I dont need to see a dozen dead KM fighters. When they are KO or forced to tap out its clear to me that they lost, and would be dead in a no rule fight.

Again, this is my opinon. If you found a good instructor and that works for you then that's great.


Don Williams said...

Ferfal, I have a question. First, some background:

1) I've seen the SOE Syllabus for the H2H combat developed in WWII by Fairbairn-Sykes. It has just a few sucker punchs --chop to the throat,etc -- with emphasis on surprise and killing quickly. But it also notes that it was developed in the context of only having a few days for H2H training in wartime and that it was backup to the knife or gun. It notes that boxing/wrestling are valuable but that they require 6 months of time which the military didn't have. It advised strongly--as you do--against going to ground because an enemy's partner can kick your head in. Finally, the emphasis is on rapidly disabling an enemy because in a battlefield melee, you can't get tied up in a prolonged duel with a single opponent because that gives his buddies time to help him. Similarly, if a SOE spy dueled with one German soldier, that gave other soldiers time to swarm over him.
2) Fairbairn Sykes was developed for SOE spies and a cynical person might note that dead men tell no tales and that the fastest way to ensure a spy died on capture was to encourage him to attack armed men with bare hands. :) An even more cynical person might note that backup Plan B for Fairbairn H2H was the suicide pill.

3) Those ideas prevailed in military H2H for decades but in 2002 both the US Army and the Marine Corps went over to the MMA style you favor. With grappling and joint locks and boxing strikes included. The guy who implemented it for the Army indicated that part of the reason was to allow soldiers to spar so as to develop their skills -- that simply showing them some techniques over a 2 or 3 day training period didn't cut it.

4) I had thought initially that the military change was because counterterrorist operations require that you capture hostiles for interrogation --Hence, a shift to more emphasis on police control techniques -- whereas in conventional war you can just shoot them.

5) However, I also see signs that the military noticed the results of MMA -Brazilian JiuJitsu _Vale Tudo competitions around that time.

Which showed that boxers unfamilar with wrestling techniques could get rapidly beaten by grappling techniques. I.e, that a wrestler could protect himself from knockout, close rapidly with the boxer and that once he seized the boxer it was all over --because the boxer's limited training had not prepared him to resist a wrestler once seized.

However, boxers did better in later MMA competitions once they learned countermeasures to wrestlers attacks so that they could avoid takedowns,etc. It also seems that boxing depends upon having a certain amount of room so that you can dance away from a wrestler -- and that a boxer can have trouble he doesn't have room to maneuver.

Do this match up with what you've seen?

Don Williams said...

FYI, here is wiki on development of US Army Combatives (from Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiujitsu ,etc)and the 2002 Field Manual describing them:



Don said...

I have studied Chinese Goju and Shotokan karate, though I do not have a black belt in either. Of the two, I would recommend Goju, although both were beneficial to me in different ways.

One of the things I liked most about Goju was that many exercises are unchoreographed. I found sparring pretty easy with people of other styles (even if they were more advanced than me) because they were very prone to telegraphing their techniques. Since Goju is unplanned, your eye for that develops.

I do credit Shotokan for one thing though. The one thing that Shotokan really helped me with (and I studied it after Goju) was being hard when I wanted to be hard. I had learned fluidness and responsiveness from Goju, but my difficulty was with cementing in hard when I wanted to hold my ground and not give way.

Joseph said...


I agree with you on seemed very fond of high kicks that would leave the kicker rather vulnerable to strikes to the knee and crotch, if you missed or simply if the attacker dropped below your kick. I left after about 3 months.

timeLESS said...

How about traditional Jiu-Jitsu and Kickboxing? You will cover some boxing, kicking, throws, chokes, bars, nasty techniques (depending on jiu-jitsu teacher) and most importantly positioning from defending against multiple attackers which to me was a revelation.

take care

CapnRick said...

WoW, guys... some fun stuff here. Lots of sensible ideas presented in these posts. Thanks to you all. I enjoyed reading it.

Since the 8th grade, I have LOVED to fight. It led me to the Justice Department, where I got some boot-camp style training. Outside of that, the only other training I got was from the mean streets and the stuff you get in the military. BIG surprise... the stuff I learned on the street was what saved my life when confronted by five guys. That's a situation where weapons retention practice and training is a lot more important than kicking a peanut off some guy's head. When you have to fight to get to your gun, stamina is really important... especially when your opponent is 60 pounds heavier than you and pilled up. Cops don't have the option of running away that civilians have.

FerFal, I am a lifelong believer in the same ideas you expressed here... Dojo Kings are easy marks. When oriental martial arts started getting popular in the 1960s, I took a good look at it. I took up fencing, instead and eventually became an instructor... at the YWCA! Ahhh... the good old days!

Why fencing? Because I was born a klutz who never learned to dance until my 20s... I needed stamina, sure footed maneuvering under stress of attack in a life-or-death situation, and an outlet for pent-up aggression. Believe me, little 90 pound girls armed with a foil can give you an EXCELLENT workout and they still look fresh after a 5-minute bout. The fencing gave me what I needed. YMMV.

Now, I am racked up with arthritis from all the beatings I took over the last 65 years... some days I feel like I need a cane because my right knee gives out on me going down stairs. I live in MarDel next door to a KM "school" run by a nice guy from BsAs who had a school in Tampa, FL. His wife is from MarDel, so they opened up a place here. From what I see, KM has the benefits of getting the students worked up into a sweat, strengthening the hitting bones of the body used as weapons in unarmed combat, and acclimatizing folks who will hopefully never use it to hitting somebody. I like it that they have drills, like they do in law enforcement schools, where one guy has to defend himself for several minutes against several heavily armored/padded attackers.... some with knives and guns. I agree that the concepts taught in these schools are kinda lame... but, it could help someone who might not otherwise survive get a better chance to escape. Everyone can't be FerFAL or CapnRick.

I have always smiled politely and tried to nod my head at the right time while listening to someone extol the virtues of a particular martial art. Some even went so far as to say that their lives had been changed by a particular martial art. I just smiled and nodded, thinking..."Buddy, if that is true, your life must have REALLY needed changin'!"

That said, I have worked as a gang intelligence officer, interacting with hundreds of different jurisdictions in 24 countries, and studied various training methods. I tried to take something helpful away from each. It always seems that no matter how well trained you are, if your donut eatin', beer swilling belly has your belt buckle pointed at the floor, some old, arthritic, mean guy who's too "broke-up" to run is going to kick your butt in 14 seconds because he can't go 15 seconds... or, shoot you.

Due to my work, I was privileged...TRULY privileged to know some of the finest officers in law enforcement. Many had a strong attachment for a particular martial art. Because I respected THEM, I respected their strong beliefs. Most of them are still alive. Maybe something they learned in a class somewhere kept them from dying in a bad place.

May I respectfully suggest that WHATEVER YOU BELIEVE, STAY IN SHAPE. Fencing is a good way to do that... check out the Y! hahahaha

Regards -Rick

Anonymous said...

you mentioned boxing for self defense, I just came across this video that I think will be useful for you and your readers. they can download it for free.

Panantukan 1 by Rick Faye [Tutorial] | 780 MB
Trainer: Rick Faye | Run Time: 90 minutes | $30.00
The versatile and explosive art of Filipino Boxing

Panantukan is the versatile and explosive art of Filipino Boxing. Filipino Boxing develops the attributes of body positioning for maximum impact, the ability to hit from any angle with any surface of the fist, hand, elbow or arm and superior defensive structure.

This dvd is the first in Rick Faye's Panantukan DVD series (to be 3 videos). Panantukan 1 covers strikes, defenses, combinations, pad work, partner work, and some basic hubud drills.



Anonymous said...

Hi Ferfal, this is my first time visiting your page, but it looks good. Something similar happened to me not long ago while going to that new mall (DOT) and going by the villa. I've been training muay thai for two years here in the capital, so luckily i was able to handle it and get the hell out of there. I would say muay thai, coupled with BJJ is your best bet. is an excellent site and will tell you where and when to go if you're interested. It's cheap, everybody there is cool and it is a very high quality program. take care.

Anonymous said...

Love the blog. Just starting out. Regarding H2H, I have never taken any particular style. I was "recruited" to join a guy who was just setting up his shop in the mid-80's in the L.A. area. He got me to join with the following statement. "I will not teach you to fight, I will teach to end a fight. When you are in a fight they other person is trying to hurt you, you must hurt them first and both take the fight out of them and take them out of the fight" First class, was just me and him. He wanted to assess me and it was a full on sparring session. From there it was training with him and whoever else he/I had got to join up. He had no certificates of anything. He had a state wrestling championship, a few boxing plaques. He was a military brat and had lived and trained in Korea, Okinowa and the Phillipines. Every class was several hours long. Starting with Fitness (sit ups, jumping jacks, push ups), then learning a new technique (not form), practice of the technique then full sparring. Full sparring means an actual in pads. Hitting people while they were on the ground, etc. During the sparring all you got from him was "Fight your way out of it." and when executed well, "Excellent technique." He didn't care how pretty it was, only how effective it was. We sparred in the "dojo", in the alley (on concrete), the parking lot, his house ("you break anything you pay for it"). Knee shots and eye pokes were taught but not allowed in sparring. Groin shots were allowed but not encouraged to be full strength (but at least 50%). When impairment or injury was obvious, he stopped it. We sparred, from one on one all the way to 4 on 1. Remember our sparring was a real fight (but with pads). In multiple scenarios we learned quickly that even quick and efficient takedown moves were extremely risky but not an all-together no-no, it just depended on quick you could recover and regain your feet. We sparred with 2x2's covered in chalk (as it's not a good idea to use a real knife)

One thing that was stressed, side kick right below the knee cap and kick through the knee. But only do it if you feel you needed it to "survive" the situation (meaning walk away unharmed). Certain times you just won't do it because it's not that type of fight.

Anyways, what I want to stress here is whatever you join, if they don't spar and force you to fight out of jams, quit and go elsewhere or talk to a few people in the class to see if they feel the same way, then approach the instructor as a group and request the sparring to go further than he allows. Usually they'll allow it if you all volunteer to sign additional waivers. You need to practice in as much as a real world situation as you can. Fighting disciplines are nothing unless practiced and practiced to the end. That is the most important piece of advice I can give anyone. Will you go home with black eyes, fat lips, etc? Yeah, most likely (and I frequently did) but when it becomes real, you'll be much better for it. Trust me.