Monday, January 25, 2010

Reply:"Other self defense tools: Kubotan as a daily protection‏"

Don Williams said...
Ferfal, I have been reading about Brazilian JiuJitsu (BJJ). Basically, the argument of the Gracies is that a fight will inevitably transition from striking to a clinch -- at which point someone skilled in grappling can throw or take down a boxer and take him out with a choke or joint lock.

Some highly skilled masters of the striking arts agree that this is a high probability -- although some MMA fighters have been good enough at wrestling to prevent the takedown and to win with strikes.

Some masters of pretty effective striking arts now say that grappling skills are essential to learn for self defense.

I myself have wondered about someone using eye gouges in a real fighter -- but the opinion of some people is that the time window for that tactic is so short that it is not a sure defense.

Do you have any opinion on this? Can a striker in a real fight avoid a takedown -- and hence should focus more on his striking skills than on learning groundfighting?

Surprise sucker punches obviously could be of value -- but the law frowns on the person who strikes first even when a preemptive attack is justified. Such is hard to prove, however.
January 24, 2010 3:11 PM

Hi Don,
It is true that fights on the street are not like the ones in the gym. That doesn't mean that gym training isn't useful, it very much is, the difference is the other variables that you can't control.

Some people that have little or no idea about either gym or street fighting will dismiss the first one as mere "sports" with no real world value. Apparently these guys think they can't beat the crap out of Tito Ortiz simply because they'd fight him in the parking lot instead of the octagon, as if some invisible force gave them extra powers because you know... its the streets and its no "sport". To those guys I'd say: Pick a fight with Tito, "Hiena" Barrios or any other pro fighter, and after you get your butt seriously kicked we can talk about it a bit more. :-)

The points of greatest importance in street fighting vs Sport fighting aren't kicks in the nuts or eye gouges, but rather the variables such as other people getting involved and weapons.

Try fighting someone with no rules, you'll soon see that the "dirty tricks" while some very effective, aren't nearly as easy to apply as they sound in theory.

Spike kick ?(that's a quick kick to the groin, straight up)
Certainly a fight finishing move, but sure isn't easy to land that blow against a smart fighter.
Eye Gouge?
Again, works, but not as well as you might think. I had a guy claw my face, going for my eyes. Keeping them well shut and moving around I still managed to force him to tap out with a neck choke. 
Had it been a street fight with no tap out, I would have left him unconcious on the floor or worse.
Breaking fingers?
Most often the hand is fisted, moving around fast. Like the spike kick, easier said than done. Still, you can do it in a street fight if you have the possibility, but of course its impossible to train such things nor does it make much sense. You dont train bashing a brick into someone's head but hey, if you can do it then more power to you in a street fight.

BJJ is a terrific martial art and I'd highly recommend it. That said, you do NOT want to end up in the floor during a street fight, no matter how good you are. That's why I recommend a combination of boxing and BJJ, along with armed self defense both knife and gun. 

A fight my brother had once relates to some of these things. He jammed his fingers into the guy's eyes, so hard he ended up with a permanent crooked finger, but that didn't end the fight: When the other guy was on his knees (both of them on the ground) a friend of my brother came running and kicked the guy in the head like a soccer ball, ending the fight for good. That's a street fight, that's the X factor that you can't control, no matter if your freaking Royce Gracie, you can't control the stranger kicking you in the head or stabbing you in the back or smashing your skull with a bottle.

About your question regarding grappling or striking. Learn both! 
Who wins?, Iron Mike Tyson or Gracie (both at their prime, not the broken Tyson we saw in his final stages). If Tyson lands a punch its bye bye Gracie, if Gracie tackles him Tyson is forced to tap out.
Now, an even better example, Gracie and Tyson, both with a month worth of training and pointers on the other ones respective discipline. My money goes to Tyson. 
There's a saying in Spanish about boxing; Big and mediocre beats small and good",
It means that strenght and size do make a difference in a fight. Some exceptionally talented fighters can overcome that (Royce did it often) but in most cases big and strong beats small and talented. That's why the physical part is very important as well, the bulk strength  you have.

All this boils down to one piece of advice: While any training is better than none, avoid the schools that base themselves on "dirty tricks" or "secrets only taught to special forces" or "No, this move is so deadly, it can only be taught when you reach this or that level...""That's why you'll never see this in sporing fights! This is too deadly for sports!" If someone gives you any of that BS, run from that place while grabbing your wallet just to make sure.

Most self defense classes teach eye gauges and other "dirty tricks". It can be explained to my 57 year old mom and yes, she'd feel safer and more confident. What's important to understand is: They do work, ok? but know the limitations of these tricks, know that a real thug probably has been eye gouged his entire life, beaten by his own foster father since he can remember and doesn't care nearly as much as you do if he loses an eye or not. Don' t be too over confident about your abilities because of these self defense moves you may learn. Better yet, try them against a non cooperative partner and see where it gets you.



Shambhala said...

Amen brother. Trained and strong beats trained and weak or strong but untrained.

PRCalDude said...

"Brazilian" jiu-jitsu is just ripped off ne-waza from judo. Judo ground techniques and "B"JJ techniques are all the same. Actually, I've seen more ground techniques in judo.

BJJ practitioners don't have the foot balance and throw techniques of judo players which is why it has much less value as a self defense martial art. Its value is in vale-tudo matches that inevitably go to the ground.

As FerFAL stated, it's better to stay on your feet and get away quickly.

Anonymous said...

As a 3-stripe BJJ blue belt(about 2 yrs of training), I would say that the best benefit of BJJ, in my opinion, is knowing how to get up and knowing how to fall in such a way that you maintain control of your opponent.

For example, if you're on your back and someone is sitting on your stomach or chest(full mount) using their body weight to pin both of your arms, what do you do? Most people would try to flop around in a panic while taking punches to the face and using all of their energy. A trained BJJ practitioner would know exactly how to improve their position and turn the fight to their favor.

If you have poor balance, no sprawl, etc and get taken down, again, an untrained person would wait until they hit the ground in order to start trying to stand up. Someone skilled in BJJ will be positioning themselves while they're falling so that when they hit, they have a good chance of being able to control their opponent's body or, if possible, end the fight with a technique.

Fernando is right about needing stand up fighting skills as well. I've seen guys who are impossible to beat on the ground get picked apart on their feet by a halfway decent muay thai fighter, boxer, or kickboxer. However, once those fighters were taken to the ground, especially with pure boxers, the BJJ fighter quickly ended the fight.

As for the age old question of Tyson in his prime vs Royce Gracie in his prime, I'd have to say Tyson. He was just too strong and too fast.

Now, Tyson in his prime vs Anderson Silva or Lyoto Machida right now, Silva and Machida both beat Tyson without question. Tyson would have a puncher's chance, but that's it.

Anonymous said...

Amen to what the brothers said.

I have been in too, too many fights. One of my masters once told me I was an awful fighter, not good for street fighting. I don't feel good for street-fighting. I'm five-foot nothing (1.6 to 1.7 meters) and light. I grew up with a large violent dad though, and pound for pound I hit and throw hard. In fights I have done things I could never repeat... there's some sort of savage energy that comes out.

That said, everyone needs to train. The more I have trained and the older I have gotten, the calmer I feel when jumped, the more "in-control" of the situation. It's really rotten to be surrounded by several attackers, but if you can keep your head you can walk away... and hopefully be so strong/confident that they run. As FERF pointed out, if the guy had an abusive father what does he care about losing an eye at that point? Worse, let's say you severely injure (or kill) in self-defense. Do you need the stress of police questioning, a trial, time missed from work, esp. if you have a family to feed? Better to have a cool head and see how to end the fight without blows or to give a stunning attack. I have fought, and friends have fought and gotten lucky shots in early and so shocking that the attackers simply gave up before things got scrappy. Isn't that better than knives, clawing, hospitals, blood and police reports? It's better, it is.

I've worked out with some VERY talented martial artists, but not very good fighters They've gotten hurt. I've also worked with sloppy martial artists but cunning street fighters... they've dealt a lot of hurt.

A lot of power fighting comes from practice, training and instinct. I think a lot of having a crummy childhood can do wonders for one's survival instinct. I'm sure it's saved my bacon many a time, but on the flip side, I've also had to spend my whole life (over a 1/3 of a century) warding off attacks from bullies and creeps that view small people as weak. I'd rather just be left in peace and practice fighting for fun and health benefits.

Anyhow, sorry for the rant. Be careful, be inconspicuous and be ready. Go in peace.

Anonymous said...

My last thought is..don't get overconfident whatever your martial arts style. A few years ago in the big city near me, a local karate high ranking black belt, one of the best in the country in his style, was forced into his home by a robber with gun. After giving him his money while in his home, the victim thought that he was going to be killed anyway so tried to take down the robber. He was shot multiple times and the robber escaped. The black belt spent mucho time in intensive care but survived. His students were of two groups. One group was horrified that he hadn't been able to take the guy and had been grievously wounded. The other group believed that he survived only becuase of his great martial arts skills. Damned if know who is correct but it lets you know that no one is bullet proof.


tjbbpgobIII said...

Your statement about the guy beaten by a father or stepfather and doesn't care how much he is hurt it spot on. A lot of the fights I've seen or been involved in around bars or other such places absolutely goes to that guy whose give- a- shit has been roken. When my dad forced me to fight the local bully I found out the hurt is not forever and you will get over it. Thereafter I never waited on someone to start a fight and never took one outside (after school or work or recess). If it's important enough to fight over after while it's more than enough rteason to do it now. We'll just work our way outside.

Don Williams said...

My thanks to Ferfal and the commenters for the insights.

Anonymous said...

Most attacks on the street aren't done by people who are adept at martial arts (they require discipline, time and money to learn for one thing). Instead your attackers are 'street punks' who have fought alot and have perfected their own dirty brutal form of street fighting. In fact they specialise in attacking people in groups not individually. So the concept of strker vs grappler is irrelevant.

I'm surprised noone has brought up aikido as self defense martial art. If you read its wikipedia page it says, training against multiple opponents in an unstructured environment is standard and also that the cultivation of a calm and collected mind in the face of even death is also taught.
Checkout this pure aikido video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aicHsMC6rxM
A few of those moves should be enough to get safely out of a fight. But as a backup I think one should learn how to punch, elbow and headbutt effectively. Grappling in the street with multiple opponents is just suicide. Also grappling systems don't teach you hot to AVOID going to the floor.

Anonymous said...

Very true Ferfal. When I first answered Don, I am the one who said that boxing or judo is not as important as the skill level, I forgot to add to stay off the ground because of what Ferfal said, the attack by other people that you were not fighting before. I learned that lesson when some thief tried to take my iPod right off my ears because I was alone and not in my neighborhood. Most Americans will know what I mean by that. I grabbed him by the throat with my fingers since his hands were busy trying to steal my iPod and that was the easiest thing for me to do. I brought him down so I could finish him and get out of there without having him fight back. The problem was that it was taking him some time to pass out, and his friends had time to get to me. I felt kicks and a 40 oz beer bottle was smashed on my shin. I went from winning to losing in one second. This would have ended badly for me, except that I got lucky and some people I did not know stepped in for me because they saw what happened and they had some sense of honor about letting a fight run fair. No one should ever count on that happening and I consider myself very lucky! Again - stay off the ground, so that you can also run when things go bad against you.

Anonymous said...

Have you actually studied aikido? It has positive aspects but you have to get really good to use it. Friends have studied it and sparred with me. Street punks don't just run across the dojo for you to spin around. Not practical, IMHO.


Anonymous said...

In regards to 'instinct' and fighting power. I will say this. If someone does not know to what power they have in moments of extreme stress and danger, then they do not know their fighting capability irrespective of how much formal training they receive. I say this because with the effects of adrenalin and 'berserker', enraged mental states ones strength can be quadrupled, as it is for mental patients for example.

Woman are the most ignorant of this 'hidden power' they have in themselves and would never think to lash out fully, but the majority of men fall into this group also.

The best manner I can think of that does not involve probably seriously hurting someone. Is to practice on a heavy bag that is not fixed to anything. Then visualize some terrible thing like the bag is a person who wants to torture your children and go berserk. You should be very sore at the end of this (having sprained most of your muscles) and require weeks to recover. If you cannot do this, don't EVER get into a real fight with someone. Because if they can go on a 'berserker rage' on you then you are toast.

This may reveal why 'street punks' and ruffians can overpower much stronger and better trained individuals. Due to their dangerous life conditions they have learned how to tap into this 'berserker rage' drastically increasing their fighting ability and making up for their lack of technique and training. This is seen in emergencies when average people are able to lift cars or jump over 3 meter fences in 2 second or my dad who personally lifted up a man with one hand when he was trapped in a train.

Anonymous said...

I agree Aikido is pretty useless if thats all your relying on. (its correct practice actually isn't supposed to hurt your opponent).

But specifically valuable is its techniques of placement of the body (sort of like full body dodging in contrast to just the upper body like in boxing, this full body movement can also be used offensively) and control of your opponents balance. Two very valuable things I have yet to see done by any other martial art. Other martial arts actually encourages facing your opponent head on.

Some Guy said...

Aikido is a spiritual practice in the guise of a martial art, and not a fighting art. The founder said as much. He was a highly skilled jiu-jitsu practitioner and war veteran who developed Aikido as a way of exorcising his demons. Combat had nothing to do with it.

I studied it for a while. You will never learn how to fight for shit if you study only Aikido.

There are Aikido practitioners who can fight, but they all came to Aikido with a fighting background.

You can learn some valuable stuff from Aikido, especially how to fall and how to control your balance as well as someone else's, but you would be better off learning these in a western wrestling environment or BJJ.

Most practitioners of Aikido are hippies. What does that tell you.

Don Williams said...

Re Kyle at 11:15 am: "Most practitioners of Aikido are hippies. What does that tell you?"

Er..that you will get your arm snapped like a twig if you try to take Steven Seagal's marijuana?

Bryce said...

Re: the headbutt comment above.

"Nobody wins in a headbutt" - Paul Blart, Mall Cop

Anonymous said...

When I say balance I mean just controlling someones momentum or making someone fall over. BJJ is a grappling fighting style so it encourages going to the floor. Aikido because it focuses on using the minimum strength and never using it head on. Means it could be used to deflect grappling attacks. Which is invaluable when fighting multiple opponents in self defense. I'm not sure how to distill this from the aikido practice, but it sounds and looks really useful. Just look at the multiple people attacking this guy at the end of the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aicHsMC6rxM
Just one or two of those moves would be sufficient to deflect a grappling attack or a charge, enabling you to runaway to safety. I think BJJ is more of a liability as it encourages people to go to the ground, if they did that, they'd just get kicked in the head. If BJJ taught you how to grapple 2 people at the same time it might be more useful for self defence.

Bob said...

PRCalDude: Hi, I'm a seasoned BJJ blue belt, and I take Judo black belts for breakfast. I can't take you down with a fancy throw, but I can still pull guard, and go for the submission. With judo players I usually go for the foot/knee locks. They don't know how to deal with them. Yes, those same techniques once were part of your style, until it stop being a Martial Art to become a 'killed by rules' Sport.

And as a BJJ dude, I'll never go for ground work on the streets, but people usually forgot that I can pull a Mata-leon (standing rear-nake choke) and walk away, using the guy as a shield. Or crash him on the floor with a quick Bahiana, and get up quickly to be prepared for the next strike, or wisely run away.