This is a continuation of Part 1: Why Having Beach Muscles Will Not Help You Win Fights
You’ve been practicing and perfecting your martial art of choice for more than a decade. You feel as if your mastery of form, technique, and timing can overcome any foe that you face. While under the right circumstances you may be right, you may also be in serious need of a reality check. The following are some facts you may want to consider:
1. A real fight is not a sparring match.
Performing your technique in a class environment, sparring environment, or the comfort of padded mats and protective gear is one thing. Getting shoved to the ground, obscenities shouted your way, sucker punched in the face, or suddenly having an object thrown against your head can instantly skyrocket your heart rate and adrenaline levels, causing you to be flustered and lose control of yourself.
This is where your mental strength and training comes into play. Can you remain calm in the face of danger in order to execute your techniques effectively and get the job done? Most people who haven’t sparred in as-close-to-the-real-thing type of conditions or have never been in a “real fight” will not react very well to such a situation and often break or freeze up.
2. There are weight classes for a reason.
Unless you’re an Olympic-level caliber athlete in your form of martial art (and even then it depends what your martial art is), it’s best not to take on anybody who has anything more than 20lbs. or 120% of your body weight on you.
In the previous article we explained that having superior technique and knowledge will always beat size and strength. However this is negated if your opponent is larger and stronger than you and possesses A) plausible or equal skill, B) a beserker attitude or under the influence of drugs, or C) too much of a size advantage for you to use any techniques at all. Suddenly that Judo throw isn’t looking so useful when that 250lbs. monster of a man lifts you up into the air and bear hug squeezes the life out of you.
3. You don’t do any exercises that condition your body.
You’ve been training your technique for years, but you’ve never lifted weights to increase your strength and power and you’ve never ran a mile to help your cardiovascular conditioning. Technique can be negated by an athlete who trains in strength conditioning, who hits harder and faster than you and never runs out of gas.
4. Your martial art of choice may either be too impractical (traditional) or too watered down for sport (modern) to be of any use in real life.
Traditional Martial Arts in a Real Fight:
Various Chinese, Japanese, and Korean martial arts systems such as Wing Chun, Aikido, Karate, Taekwondo, etc. teach self-defense techniques that only work if your opponent does something very specific and stands there like a gentleman waiting for you to execute your picture perfect technique on them. Unless your opponent is a complete chump or you are an extremely high level practitioner of the art and well trained (which most of us aren’t), you will be at a loss of what to do when someone punches you, shoves you backwards, or closes the distance on you and starts grappling / clinching with you (ie. a real fight).
However, the good thing about Chinese Kung Fu and other traditional systems is that it emphasizes strikes and techniques to crucial pressure point areas, joints, the crotch, throat, and eyes. If you can remain calm and execute these fight-ending techniques without being flustered by a punch or takedown, then traditional martial arts is extremely useful in this sense.
Modern Martial Arts in a Real Fight:
Mixed Martial Arts and their core disciplines of Boxing, Muay Thai, Wrestling, and Jiu Jitsu are great because in most circumstances, they do what they’re supposed to do and it works. Boxing teaches you to punch someone (with force) without being punched, Muay Thai teaches you to kick and knee your opponent until he’s down, Wrestling teaches you to take your opponent to the ground or keep the fight standing, and Jiu Jitsu teaches you to choke your opponent out or break their limbs if the fight reaches the ground. When does all of this not work? When your opponent refuses to play by the rules.
There is something that needs to be said for Mixed Martial Artists who are tricked into the romanticism of engaging in a no holds barred fight. Much like traditional martial artists are romanticized into using traditional techniques that don’t really work in a real fight, modern martial artists or mixed martial artists are romanticized into being “macho” and think that “slugging it out” with the other guy or “choking him unconscious” are the best ways to beat an opponent. They think that an MMA fight, a sport fight, a fight with rules, equals to a real fight. It’s as close to the real thing as possible, but it’s not a real fight.
If you box with me, I’m going to finger jab you in the eye socket, or kick you in the nuts. If you clinch me and try to throw knees, I will uppercut you in the nuts. If you try to take me down, I will pull your ears or shove my fingers deep into your eye sockets when you grab my leg or are in the process of taking me down to the ground. If you have me on the ground and I’m in your guard, I will scratch your eyes out, grab your nuts as you go for a triangle choke, or ground and pound your face to mush.
Fight a smart fight. Don’t fight someone who is going to absorb all your strikes, pry your arm off from a choke attempt, and proceed to knock you out with a Zangief piledriver and stomps. If you do MMA, be smart and don’t try to be macho. Just end the fight the quickest way possible, using MMA as a base to get you there safely and effectively.