Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Self Defence Tricks vs Concepts

I have been chatting with a young Taekwondo 3rd dan lately about self defence.

He has been telling me about what he does for self defence, and how his taekwondo is different and superior to all others. Including thier use of 'dim mak' type of pressure points.

It is good to see someone who is devoted and enthusiastic about thier martial arts, but it is apparent that that devotion may have blinded this person to reality.

During discussions with this perons and many other martial artists, one thing that has become very noticeable is that most martial artists are proud of how many different ways they have to dispatch an attacker and to deal with the myriad ways in which they are attacked.

The young taekwondo black belt proudly exclaimed that he knew and needed at least 5 different ways to deal with any (each) sort of attack.

He could not understand when I claimed that I had one concept that I applied to all the most likely self defence situations. I attempted to explain the reasons for my minimalist approach to self defence, but was countered with, "but what if they do something that is slightly different".

So which is better?

Do we need 5 techniques to deal with a right cross, another 5 to deal with a headlock, and another 5 to deal with someone grabbing us?

Or are all these techniques really just 'tricks'

As an example of the techniques used I was shown the following to deal with being grabbed around the throat a held against a wall:

Technique 1: Push down into the Jugular notch

Technique 2: Using two hands grab the wrist (two 'pressure points' indicated on the forearm) and push (force) the arm and in turn the attacker back.

Both of these techniques were demonstrated, and all though there was no adrenaline involved, neither technique proved to be effective, and certainly did not deal with the likelyhood of receiving a punch in the face. Yes there was some small amount of pain involved, but not that much. Not enough to stop me or to even dissuade me from advancing or countering his escape attempt with a punch to the face if I had wanted.

Effectivelly these two 'self defence' techniques are nothing more than gimmicks. They are tricks that may work against non resisting training partners, but they are still nothing more than tricks and certainly not usefull for real self defence. There was no cover of any sort in case I decided to start punching, and in fact the second defence tied up both arms, removing the possibility of any sort of effective block or cover.

Then I was shown a counter to a full nelson. My first response was, WHY? Why do I need a counter to a full nelson, its not exactly an easy technique to apply in the first place. If someone goes for it, you simply lower your arms and turn into them.

But I was shown a technique that involed assumming a rigid stance with the arms locked out in front of the body (legs in horse riding stance). The techniue certainly worked, I could not apply a full nelson, so I moved onto a 'shredder' type head control from the rear instead. He had no answer to that one.

Realistically, by assuming that locked up position, he made it difficult to deal with anything else, so what would a normal assailant (assuming normal assailants put people in full nelsons in the first place) do. Move onto a choke or other hold, punch etc I would bet.

There was no attempt to turn into and face me so he could defend himself from a better position, he was happy to assume the stance and maintain it till i gave up going for the full nelson. Not a good training philosophy.

Looking at most martial arts, and I have trained in and watched a few over the years, one thing that does stand out is the vast amount of techniques they have to deal with different grabs, punches etc.

Looking at the techniques, I would classify most of them as mere tricks, usefull for looking good and fluffing up the syllabus of that particular martial art. But certainly not based on reality. Then of course if you have so many techniques to choose from, which do you pick, when under duress.

So what would a 'realistic' technique be to deal with the situation mentioned above (throat grab and push up against the wall)

Really anything that provides a measure of cover for a possible punch (which is likely to come when you start to fight back), maintains your balance (so you dont end up under someones boots) and removes the hand from around the throat. Then of course there needs to be some form of counter attack or control initiated so that you dont just end up back were you started or even worse copping a beating.

I will throw up some video or photo's in my next post to show how I would do this.

If the three elements of cover, balance and control (over the assailant) are not present, then what have you achieved? except to possibly piss of the assailant even more and indicate you are going to have a go back (losing the element of surprise whilst achieving nothing useful)

Control could mean, a tie up that neutralizes the attacker or at least stops them via some form of injury or knockout (chokes included).

So have a look at your responses to the most common form of assault/ attacks. Are they merely 'tricks' or will they actually stop a commited attacker.

I like to practice or test this by having the person playing the role of attacker put on a pair of boxing gloves and 'open up' with punches or whatever they feel they need to win as soon as they feel resistance from me. This is the trype of training you need to test your techniques. Does chosen technique deal with this circumstance?

Does your chosen technique stop or control the attacker?

Or do you get quickly overwhelmed by the punches comming at your head?

Can you instictivelly access and perfrom your chosen technique under pressure and the effects of adrenaline?

Both parties can wear helmets if required, but the punches do have to be real enough to hurt at least, that is if you want to test yourself and your SD technique.

When you do this you quickly learn that having a single 'concept' that works against many different types of attacks is much more likely to be usefull in a real self defence situation than a collection of 'tricks'.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Juggernaut! Many martial artists have far too many techniques they regularly practise. Many would read this is say "what is the problem with having numerous counters to each possible attacking technique?"

    Like you say, often they are no more than untested tricks. Also, having many techniques that are regularly practised can 'confuse' the automatic response under stress, thus slowing and perhaps missing the opportunity to counter effectively.

    The ideal would be to have one technique that works for all attacks with simply slight variations where necessary as you said. Proficiency under stress will quickly be achieved.

    Great first post.