If you look around at various blogs about self-defense or ask certain people with experience of fighting. They, in the end, tend to end up saying the same thing. Don’t fight if you can at all avoid it. Why? Where is the tough man attitude that says winner takes all and I’m the main man?
The reason this tends to be stated is that a real fight or Self-Defense situation is so chaotic and unpredictable that anyone with enough experience knows that it is better to avoid it if you can. The gung ho attitude of youth is replaced with a more philosophical view based on the experience of seeing many things go wrong and many situations that start easy, end up being ridiculously difficult and dangerous.
A dose of reality
This is a quote from Kelly McCann asking his uncle, a world war two veteran, about the reality of combat and the answer came as a bit of a surprise to him.
“So what was closing with the enemy like?” I asked. “I mean, how did it sort out on the battlefield? How’d you pick a particular Jap to go after, and how did each of them target a Marine?” Johnny picked up his glass and looked away, clearing his throat. “It’s not like that; it’s a collision. It’s like the worst goddamned bar fight you can imagine—but to the death. It’s chaos.”
McCann, Kelly. Combatives for Street Survival: Volume 1: Index Positions, the Guard and Combatives Strikes (p. 2). Independent Publishers Group. Kindle Edition.
The title may seem a bit of an odd one, so let me explain a little bit.
To defend yourself against someone who is attacking you, you need a certain amount of know-how and skill. Realistically speaking, you will have had to train to develop this skill and know-how. So at first, it would seem odd that I would suggest that an important part of this would be failing because that doesn’t make sense.
The point is this. Anyone who has achieved any level of skill and knowledge at anything has dealt with failure along the way. They attempted to do something to improve and failed at it. They then went back to that something and tried again. And again! Until they were somewhere near what they wanted. To drive home the point then is that the sooner you accept that you are on a learning curve and will get things wrong, the sooner you will be on the path to better learning. The sooner you deal with failing, the sooner you will improve your skills.
How would understanding failure apply directly to Self-Defense?
Improve your skills by pressure testing your self-defense techniques
There is a reasonably famous ( or infamous ) martial arts book by Geoff Thompson called “Animal Day” in which he describes his class that is designed to test the martial arts skills of his students as realistically as possible. I quote:
“Animal Day is a term that I coined many years ago and is basically a universal way of pressure testing technique and character in a controlled environment, but let’s not pretend, there will be elements missing that can only be found in a live scenario. What Animal Day will do though is get you as close as damn it.”
To quote further,
“In Animal Day, you may test your system to the full where you will be working with non-compliant opponents who will be unsympathetic to weakness in spirit or technique…you will see little or no trapping, the distance is only there for a fleeting second before it is swallowed up by flailing/colliding bodies.”
Relating this to your training
So how does this apply to your training? As mentioned before ( see blog ) if you focus on training in techniques that you are more likely to use in a real self-defense situation, what you then need to do is test them under varying degrees of pressure.
The Geoff Thompson “Animal Day” class may seem quite extreme but you must remember that they are aimed at seasoned martial artists who are dealing with street situations on a regular basis. These people are generally not afraid to take some serious knocks in training to hone their skills. This is something you can work towards but at your own pace. How?
The same way you would eat an elephant, as the expression goes. One mouthful at a time, that is how. Here are some examples of how it might be applied:
Building up to pressure testing
What you have to do is take your time in building up to putting yourself under pressure. When you train any technique,and feel you have mastered it, slowly build into it, a lack of compliance.