Fighting Sports vs. Self Defense Training Method / Boaz Aviram

Many times you see a demo in Krav Maga sort of, hoping to see more resistance than what you normally would see from the attacker. 

Many times it looks like the attacker is going along with the defender's counter to avoid pain and possible damage knowing he should not resist. If the attack however looks far off from realistic speed and reach, then you can conclude that that school does not teach maximum efficient attacks and therefore can never drill maximum efficient defensive tactics.  That means that their defensive moves are not tested and are not probable to work in most scenarios.

Efficient method of attack is one that uses maximum efficiency in its impact generation, reach, non projected use of the element of surprise, and realistic ability to execute continuous attacks if the first is missed or was not sufficient enough, and to protect the body while entering the hot zone against most tactical counter attacks.

In mixed martial arts you can notice many times that when a fighter does continuous strikes they increase the strength moderately to be in the break-even zone not to hurt their opponent badly but just enough to tire them out of pain or stamina so they can win.

Many times the referee calls it a victory based on what it looks like that if the defender would have kept going he would have killed or hurt badly his non resisting attacker that got too weak to fight back. But the attacker is like a fish that was out of the water temporarily and if put back will immediately start to swim again.

At some point it was realized by martial arts instructors and organizations, that competitive athleticism increase enrollments. With strict state laws, they had to keep it safe. In the past and today you would have specialized impact sports separated with specialized grappling sports competitions. Some were a mix of both. Today these are becoming more popular.

Let's take Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiujitsu which are the most prevailed training systems for people that do mixed martial arts competitively. In Muay Thai, the exploration of punching, kicking and elbowing to most parts of the body is allowed in a civilized competition.

They teach many types of attack combination reaching pressure points that are within reach, advancing to pressure points that are harder to reach until the final defeat. Overall however there are not enough stress of a Center Body Lunging opening Kick, nor a lunging side kick to the knee.

Perhaps it is from years of safe training preventing harsh injuries to the groin and knee joint. Just imagine if the rate of injuries in these sports was that high how many people would join the club!  
Generally what harm can it be exchanging kicks to the calves or blocking with a shin aside of swelling?

In BJJ the drilling evolve around the transitioning between traditional Judo stressing the last resort counter techniques and stamina to prevail in submission on the ground. There is not enough stress on generating impact from any static or even transitional position on soft pressure points.

It seems although that in mixing the two in a competitive match, if push comes to shove the borders will be crossed a bit but still with a tendency to preserve the core techniques and principles of the original training system.

From mixed martial arts point of view, you take the best individual fighting sports and mix them so you get impact and push and pull. However still this is a competition. So the training methods would have to fit the constraint of safety!  Yet, if you take grappling where it is easier to control the minimum force applied and mix it with impact sport where its harder to control the impact force safe competitions become much more involved.

The Mixed Martial Arts is a more of evolving field. By trial and error coaches are devising tactics and training method according to their experience and goals. I remember Imrich Lichtenfeld, RIP, Boxer Wrestler and a Gymnast in his youth that became the founder of the Israel Defense Force Krav Maga saying: "One day they will all come to our street". What he meant was that one day they will all conclude that our method is the best training method (for self defense.)  The truth is that most military and police around the world teach a civilian fighting sport as a form of preparation for hand-to-hand-combat.

From mixed martial arts point of view you are learning every fighting sport and mixing it without thinking too much into it. It seems that they could use some more thought to prioritize a bit.   
But in a way they are right in what they are doing. The Fighting Sports are pretty safe. So they try to combine them and keep safety in training and in competitions.  Still as much mixing as they do, the end product is not related to self defense!

Realizing that while Jujitsu is doing best in winning grappling drills, and Muay Thai is doing best in kicks and blows competitive fighting drills, a blow and a kick which are not allowed in Jujitsu fighting drills is now allowed in MMA and therefore the grappling should change a bit in prioritizing.

This requires totally different thinking. Instead of trying to execute fluid swings from one ground restraining technique to another, perhaps better focus would be to try to reach first for allowed pressure points in any possible move. 

Some fighters adopted this method, and some still try to use the vast curriculum of Jujitsu if they can.  If they can't, they will resort to a more efficient approach and if they like Jujitsu, they will use it for desert when the opponent is too distracted to fight back they will force him to submit with extra slow pressure and pain. Yet while not utilizing soft pressure points completely, they must resort somewhat to other forms of leverages on larger body parts. 

Let's compare some techniques: The Pure Krav Maga Grappling Escapes taught statically to escape from a static position.

The idea is to program your brain and body to reach to a pressure point in the head or pelvis area, from static position and then with motion of falling being taken off balance thrown to the floor, etc.

In BJJ the core of the training is to see each restraining technique as a transitional stop and drill moving to the next one. From each transitional point you can move to a different direction and have a different ending.  That indeed covers almost any possible position and direction you might fall or be brought into.

However, the ending goal is submission. That is being achieved due to tiring out of the opponent, or continuous baffling of the opponent to the point he did not manage to react quick enough.  If that does not work, they will resort to applying impact on soft pressure point and then use Jujitsu for desert. 

In Pure Krav Maga the objective is to teach escapes to natural positions that an opponent may attempt to bring you into after a throw or attempt to hold you that way.

Escapes however, are directed just for that moment of the initial hold. If you took a fall, you could be delayed in your reaction and the attacker could do something else. In that case your Pure Krav Maga will not help, but so would the other BJJ techniques will not help.

If your mind and body are preoccupied with taking an impact from a kick or a blow or from the ground in a bad angle, you will lose few split seconds of reaction time that can be used against you. Still reaching for soft pressure points or a quick blow is much faster than changing the whole body positions even moving from safe one transitional point to another.

Some trainers have figured out that while boxing has the best training methods for the sport that allows protected punching alone, some of its tactics could not fit combining punching with kicking.

At the same time some trainers realized that poking a soft pressure point before attempting to execute a grappling restraining technique works better and it is always a last resort must.

Sports had always been evolved. At the same time the general rule was train harder but don't think harder. The proof is in the pudding we all agree to that, but now the question is do we have enough proof that sports martial arts are good as self defense training methods?

No one can beat the current boxing champion in boxing nor the current wrestling champion in wrestling. If they mix they need to know their enemy. If they fear a violent attack they need to know their enemy and they need to train accordingly.

Criminals, street survivalist attackers use the element of surprise and natural fear without having much to lose and without care and respect for other people. It is a totally different ball game. You do not need to be a weight lifting champion, nor a boxing champion to know you can be surprised and lose your life in an instant.

You can have great reaction and be in great shape. It can help you to escape many dangers, and absorb many hits. But all it takes is one bad hit in the wrong time.

While a constant argument it is, friendly sparring among opposition is not going to cut it. First of all, self defense sparring has a different means and ends that fighting sports do.  To have these two different methods of sparring you will have to make adjustments. 

Let's assume an athlete of combat sports is also trained in sparring for self defense, will be able to finish a street confrontation faster.  It might also change his tactics a little in competitions.  But most of the times there is no relationships between self defense and competition.  Most trainers are not even aware of it. They think it is the same.  And even if they suspect its not exactly the same, they don't have time and motivation to train their students for it sufficiently.  Because of that, Self Defense was never sufficiently developed by a Martial Art or Fighting Sport School!

You have people from one school or another that get involved in public sparring. Some win and some lose on both ends!    That could be attributed for lack of sufficient training on both sides or lack of sufficient hardware. But then again, the idea of self defense and even fighting sports when it comes to open weight class is to utilize skills over physics. 

At the same time in these sparing the one that prioritized and did not limit himself off soft pressure points gained an advantage. Yet, you could not maximize that advantage because of fear to serious injuries.

Training in fighting sports does encourage combat fit however and sparring.  People that train in self defense normally do not have routine time for it or their school might not be serious enough for them to complete sufficient sparring which is basically attempt to execute the learned material against surprise attacks and continuous attacks, correction of errors and acquisition of fighting habits that become a second nature.

It is not about whoever is able to redirect the force for reversal of fortunes, but rather to stop an imminent threat of a blow while reaching a pressure point first, inflicting severe distraction through nerve pain. 

I do not think that whoever came up with the theoretical formula of an eye for a eye had in mind to shut up any theoretical arguments though.  Perhaps not according to biblical penal law, nor the average state criminal law, but rather for self defense.  

When you are defending yourself, once someone got physical control of your body, you just don't have time to ask for his intentions.  You cannot take the risk of being seriously injured, and you cannot afford letting him put you at risk by controlling you!  

Self defense is the breakeven point where you stop something from happening before it happens. How do you know if it was a real threat then?  You should be only able to tell by the intent and the willingness to put you in a helpless position!
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