Friday, October 14, 2005

The teaching moment

Crom hits a girl:

Regarding the Jolie v. Pitt matchup it's ridiculous to think that she would even stand a chance. I am a mid-level combat hapkido student and when I recently sparred a black-belt female it was a joke. She was more talented in her movements, but if I hadn't have pulled my punches I would have broken her. By the end of the three minutes she was not pulling anything, and I still was holding back.
She was furious at the end of the match, and said that in a tournament she would have been the victor. I replied that in a tournament, yes - but on the street she would have been stomped.

This is typical of the attitude of both women and men who are only trained to tournament fight. It bears no more resemblance to actual physical combat than modern fencing does to the armored brawls that characterized medieval combat.

There were no such point fighters at my dojo, as it was not only the most notoriously brutal fighting school in the Twin Cities but the only one to ever sweep all the first-places in a major tournament, from gold to black. However, on the few occasions I did run into a woman sporting this kind of attitude, I simply smashed right through her defenses and dropped her. Do this twice in a row and either they'll lose the attitude and ask what they can do to try and defend themselves - which is usually what happens - or else they'll pretend to be hurt and quit for the day.

Most martial arts schools do their students a real disservice by failing to allow them to spar properly. Techniques are great, but they're only one part of the equation. Speed, power, fitness and general toughness are all important elements of unarmed combat and they vary in importance depending on the specific opponent.

A wrestler will almost always beat a tae kwon do kicker, as will a boxer. But both boxers and wrestlers are very vulnerable to judo and akido moves, and nobody matches up well with kali fighters except the manics who do the real muey thai, not the watered-down American kickboxing version. There is no magical one set of techniques that can guarantee victory over anyone, it's simply a matter of increasing your probabilities of success given what you have to work with.

All the skill and technique in the world don't matter much if your opponent whacks you over the head from behind with a baseball bat, is so much stronger than you that your blocking limbs get broken or is so much faster that you don't even see the blows coming. Women who train but don't fight hard contact simply don't understand how great their speed and power deficiency is until it is demonstrated to them in a manner they cannot help but understand.

As my instructor said when he helped me up off the floor after completely failing to pull his punches: "You were getting careless, so I felt that it was a teaching moment."


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