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Of Poses, and Posing Well…

Anyone can fight.

But not all fight well. It is about successfully accomplishing your goal while reducing risk on your person.  So what’s the point I’m trying to make?  I’m going to paraphrase a line from Gavin de Becker’s  book, “the Gift of Fear.”  It’s a great book and an eye-opener and one of the first books that influenced my way of thinking about fighting and self-defense.  To me, fighting is about “high-stakes decision making under complete stress.”

Fighting is a messy deal. It can happen at the worst of times when you are least prepared physically or mental.  Fighting is a non-cooperative activity where the other participant seeks to do you bodily harm.  So to me, fighting smart is about increasing your chances of success in a fight and reducing the amount of risk involved fighting, not just getting the job done. What could be more important to you at that time than protecting your life and the lives you fight for?

I find that all of arguments about which martial art is more applicable in a realistic scenario or which system is more effective to be moot and pointless. Why? Because, there are many kinds of “fighting.”  Prize-fighting, street fighting, self-defense, wars to name a few All of them have one thing in common- a goal. So it makes sense to take actions that support this goal especially since many things are different in each scenario. So to clarify this, let’s outline some criteria to determine what “fighting well” means.  This way, we can evaluate and validate our training, regardless of the art we practice.  This is by no means going to be complete as each art or style will have their own criteria specific to their needs, but it’s certainly a good place to start.

fighting smart is about increasing your chances of success in a fight and reducing the amount of risk involved fighting

HITTING AND NOT GETTING HIT
Who doesn’t hate double-kills in sparring?  It’s either you were too slow or the opponent was too fast.  Either way, it is energy wasted, time wasted and you have to once again to re-evaluate and re-engage your opponent. This is energy that wouldn’t have been wasted had you been successful.  So put some effort into NOT GETTING HIT.  This means not taking too much or any damage as you fight. In weapons fighting in general, it not a good idea to be trading hits but is something taken for granted with protective gear. To that point, there is still value in the old way of training without all the protective gear.  Simply, you learned once and very quickly that getting hit is not nice at all. This can be further expounded by range or distance. Are you able to stay out of his reach and within yours?  If your opponent is too fast to attack outright, can you take the hits on your defense before you attack. There are many other options better than just trying to bash your opponent faster, harder or more times than he can bash you.  You need to consider that every attack has a cost, and that sometimes the cost can be heavy.

GET A BETTER POSITION 
A one-on-one fight is usually assumed to be “up-front” and “face to face”.  The tricky part of this is that all of your opponents weapons are facing you (arms, legs, elbows, knees, head).  Coming in at an angle to reduce the number of weapons he can use on you can significantly increase your chances of success and simultaneously  reduce the amount of risk.

REDUCE HIS ABILITY TO HIT YOU
Throw a wet blanket over him I say.  If you don’st happen to have that wet blanket on you, reduce his ability to hit you by reducing his ability to move his arms and legs, by putting him off balance, or by forcing him to go on the defensive.

HAVE A FINISHING STRIKE
Tapping your opponent doesn’t really work much.  I will probably serve to annoy or anger him more.  Have a strike, punch, throw, kick etc. that has the potential to knock out your opponent. This needs to be something devastating enough to knock your opponent out and finish the fight.  The premise of this is that, if he is too preoccupied with trying to recover, he is NOT Fighting you.

HAVE AN EXIT STRATEGY
Knowing how to make an exit in the midst of combat is a useful skill especially if you start to get overwhelmed even if it means going through your opponent to make an exit. Having an exit strategy is very important especially if your goal is saving your life. Prolonged or extended contact exposes you to more risk and danger.

With criteria like these you can evaluate and validate your training methodology and see if you are meeting your success criteria. Tools like this can help tweak your training experience and add value to your understanding.

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