Every art, every style, and every teacher looks at fighting and combat in somewhat different ways. There are subtle, or sometimes not so subtle, differences in approach, technique and range. Each has strengths and weaknesses and I always enjoy learning about the reasons behind these approaches.
What I have learned is that many of these concepts are tough to argue with, they make so much sense that to argue would almost be silly...providing you know you are in a fight.
A whole bunch of years ago I had a conversation with a Tae Kwon Do black belt. This person was tough, fast and good. That is not the point of this post.
One of the things this black belt was telling me about was his theory on combat range. He held his hands out in a circle in front of him, showing an imaginary zone or area that no opponent could get to. His theory, and it had some merit, was that in combat, he would destroy anything that entered this 'personal zone'. In playful sparring, he demonstrated this quite effectively, striking any part of my body that came close to him. He was also big on kicks, since the legs are longer and stronger than other body parts.
I couldn't, and still can't, fault his logic completely. His ideas were sound, providing you know you are in a fight.
Now, many years later, I'm reminded of this conversation. Interestingly, the chat started when we were in a busy bar. Looking back, I find it somewhat humorous that many of the people around us at the time were within this 'personal zone'.
Some arts practice a lot of in-close techniques, mine included. We have many defenses and responses to grabs, chokes, pushes, punches etc. Lots start from the position of another person having grabbed you or grabbing for you. I would love to think that one day I could keep any opponent from getting that close.
Reality suggests this isn't always possible, even when you are paying attention to your surroundings. Look around you and your day to day activities. How often are you standing in a line, on public transit, in a bar, a movie theater, a store of any kind etc? Modern life tends to pack us together.
If you train in the martial arts with a reality based mindset, it's important to train for the most likely type of attack. I love the theory that my black belt friend talked about but feel it may be unrealistic to respond to an unprovoked or unanticipated attack. Once you know you are in a fight and have enough space to move then yes, he's right. Is that the way most attacks occur? Absolutely not. It sure looked good on paper, though.
We can't prepare for every eventuality, but we must make sure we train realistically and focus on the most likely type of conflict we might encounter.