Friday, August 12, 2011

The Nature of Violence - Bad Habits

This is really one small part of a larger area of concern for me, one that I hope to flesh out in upcoming posts.

As martial artists, we have some bad habits.  A biggie is that we very rarely practice any technique from an inferior position, one where we're off balanced, have received a surprise attack or some sort of a shock.  Sure we practice a grab from behind, or a bear hug, but we still kind of know what's coming.  And our opponent very rarely really tries to knock us down or bowl us over.

I read some of Rory Miller's work and he made a simple but important point.

He said "Fights are painful, unfair, dynamic, chaotic, cluttered, and you don't get into them, as a good guy, unless you start out losing."

I agree with Mr. Miller on the whole statement, but the last part is very important. "Unless you start out losing."

In all your experience, how many times are you aware of someone being attacked in a face to face encounter?  The criminal element almost always initiates an attack using the element of surprise.  This is why it's important to work on awareness skills just as much as raw technique.  Criminals very rarely target martial artists (or anyone else) who are paying attention. 

So, how much time are you spending on defending from a losing position?  The reality of the situation is that if you get in a real fight, the initial flurry of attacks will have caught you off guard.  If you were aware of your surroundings, chances are you wouldn't have been attacked in the first place.

We have a bad habit, as martial artists, of sort of skipping over this reality in favour of fantasy-land thinking that we'll always be aware of our surroundings so we'll just drill what we're used to doing, a face to face anticipated attack.  That is not reality.  In real life violent encounters, you've already been hit, knocked off balance, or had a weapon used on you.  Your attacker may be one or many.  

We need to train for that reality.  We need to mentally prepare for the ugly, upsetting, painful, disorienting nature of a real attack.  We need to learn to fight back from that position, and get away.  No easy task, but definitely something we need to think about.

Food for thought.

Train realistically, and safely.


  1. Definitely food for thought. Another thing I need to put on my list of things to ponder! Thanks for drawing this important point to our attention.

  2. I agree, until you get into higher level stuff. I find I work the puzzles from harder places and worse angles the better I get.

  3. Sue,

    Happy my post was ponder-worthy.

    Sensei Strange,

    Very true. I still think you need to learn the basics in a way that you can digest them. I have no problem with some face to face, linear type training. My issue tends to be with those that never move beyond that method. It's dangerous, and kind of boring, in the long run.

    I love seeing how certain techniques work, or don't work, from different angels, positions and attacks. It's part of the fun, and the journey.

  4. Another great post! Thank you for writing and sharing your insights.

  5. My pleasure. I'm happy you get something from them.