Friday, July 31, 2009

Thug vs Warrior

The Urban Samurai asks whether MMA training is useless for street defense.
He makes some great points, and I agree with his overall assessment: an MMA fighter is better equipped to defend himself than someone who doesn't train at all, but MMA is definitely not the comprehensive solution to self defense. However, I think I came to that conclusion via a different route than the Samurai. I think he and I are at some variance as to our philosophical, technical and legal reasoning.
First, on the legal side, I think that there is something amiss in the UK right now. More and more, the courts are punishing individuals who defend themselves against violent criminals. One could even make the case that there is no inherent individual right to self defense in the UK right now (I know, I need to round up some links to back up this supposition. Later).
Here in the US, I'm thinking that you can reasonably expect to escape criminal sanction (although maybe not civil) if you can demonstrate under the "reasonable man" doctrine that you acted to negate the threat against yourself. So, unless your caught curb-stomping an unconscious assailant, you shouldn't be rolled up by the law. I'm not a big fan of martial artists who only aim to subdue or "control" an assailant, because I think they are underestimating both the danger, the consequences of screwing up, and the skill level required to only subdue a fully adrenalized, motivated attacker without injuring him. It can be done, but would you risk your life to spare your assailant a couple weeks/months in traction?
The problem with bringing MMA skills into a self defense situation is that the mixed martial artist is trained to fight. Your attacker isn't looking for a fight, he's looking for predation. So, as the US points out, your attacker isn't going to constrain himself to the "rules," pattern, or tempo of the fight an MMA guy has trained for. He's going to try to neutralize you as directly as possible. If a predator decides to target you, reduce his ability to do so by every means available. In most states, the use of lethal force is legal if it is employed to avoid grevious bodily harm.
Here are some more shortcomings of bringing your MMA game to a fight:
-As US points out, the environment will be different. Look at the significant difference in fighters' tactics and techniques between Pride and UFC, simply because one fight takes place in a ring, and one in a cage. To an extent, MMA fighters train and compete, over and over again, in order to perfect the same fight. Same cage, same matted flooring, same gloves, mouthpiece, rules and fight duration (excepting KOs).
-I've bitched here about gloves before; I'll do so again. The purpose of gloves in MMA is to protect the slugger, not the sluggee. The crowds love a good knockout, and the gloves allow a professional fighter to swing for the fences without endangering his livelihood. Swing for the fences like that barefisted, significantly amplifying your power through the hips and shoulders, and when you make contact with that punch you will reduce your punching capability by 50%, because you just broke your hand. That treasure trove of combative knowledge, FM 3.25-150 states that
The boxer is a better puncher than the traditional martial artist not because of the mechanics of punching, but because his technique has been refined through competition. (App B, Para 1)

Um, no. The boxer is a better puncher with gloves on than the traditional martial artist. After a barefisted fight, he'll have earned the appellation "Cast Boy."
-Fight Fashion: how wrong have things gone if you're in a no-shit fight with a sweaty guy wearing a spandex bikini? The ordinary street clothes that an attacker (and hopefully you) will be wearing make a distinct difference. Both participants have a wider range of fight options on a fully clothed opponent.
-Improvised Weapons: Original Japanese Jujutsu was developed to give a samurai who'd lost his sword the ability to survive on the battlefield until he could procure another weapon. If you are attacked when you are (for whatever insane reason) unarmed*, the odds are good that you will grab the first field expedient weapon to hand.
-Asphalt, gravel, and tarmac sort of change up the dynamic of groundfighting and "ground and pound."
-Targeting: an MMA fighter is, sure, defending himself as completely as possible. But his "muscle memory" doesn't encompass eyes, balls, kidneys, throat/larynx. Stick a thumb in the eye of the guy with even the best fight composure, and you'll generate an effect. Get kicked in the balls enough, and lo, you can learn to ride it out, but has a MMA guy been kicked in the balls enough? (I'm in the Army, so the institution takes care of that training requirement).
On the philosophical side, if someone is willing to attack me, then they are willing to kill me, even though that may be inadvertant. So, I'm fighting for my life and will use the most powerful response I can. Also, I will not try to reply with an unarmed version of escalation of force; there isn't time and my opponent faces no such restrictions. I am sure that some of the lessons I've learned in my MMA adventures will come in handy, but I definitely would not opt to rely on MMA as my sole source of skill sets.

*Yuh, looks like I've got to re-test the BATTLEMIND training.

No comments:

Post a Comment