Thursday, August 13, 2009

Making The Best of The Worst Case Scenario

I've seen a theme on internet sites featuring classical martial artists and reality-based martial artists that denigrate Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or groundfighting altogether. Most bring up some valid points:
-groundfighting on a hard surface is significantly different than doing so on a mat.
-groundfighting against multiple opponents (especially if some of them haven't hit the ground yet) is a lost cause.
-groundfighting strategies reduce mobility to unacceptable levels.
-in a real fight, reducing one's opponent and while remaining on one's feet is a winning fight strategy.

All of these are good points. And Lord knows, I've groused about the shortfalls of strictly BJJ or even MMA skills in a real fight. But--

-I don't plan on getting in a real fight. I've got pretty good people skills (okay, I've been well-trained in de-escalating a potentially violent situation, how's that?), a well-managed temper, and nothing to prove to anybody. So why would I ever get in a fight?
-If I do get into a fight, I definitely do not plan on being unarmed, whether I'm carrying a firearm, a knife, or any of a wide range of less-than-lethal tools that I own and with which I have extensive training.
-If the planets align for that once in a lifetime kismet induced situation where I do get into a fight and I am unarmed, I certainly do not plan to "go to the ground." I do plan on 50% of the participants in the fight going to the ground (ballistically), but not me.

So, if all of that has gone wrong, and I'm in a fight mano a mano (heaven forfend), why would I assume that I'm not going end up on the ground?
A lot went wrong if I'm in a fight.
A lot went wrong if I'm unarmed.
A lot went wrong if I'm on the ground.
At that point, how important is it that I can acquit myself well?
"Ah," says the gimlet-eyed skeptic,"but you have created a slippery slope coursing down which one can rack up all kinds of training requirements, and at the end of the day you don't have enough time to train every skill you'll need to defend yourself through the gamut of worst-case scenarios."
This is true. But I don't need as much time on the rifle and pistol ranges to build proficiency as I do on the mats. Bullets are wonderful things, and there's no training to "counter" a bullet. The first rule I learned for knife-fighting was KISS; again less training time required. Striking and throwing skills are more training/technique intensive, so yes, I dedicate the appropriate percentage of training time to them.
The survivability training paradigm I'm trying to articulate is: firearms, a couple of hours per month (I know, it should be more, and has to be for real pistolero status, but I'm talking survival, here). Blades (and kinetic/ballistic non-lethals), a couple of hours per week. Unarmed, a couple of hours per day (of which groundfighting is a significant percentage).
Thing is, while I spend more time on the unarmed (least likely/desireable) scenario, it is my considered opinion that a significant portion of the efficacy of those hours translates up, and helps with the other skill sets.
For example, shooting: proper breathing is of paramount importance--make that "proper breathing under extreme duress" is of paramount importance. I can guarantee that regular, quality groundfight training will improve the breath-control dimension of one's shooting game. Knife fighting: kinesthetic awareness is extremely important; you have to know--without necessarily being able to see--what your opponent is doing at his extremities, and what he is capable of doing given the relationship of his body to yours. Striking and throwing: same deal, plus one has to remember that economy of force and economy of effort is key if the fight is going to last more than 17 seconds (remember, you started your day believing there was no way you'd get in a fight, period). Pepper spray: okay, I'd have to think for a while to come up with a crosswalk from jiujits to pepper spray, but you get the picture.


  1. The fact that im drinking beer and eating ramen noodles on a friday night has nothing to do with me forwarding this post to everyone I know. Mister you are the sleeping giant. Beer good hurry the hell up.

  2. RC, I'd bust on you for your amazing FRI night social agenda, but mine is nothing to crow about, either.