Freudian slip

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve returned to martial arts after a ten year hiatus.  I wasn’t good then, and I’m worse now (and definitely more rickety), but oh! how I love it.

One of the things I’m learning at this dojo, which I didn’t learn in my last go round at martial arts (since it was very pure Karate), is basic, fairly brutal self-defense.  One of the techniques is called “I don’t want to fight.”  To do this technique, you stand in front of your opponent who, presumably, has gotten aggressively right into your face.  Your hands are up in the air in a gesture of surrender.  You say, “I don’t want,” at which point you grab the back of his head.  Then, at the same time that you say “to fight,” you swing your elbow at his face, followed by two groin kicks with your knee.

The gals in my class and I have had a hard time with this one.  Even for practice, we don’t like getting into each other’s space, and keep trying to do this from arm’s length — which doesn’t work.  The coordination is also difficult, with one quickly going from grab, to elbow punch, to knee kicks.  We all realized, though, that I had an even more fundamental problem than coordination and “space” when I practiced the technique with the nice nice lady who was my partner.

It started off well enough when I said “I don’t want” and grabbed her head.  It fell apart when, totally without realizing it, instead of next saying “to fight” and hitting her with an elbow strike, I said, instead, “to hurt you,” and complete missed my next hit.

I sincerely hope that, if I ever do find myself in a dangerous situation, I do want to hurt the person!

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  • Danny Lemieux

    Hmmm…you might want to check-out another school. Groin kicks are notoriously difficult to do successfully against which men have a natural protective reflex. There are much more effective techniques that a good school should be able to teach. (I’m a 3rd Dan senior instructor, by the way).

  • Bookworm

    Wow, Dan! I love martial arts and you’ve just impressed me a lot. As for the groin kicks, they’re not an opening in these techniques. They’re an additional disabling tactic after the guy is already dealing with his broken jaw or nose. They’re also a way to get people on the ground, because this is Brazilian jujitsu, which is a lot of ground fighting. I’m 5 ft tall, medium/light weight, and have moderate joint problems, so my likelihood of success is minimal anyway.

    As you’ve probably gathered, though, these are pretty darn hypothetical exercises for a lot of fairly gentle Marin moms who don’t want to hurt anybody. 😀

  • Earl

    Well, if self defense is anything like lifesaving, or CPR…..the key is practice, practice, practice, so when/if the time for it comes, you’re on automatic. If you have to spend time thinking about what to do and how, someone may die….could be the person you might have saved, or it could be you.

  • aritai

    Yes, I’ve seen this in other settings w/ ladies in the services. Y’all are far too nice.

    You should start with (and perhaps use only) a dummy if you can’t psych yourself up to not see yourself in the other person. Adrenaline will overcome your hesitation in a crisis (though if you are first clubbed without warning that will supress the adrenaline, as you try to get your bearings and over the thought of “this can’t be happening”).

    Work with a dummy until you have the moves down cold. If not handy, overstuff a duffle bag with a bean-bag chair, hang by a rope, draw a face and a crotch w/ chalk (use male proportions and heights) and practice until the moves come automatically, almost reflex. Consider having a boombox or your computer play a scene from a bad gangster movie after a random delay (at a frightning volume) as the signal to begin.

    Testosterone seems to wire males a bit differently (becomes a game, a test of strength).

    If getting in someone’s face is still a bridge too far, consider taking up target shooting as a hobby and get a concealed carry permit and a purse with a hidden holster. I’ve taught some of my nieces proper weapons heandling and find they manage a compensated glock26 w/ few problems (small weapon for small hands). And it’s been easier for them to get used to the noise than get in someone’s space.

  • SGT Dave

    Just a quick alternate to the groin is raising the knee (which makes your target cover) then bringing the heel down on the inside of the ankle joint. Note that his covering means the feet will be flat and the legs tensed, allowing you to break or sprain the ankle with lateral force fairly easily. Please note, I prefer “gun-fu” but used to teach kendo and have aquired a lot of dirty infighting tricks from friends in the SOF and USMC community.
    SGT Dave – “Fair means my people come home.”

  • Ymarsakar

    I’ve went berserk before in fights. Usually it requires either psyching yourself up with adrenaline and aggression beforehand, or taking enough hits that the pain activates your endorphine and adrenaline hormone production. Norse and German warriors back in ancient times, say Roman Republic and interrgenum Dark Age times, used drugs such as hallucinogenic mushrooms or other weird stuff to psyche themselves up. But that’s only because they weren’t feeling any pain at the time.

    This is nothing anyone should, even if they could, use in a fight in which they must kill or maim or disable the enemy in order to live unmolested, Book. Because it takes too long.

    However, this is something that most martial arts or self-defense classes don’t mention. Which is if your enemy is in a berserk state, nothing you do to him will make him feel pain. Even if you rupture his testicles, which is NOT just a kick or knee strike to the groin area, he can still function, even though his spinal reflex will kick in and give you that automatic protection posture. It won’t last long though.

    The counter, meaning the most effective means of destroying a berserk person, is to inflict injury on him. And usually it is a him, although not always as we can see in Britain. Injury is an objective damage you have inflicted. A broken knee, a broken ankle, a torn ligament and tendon in the shoulders and wrists. Those are objective, Book, meaning it doesn’t matter how psyched up with drugs, morphine, endorphines, or adrenaline I am, I won’t be able to put weight on a broken knee, leg, or ankle. I’ve actually torn many of the tendons and ligaments in my right ankle before when I jumped down on it, with at least half of my body weight. And while endorphines was able to keep most of the pain away, I still couldn’t use it as well as I could before. That’s an objective injury, Book. There’s nothing you can do about it. There’s no will, no intent, no media propaganda that will make it otherwise. Just as propaganda can’t reattach your head to your body, regardless of what folks might wish. An objective injury is an injury, and nobody can dispute that, even though they might try. Well the South Vietnamese tried very very hard, Book, to stave off defeat, but without the logistics and resources of the United States, they were already defeated. And there was nothing they could do, no matter how hard they tried, that could defeat a North Vietnamese Army trained and supplied by Russia and maybe even China.

    Self-defense classes try to give you confidence that you can disable an attacker with these techniques that are complex and violates the KISS principle in military warfare and training. The complex stuff neither works in war nor in personal battles over life and limb. It takes you too long to “activate” it when you need it, that’s the problem. Even for martial artists that have trained long and hard to condition their muscles to respond fast and well to stimuli, they can only do that against situations in which they have trained. And what do most martial artists, in fact all martial artists, train in, Book?

    They train in competitive sports or 1 on 1 dojo matches or sparings, but they don’t train in the kind of no rules street fighting that a criminal will use on them. Is a criminal going to put up his dukes, get into a horse or cat stance, and prepare himself to “take you down”? No, a criminal is going to get up to you, pull out a gun, and try to stab or shoot you. Most criminals want money or to make you do what they tell you to do, and they are just using their weapons as an intimidation tool, but you can’t count on that. If you assume that is true and you train for it, then what happens when it isn’t true? You freeze and then you are dead.

    So how do you actually train for street conditions if, without rules, you will end up seriously hurting your partner and maiming them if you were to use on the mat what you were going to use on the streets, Book? It’s simple, but not easy. Combine the SCARs system US Special Forces train in with a team of instructors focused on solving this problem, and you get Tim Larkin’s system.

    All your body needs to know is the muscle memory. But muscle memory does not really care whether you really scoop out someone’s eyes or not. All it cares about is that your brain sends the right signal to your arm and fingers, and that your body does the same thing you tell it to do on the mat out on the streets. This is not as easy as it might seem, since your body needs the exact same, or almost exact same, visual and skin feeling that you would otherwise get in the streets.

    The problem with using dummies is that actual people you fight aren’t constructed dummies. they don’t just stand there and take your hits. Nor are real people connected to robes and react as if they are swinging on a rope if you hit them. So when you go up to hit someone in real life, and you connect, and he suddenly flies to your left, what is your brain going to be thinking? Your brain is going to be thinking “I didn’t see this in training”. Instead of thinking what you should be thinking, which is “I saw this in training and my next move is going to be X”.

    This is why armies get mangled coming up against professional troops and veterans. While each individual, officer, and unit of the green army is trying to figure out the chaos and confusion of war, the professionals know what they have to and are going to get to it. If you get bad training, then you may not only be outnumbered physically but you can far slower in your brain as well than the other guy. A criminal has one thing in mind, which is hurting you and thus getting what he wants. If you are thinking up a million things and worrying about family, life, how small you are, and whatever, then your brain is going to be much slower than his. Even assuming your body can react faster.

    It started off well enough when I said “I don’t want” and grabbed her head. It fell apart when, totally without realizing it, instead of next saying “to fight” and hitting her with an elbow strike, I said, instead, “to hurt you,” and complete missed my next hit.

    That is happening because you have a conscience, Book. You are not a monster. You are not someone who takes a kitchen knife from your home, go out into the neighborhood, and stab whomever you see or feel like stabbing. You are social, you are part of society, and thus you obey the laws of society that says you shouldn’t be killing people just because you feel like it.

    However, if you were at home and a murderer came in trying to kidnap and rape your children, and you pull out a kitchen knife and stab the invader to death, then you’re a hero. You have practiced self-defense. Yet what you did would exactly have been the same act of violence as a sociopath going out into the town to stab people with a kitchen knife.

    Violence is simply a tool, and whoever wins in a life and death struggle, personal or war, will be the one that uses violence the best, the fastest, and the most efficient.

    You didn’t want to hurt your partner because… you didn’t want to hurt your partner. That won’t be the case when you know, absolutely know, that your life is in endanger. All murderers, rapists, and sociopath mass murderers and serial killers like 9/11 hijackers and Osama Bin Laden and Chavez and Che Guevarra of Castro’s execution squads were and are asocial criminals. You can actually get social criminals, that use knives or guns to intimidate but have no intention of hurting or killing you. But those are rare and I wouldn’t bet my life on another person’s intentions being peaceful.

    There are actually a couple of things that are very important due to your quoted part. One thing, self-defense classes that try to train you to hurt or hit your partner, and thus you are only bringing your knee/elbow up to your partner’s head and STOPPING, is completely useless to you, Book.

    You’re not going to be bringing your knee up to someone’s face and then stopping, in a real violent encounter, Book, so why are you training your body to react that way via numerous repetitions?

    The thing is, unless your partner reacts as an assailant would, and you do your knee strike very slowly, you won’t be able to avoid injuring your partner. So the only way to train for real life is to go slow and to have your partner mimic the exact reactions as if he or she had been hit full force by your strike to the knee/face. I have no idea of whether you training accounts for this or not, but it is something you should keep in mind. You’re not going to stop your body when it contacts the enemy. You are going to push your entire body weight, with the point of impact being your chosen knee or elbow or other body part/portion, and going through the other guy, so that you occupy the space he once occupied. That requires that you not stop your strike short of going all the way through a target.

    Even for practice, we don’t like getting into each other’s space, and keep trying to do this from arm’s length — which doesn’t work.

    Most social folks don’t like to do that. It’s not as bad in Europe, but then again they dislike using violence even more than Americans. You can’t put your entire body weight into a person at arm’s reach. You need to be up closer.

    It is even more important if you are smaller, because throws and joint breaks work just as well as if you weigh 100 pounds as if you weighed 200. Getting closer allows you to take his center of gravity away from him, giving you an option to throw him, if that option comes up. If you are able to bounce his head off the concrete sidewalk, then usually it is game over for that person. Heavy concussion or high cervical break, depending on how he takes the fall and how much he weighs.

    That’s actually not a technique, it is just something in your tool box. If it comes up, use it. If it doesn’t, don’t waste time trying to use it. It is a much more efficient way of training your mind to react correctly than trying to memorize a whole bunch of techniques that may or may not be applicable when you are attacked.

    If somebody is on the ground, with his chest up, and he is stunned for 3-6 seconds, which action will you do, Book? Take that baseball bat and hit him on the head with it? Or drop your entire bodyweight unto his throat, crushing his trachea and air pipes, asphyxiating him?

    Which is one is the more lethal weapon? Baseball bat that can only apply the force of your arms and shoulders to a target or your body which weighs around 100 pounds?

    I’d choose to use my own body weight. Which makes things much simpler and easy to remember. Everybody remembers where his or her body was. Not everybody may remember where a knife or bat or gun is in a fight.

    Proper striking allows you to use your own body as a lethal weapon, so you don’t have to fear being bereft of weapons and trying to grab the weapon when you are getting hit yourself. This applies even when he has a weapon and you don’t

    But you can’t learn proper striking, Book, if you are training in a situation where you are afraid to hurt the other person. The solution is not to become a stone cold killer, Book, which wouldn’t be feasible anyways, but to go slow. Slow enough that both you and your partner know that neither one will get hurt. Proper training requires that you not hurt your partner. That is the same in martial arts sparring as well. The difference is that proper training is cooperative, not competitive. MOUT operations may be able to use blanks or laser finders to simulate bullets hitting folks, but it won’t be as good as real combat and it still requires the cooperation of the one being “hit” to act “dead”. Even though the overlying scenario may look “competitive”, it can only function because it is cooperative. Because both of you follow rules that says “don’t really kill the person”.

    Any problems with realism is corrected this way. Make sure you tire yourself out training, Book, since often you won’t be able to choose the time you will have to defend yourself or your loved ones. You may be tired and that knee or elbow strike that looked reall easy in practice and bright light, suddenly is not so easy in darkness and with you being very tired from work or sickness. That way, you make sure you are using your body weight when striking, not your muscle power.

    Second thing, make sure you look straight at the target you want to hit. And this can’t be just the ‘head’ in general, it has to be a specific spot. You have look straight at it and put your hand directly to it. This helps coordination, because it is the same as with catching a ball. Look at the ball. Don’t look around the ball.