From the Gracies:
Hat tip: The Political Commentator
From the Gracies:
Hat tip: The Political Commentator
Earlier this week, I did a post about the way a good fighter doesn’t just use mindless tactics but, instead, uses tactics that draw the enemy onto his own territory. I mean, it’s pretty obvious that you want a fight to be to your strengths, not to your enemy’s strengths. I illustrated that point with a Gracie Jiu jitsu video showing that a good ground fighter is going to win against other martial artists.
Since then, a friend who knows much more than I do on the subject of warfare pointed something out to me that both highlights a thinking mistake I made and perfectly illustrates my point. The Gracies’ tactics work well in a controlled environment: a smooth, possibly padded floor, and one opponent. Under those circumstances, if you can get your opponent to the ground, then you’ve got him in your territory.
In the real world, though (outside of a fight in the Romper Room Bar, complete with thick carpets on the floor and padded walls), fights take place in less hospitable surroundings. The ground beneath you may be strewn with broken glass, rocks, and other dangerous and/or unsavory items, and your opponent may have friends. Under those circumstances, if you hit the ground, you may be hurt, and you’ve limited your mobility. But why listen to me? Here’s a real fighter explaining:
Bottom line: I made the same mistake I was complaining about vis a vis our military: namely, thinking too linearly about my strengths, without considering the other party’s advantages and the ways in which I can counter those advantages. But while my facts were wrong, I think my logic is correct. You can’t just fight to your strength; you have to fight to your opponent’s weakness, or at least disable his advantages.
Incidentally, I have heard from reliable sources that our military has the ability to engage the enemy in an optimally constructive fashion, but that external limitations (politics, I assume, although I haven’t been told) prevent our forces from doing what needs to be done.
Those who watch Hollywood movies think that fist fights last a long time, involve almost numberless hits, and take place standing up. Those who have seen, or engaged in, real fights, know that, after a few punches, most fights quickly end up on the ground. At that moment, it’s the ground fighter who has the advantage. The problem for Hollywood is that watching two ground fighters is remarkably similar to, and just as thrilling as, watching dung beetles rolling around. And so, decades of misinformation are born….
Gracie Brazilian Jui Jitsu, which the Gracie family of Brazil started several generations ago, is a form of ground fighting that begins with techniques to get the opponent down on the ground. I’ve been amusing myself lately by watching videos in which the Gracies demonstrate how they defeat skilled martial artists from other disciplines by instantly bringing the fight to the ground, where the other martial artists have no tactics or defenses. Here’s an example:
Watching this type of stuff naturally gets me thinking about the asymmetrical warfare in which our own troops are currently engaged. (And I’m positive that Obama’s election-strategy withdrawals, rather than decreasing the risks to our troops will, over the long haul, increase the risks.) Petraeus’ COIN strategy worked because he examined, not only our own strengths, but the enemy’s weaknesses. It’s been almost ten years since then, and it does seem as if the powers that be in the American military are locked into a big gun strategy that doesn’t necessarily work against an agile fighting force that is unbound by big weapons warfare or traditional rules of engagement. Too often, our troops our stand-up fighters who are engaged in a ground fight.
Do you see a way to change that dynamic?
I’ve been thinking today about unmatched combatants and a combatant’s willingness to take hits in order to win a fight. I think about the former often because, when I do jujitsu, I am an unmatched combatant. I’m usually the only woman in the adult classes, which means that the people (i.e., men) with whom I’m rolling are 8 to 14 inches taller than I am, and outweigh me by 40 to 90 pounds.
Interestingly, these men, all of whom are nice, thoughtful people, are more scared of me than I am scared of them. When we face each other before rolling, I look them in the eye and say, “Remember to give only about 50%” and, with those words, some of them just collapse in front of me. They are so afraid that any move they do will hurt me that they do nothing at all. Instead, they just kind of lie there, which isn’t fun for me or for them. It’s only the strongest black belts who have sufficient control to give me a run for my money without hurting me. I optimistically assume that the black belts have some fun with this careful grappling, because they get to focus on skill, rather than strength.
I had the same experience of being an unmatched combatant back in the day when I used to play tag football. My specialty was sacking the quarterback. After the snap, I’d just charge him. (It was always a him.) Invariably, the quarterback in these informal games would react as if a mosquito was attacking him — he’d back off quickly. Had I been bigger, I know he would have gone forward, because he wouldn’t have worried about hurting me. As it was, seeing me buzz around, the guy’s instinct (and this was true for whichever guy was quarterback) was to retreat, not attack.
Interestingly, I’m also an unmatched combatant when I end up in a class with teenagers — boys or girls — who are much closer to me in weight and overall size. While the grown men are over-controlled, the teenagers are under-controlled, especially the girls. I’m strong, agile and reasonably skilled, but I also have the slowness and slight rigidity of someone several decades older than these teenagers. These kids don’t understand slow, their joints feel no pain, and they have cat-like flexibility. I’m much more frightened of a 110 pound 15-year old girl than I am of a 180 pound 40-year old man.
There’s actually a point to these ruminations about unmatched combatants. In the examples I’m giving, I am talking about sports combat. People want to win, but they want to have fun, and it’s no fun when you hurt your friends. Even the teenagers don’t want to hurt me. They just have a very limited understanding of what will hurt me.
Problems arise when foolish people (by which I mean Lefties) try to apply the rules of sportsmanship to war. War is not about winning for fun, it’s just about winning. The fact that a war may be asymmetrical doesn’t mean that the larger power has to handicap itself to give the other side a fair chance. Certainly, the winning side shouldn’t engage in sadistic massacres, but that’s not because sadism and overkill are unsportsmanlike. It’s because they are (a) an unnecessary waste of resources and (b) morally bad for the bigger army.
After adjusting for necessary force and moral decency, the bigger army should do whatever is necessary to win, and it should do so without regard to the other side’s weaknesses. When Lord Wellington reputedly said that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton, he wasn’t talking about fair play. He was talking about the brutal field sports public school students used to play, in which no quarter was asked or given.
Part of this willingness to do whatever it takes to win in true combat means a willingness to take the hit. One of my favorite mil bloggers, America’s 1st Sergeant, wrote a wonderful post about dealing with bullies, a necessary life lesson for him because his father’s military career meant that, as a boy, Am’s 1st Sgt, was repeatedly tested by the bullies at a series of new schools. He learned, very quickly, that you’re going to get hurt taking on the bullies, but you’ll get hurt worse if you immediately acquiesce. Bullies do not believe in sportsmanship. Or, if they do, the only sports that interest them are blood sports — with you being the one who bleeds.
What the Leftists conveniently ignore or forget is that it’s not size, but intention, that makes the bully. They believe that because America is the biggest force, it is the bullying-est force, and that it must yield to smaller forces in asymmetrical warfare. That Americans fight to win in a legitimate defensive war against a culture dedicated to world conquest, and do not fight simply to destroy, torture or convert, is a subtlety that eludes the Leftist elites, who root for the smaller, more brutal Al Qaeda or Taliban forces. At the same time, the Leftists cannot stomach the fact that our troops, recognizing the nature of a fight with a bully, are willing to engage, even if it means taking very painful hits, because that’s the only way to win.
Leftists are bullies, that goes without saying. But the American elite believe in a bloodless bullying that involves hectoring, embarrassing, humiliating and disempowering those who are ready, willing and able to take the real fight to the real enemy. It’s rather sad that the Leftists reserve their savagery for their first defenders, while demanding that these same defenders hew to completely irrelevant rules of sportsmanship that have no place on the field of battle.