Sunday, April 29, 2007

Down 'n Dirty



Let's face it: A fight is a fight. There are no rules and things can and do get ugly. The aesthetic grace of kata is nowhere to be found in a real knockdown and dragout fight. At one time, kicking a guy south of the border or grabbing and breaking his fingers were considered taboo. Real men just didn't fight that way. Today, with the advent of reality fighting and DVD/video courses with catchy titles like Filthy Jailhouse Fighting Secrets and Fighting Dirty, all bets are off. Face rakes, eye gouges and even biting (not recommended given the current status of STDs and other social diseases) are now being taught in self defense programs. Times have changed, and change isn't necessarily good.

The idea of administering these nasty maneuvers is to inflict maximum pain as quickly as possible. While it could be argued that this is already the philosophy behind the martial arts, many of the techniques that are currently presented have been watered down through the years to the point of being rendered ineffective or impractical. Certain bunkai (traditional self defense applications) are either misunderstood in some schools, or require too much finesse or fine motor skills to pull off when the heat is on.

A cop I knew from New York who trained in daito ryu jiu-jitsu would tell stories of drug induced psychotic episodes that would erupt in violent types he was attempting to pick up on outstanding warrants (his specialty). He explained that some waza just weren't enough to subdue these lunatics who seemed impervious to even the most painful joint locks, courtesy of being loaded on crank (methamphetamine), angel dust (PCP), or whatever else they had in their systems. Resisting arrest against a 7th degree black belt is not wise, as it usually leads to some serious damage. Years ago, a drunkard tried to attack me outside my father's restaurant because I refused to let him in. I walloped him good and he took off, only to return a few minutes later to try his luck at kicking in the storefront glass. Apparently, I didn't leave a lasting impression upon him. This time I was able to fend him off with a piece of molding (don't ask) which probably looked far more lethal than it really was. Later, an instructor/bouncer from another Isshinryu school told me I was lucky the guy didn't have a weapon. "Some guys are just used to taking heavy shots to the head. And when they're drunk, forget about it." I couldn't if I tried.

Women especially need to realize the effectiveness of utilizing atemi - strikes delivered to pressure points or vital areas. Eyes, throat, groin and knees are the targets of opportunity when negotiations fail. How you train is how it happens, so training for this as realistically as possible is imperative if you want to make these techniques work. And making them work can mean the difference between life and death.

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12 Comments:

Blogger [Mat] said...

Pressure/vital points are something that can end a fight right from the beginning.

I come from a family of 5 brothers. Me being the youngest, I quickly learned the value of the "south of the border" point. When you're 4'3'' and the older one about 6'2'', it helps to end things quickly. Hey, I was thrown into MMA at an early age!

When doing bunkai with my gf (she sometimes train with me) I always tell her, from here, how do you get to the ballZ? To the eyes? Can you bite me? (OUCH)

But even the ballzzezz aren't always effective. My bigger brother was often drunk or drugged. Once, I remember that he got into a fight and received blows that would have crippled any man. Yet, he didn't show any sign of pain. While in "that" state, he fell down on a metal bar and opened his cranium box severely. No sign on pain whatsoever.

Drugs make people crazy. In all sense of the sentence.

8:48 AM  
Blogger Charles James said...

Hi, John

Good post...I feel the best self-defense in any situation is the use of vital point strikes to the groin, eyes, throat, neck, under armpit, and fingertips.

Focus on these main points and practice practice practice...this may not totally take out a drugie yet if done right it should regardless...

Standard bunkai is just fine, if you do the basic kind vs tuite stuff, etc, in most situations yet for the sake of self-safety and so on stick to the vital points and use bunkai in kumite practice.

9:50 AM  
Blogger PerpetualBeginner said...

My first sensei was fond of "chassis" shots when the opponent was drugged or drunk. Knees or hips were his first choice. As he put it. "It doesn't matter if they're feeling pain or not. If there's no joint to run on, they're not moving." Under all other circumstances, he was noted as a pressure-point fighter with a particular fondness for necks.

5:27 PM  
Blogger John Vesia said...

Mat:

Ballzzezz? That must be French. I learn something new all the time from my readers!
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Mr. James:

Tuite is tricky for most people I think. The armpit as a target is very effective. I forgot about that one.
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Perpetual Beginner:

"Chassis" shots. lol!

"It doesn't matter if they're feeling pain or not. If there's no joint to run on, they're not moving."

I hear that. Good point.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Windsornot said...

Women especially need to realize the effectiveness of utilizing atemi - strikes delivered to pressure points or vital areas....How you train is how it happens, so training for this as realistically as possible is imperative if you want to make these techniques work. And making them work can mean the difference between life and death.

I couldn't agree more. I know that I've taken both ground fighting seminars and a self defense seminar from my instructors. I think the biggest thing that they emphasized, especially my head instructor (who is a woman herself), is that it's not only hitting the right pressure/vital points, but the element of surprise is imperative as well. They teach certain basic self-defense techniques to small children as well, that can translate for an adult, and it boils down to the idea that it's not having the strength, but the element of surprise that will undo someone trying to cause harm.

6:18 PM  
Blogger John Vesia said...

Windsornot:

Women make sneaky opponents. The element of surprise being that nobody really expects a woman to fight back in the first place. In almost all self-defense courses (especially for women) psychology, reading body language/intent and other preventative measures are considered. Most women I've spoken to cringe at the idea of grappling or groundwork (as opposed to striking), but unfortunately that's where it ends up most of the time.

10:28 AM  
Blogger MrX said...

In case of drug or alcohol induced opponents, sequences are a must.
Don't just throw a kick "south of the border" hoping the guy will drop because it may only sting him a bit. But this gives you the element of surprise you need to follow up with strikes to the throat, a sweep or a good old kick in the knee. If he can't walk, he can 't catch you anymore.
An instructor of mine once told me that if you're not done in 10 seconds, you're in big trouble.

Marc

6:55 AM  
Blogger John Vesia said...

Mr.X

...sequences are a must.

I agree. The "one strike, one kill" thing comes from weaponry. Obviously a reverse punch isn't a halberd or a broadsword. But you still have to throw (and train) with the intention that one shot may be all you have, and quite often that's the case.

...if you're not done in 10 seconds, you're in big trouble.

Have you ever seen the John Wayne classic The Quite Man? There's a fight scene between The Duke and another actor (Victor McLaglen?) that takes about 30 minutes! I think it's the longest fight scene in cinematic history.

If you hit a guy with the right combination, the whole thing should be over in about three seconds.

11:44 PM  
Blogger Miss Chris said...

So many of our self defense techniques were impractical. They had WAY to many moves in them. I always used to ask "Why not just stop after the first 3. You can disable them with just that?" I was never given a clear answer on that. If I can gouge an eye and kick em in the nuts...I'm going to do just that, and not a technique with multiple moves.

7:23 PM  
Blogger John Vesia said...

Hi Miss Chris:

So many of our self defense techniques were impractical.

Many are. That's been my experience too.

If I can gouge an eye and kick em in the nuts...I'm going to do just that...

lol!! Right on! Spoken like a true martial artist! You're priceless Miss Chris, thanks again for making my day!

10:57 PM  
Blogger supergroup7 said...

I find it difficult to practice Vital point strikes such as to the eyes, groin, etc. It's not like you can actually follow through when you are working with a partner. The strike HAS to stop before the target, or you won't have too many people asking to be your partner.

8:13 AM  
Blogger John Vesia said...

Mireille:

The strike HAS to stop before the target, or you won't have too many people asking to be your partner.

What?? Now you tell me. I knew I was doing something wrong! This explains why I stopped getting invited to parties. I learn something new everyday on this blog.

10:16 AM  

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