Anatomy of a Trained Street Fighter

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Discussion' started by patrick_eudy, Sep 28, 2004.

  1. patrick_eudy

    patrick_eudy New Member

    By Patrick Eudy

    I’ve understood for years that the flashy side of martial arts is not what street fighting is all about. It’s easy to see that fancy kicks and complex techniques are just not practical in a combat situation. Is it possible to knock someone out with a spinning kick to the head? Yes, it’s possible. But even with tons of practice, techniques like that don’t offer a high probability of success against an angry person who wants to do you harm. The techniques which make up the backbone of your training should be those most likely to succeed on the street.

    This thought process forces me to constantly evaluate what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and where I’m going. I know where I want to go. I want to be a skilled and competent martial artist. But what does that mean? Most importantly, what does that mean to me?

    I believe a skilled martial artist will defend himself on the street in much the same manner as he would defend himself instinctively if he never had a day of training. There is no reason why the techniques used by a trained fighter need to be very different from instinctive combat methods. Of course, techniques will be refined with training. But what separates a trained fighter from the “average Joe” is not the number of techniques he can perform. The trained fighter is different because when he employs his instinctive fighting method, he does so with control, strategy, and composure.

    I think it’s important not to venture too far from your instinctive methods. If your self-defense comes naturally, it’s more likely to flow freely under the stress of combat. Since you will be inclined to revert to what comes naturally in a fight, why not focus your training on tweaking what feels natural instead of devising a whole new way of defending yourself?

    For example, before I ever received any training I felt the best thing to do in a standing fighting situation was to attack with multiple hard punches – preferably to the face, and preferably without warning. If a fight should go to the ground, I believed it was best if I could straddle my opponent so I could restrict his movement and fight with gravity in my favor.

    Now that I’ve had some training and I’ve experienced heavier contact, I’ve realized my gut feelings about standup fighting were correct, at least for me. And the best ground fighters in the world strive to attain the mounted position, just as I would’ve when I was ten years old. I’ve spent a lot of time practicing kicks, but I still can’t really see myself kicking above the waste in a street fight. Even though my front kick is fairly quick and my side kick is pretty powerful, I’d rather rely on my hands. Kicking above the waste just feels too risky.

    However, I don’t feel I’m wasting my time by practicing techniques I’m unlikely to use on the street. I don’t believe the techniques matter too much, as long as you have some you’re good at. And it doesn’t make sense to dismiss a technique altogether simply because it isn’t one of your “bread and butter” techniques. There’s always the possibility you will have the need and opportunity to pull something different out of your hat when you find yourself in a fight.

    I think using a wide variety of training exercises helps build the elements that are essential – control, strategy, and composure. I am convinced of this because, even though I probably wouldn’t use many of my techniques on the street, I am confident I can now utilize my instinctive fighting method much more effectively than I could before I began my training. In order to understand how training hones your instinctive fighting method, it is necessary to define the three characteristics of a well-trained martial artist.

    Control means being in command of what your whole body is doing, both offensively and defensively. It includes the ability to strike and kick what you aim at. It also means knowing how to apply a choke, lock, or any other technique you use correctly, and understanding the effects of that action on the human body. If you have control, your movements are not random. They are efficient and purpose-driven.

    Strategy means having a plan for defeating your opponent. This doesn’t mean when you sense a fight coming you quickly devise a plan to win. Strategy is developed in training, and it is ingrained deep within. You don’t have to think about it in a fight, but it is there.

    Composure is the ability to keep your wits about you in a fight. You don’t freeze when you feel fear or pain, or when something unexpected occurs. You don’t allow anger to overcome you to the point that you put yourself in an unfavorable position.

    Possessing all three of these characteristics does not guarantee you a victory on the street, but it does give you a distinct advantage. If you have all three, you’re in elite company. Many people have some of these characteristics, but only well-trained fighters have them all. Let’s explore that idea further.

    Person A has been in dozens of street fights. He learned to fight in bars and back alleys. He’s strong and mean, and he doesn’t mind imposing his will on anybody who crosses him. He has composure coming out his ears. Why shouldn’t he? He’s stopped people dead in their tracks many times. He’s also been the recipient of some pretty severe beatings – and he’s still here. So, of course he has a cool head. He also has a bit of strategy that he learned the hard way. But when a fight starts, he attacks wildly with everything he’s got. That’s the only way he knows to do it. Sometimes he hits and sometimes he misses. What he’s lacking is the control that comes with training.

    Person B has been studying the martial arts for several years. He is graceful and he has beautiful technique. In fact, he knows hundreds of techniques. When point sparring, he wins far more often than he loses, even against other advanced students. He has control and strategy. But he hasn’t spent much time sparring with heavy contact. He is missing the composure that comes from being in situations where you experience pain and you can feel your opponent’s will to beat you.

    Person C has never participated in any type of martial art or combative sport. He’s also never been in a fight, aside from a few scuffles on the playground as a kid. He’s just an average, easygoing guy with a fairly gentle disposition. But he’s a man, and if you threaten him or push him far enough, he will fight. If he is forced to fight, he will do so until his opponent is no longer a threat, or until he himself is physically unable to continue. His willpower and sense of pride give him composure. But he lacks the control and strategy of a well-trained fighter.

    These examples illustrate the weaknesses of people who don’t possess the three essential characteristics of a trained street fighter. They also demonstrate why well-rounded martial arts training can provide the student with a huge advantage in a physical confrontation.

    The ways in which training exercises can enhance your street effectiveness are endless. Kata improves control. Full-contact sparring increases your composure. Point sparring builds control and strategy. The list goes on and on. The important thing to remember is that none of the essential elements can be neglected in training. Many different training regimens can produce a competent fighter, but every good martial arts program has one thing in common. They all help the student develop control, strategy, and composure.

    The theory that skilled fighters must possess these three essential characteristics goes hand-in-hand with traditional ideas about the unification of mind, body, and spirit. Strategy is a process of the mind. Control is a function of the body. Composure is dependent upon your spirit. If a fighter is lacking any of the three characteristics, then his mind, body, and spirit are not unified.

    *Please feel free to contact the author by replying to this post
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 28, 2004
  2. Developing

    Developing Valued Member

    This was a well thought out and well written piece.
  3. YODA

    YODA The Woofing Admin Supporter

    Nice article and welcome to MAP. :D

    I edited your final contact request in line with our Terms of Service
  4. KickChick

    KickChick Valued Member

    Excellent article ... and Welcome to MAP!

    Waiting to introduce you formally over at the Intros and Bios forum :)
  5. HearWa

    HearWa Ow, that hurt...

    Wow, nice article! Welcome to MAP. :D
  6. notquitedead

    notquitedead used to be Pankration90

    I don't agree with all of it, but well written. If you want feedback, I'll be happy to post where I disagree and we can discuss. :)
  7. Nrv4evr

    Nrv4evr New Member

    The first true thing I have read that integrates kata's importance. I haven't read any other articles, but this one is amazing on its own. I liked, especially, how you acknowledged the weaknesses of all fighters, rather than focus blindly on their strengths.
  8. notquitedead

    notquitedead used to be Pankration90

    I'm not trying to turn this into an anti-kata thread, but I just wanted to say that there are other ways to develop 'control' aside from doing kata. If you can develop control by doing things in a certain order in the air, then you can develop control by doing them in a certain order or randomly on focus mitts or a heavy bag, but that also gives the benefit of having resistance and having to strike through something, not just at it.
  9. Rojininstructor

    Rojininstructor New Member

    Much respect to such a strong mind and a objective approach.
  10. daftyman

    daftyman A 4oz can of whoop-ass!

    But it is a useful tool of development. Not the only way, but it is a way. Your way is also valid. :)

    To each their own.
  11. patrick_eudy

    patrick_eudy New Member

    Thanks for the comments everybody. Pankration, I agree with much of what you have to say. There are absolutely other ways to build control besides kata. But I think it is undeniable that any training exercise which requires you to make precise movements will have some impact on your control. Like my article says, many different training regimens can build the characteristics that make a competent fighter. I believe kata is just one training tool that can be used. I don't believe you should devote an inordinate amount of training time to kata, but I think it is useful. I honestly feel that my kata training has made me a stronger fighter, and believe me, I was not a believer in kata when I began my training. But that's just my opinion. I understand that many disagree on the subject of kata. But I really don't want to make this thread about the pros and cons of kata. That's really not the primary focus of my article. Thanks again for the comments.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2004
  12. Nrv4evr

    Nrv4evr New Member

    I agree wholly with you on this; I was just saying that kata is a means of developing control, and it is important, although it in different levels to different people. I do, acknowledge as well, that hitting a speed bag, sway bag, or even heavy bag, develops control just as well.
  13. xen

    xen insanity by design

    good work...ever considered learning taijutsu?
  14. JinkokMike

    JinkokMike New Member

    "I believe a skilled martial artist will defend himself on the street in much the same manner as he would defend himself instinctively if he never had a day of training. There is no reason why the techniques used by a trained fighter need to be very different from instinctive combat methods".

    I agree because most instinctive techniques are used in MA but are refined and improved to generate maximum effectiveness.
  15. mrfu

    mrfu New Member

    nice piece. yes it takes years of study before you become one with your art and it becomes truly instinctive.
  16. Xhou

    Xhou New Member

    That's an amazing article. I really enjoyed reading it! Good job!
  17. Visage

    Visage Banned Banned

    Good article, and welcome to MAP. Hope to see you around some more. :)
  18. clockman75

    clockman75 Banned Banned


    Hey, isnt that Patrick strong?
  19. Handsup

    Handsup New Member

    ye good article...iv read better though

    i dont think we can go past bruce lee's phylosophies for street fights. I know i go on and on about bruce lee but that is why ....everything stems from his ideas ...ppl used his ideas and just twisted it a little here and a little there to make their UNIQUE piece...

    Lee was the real deal, ...theres no one more i like researching about than Mr Lee.....truely phenomenal
  20. patrick_eudy

    patrick_eudy New Member

    Actually, I have read a lot of Bruce Lee's stuff, but it's been several years. The ideas in this article are a result of my own training experiences. If my ideas remind you of Bruce Lee's, I'll take that as a compliment.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2006

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