How Realistic is Your Training?

Considering that martial arts are, in essence, methodologies for fighting I always consider paramount to perform a reality check of each application. This is to assess if and when a technique or combination can be useful in a self defence or real fight situation.

Please notice that some styles, like kick boxing, tae kwon do and judo are to be considered martial sports and they follow rules that are designed to allow a sport competition to take place without causing serious injuries to those taking part in it. To some extend certain martial sports train full contact and a professional or a serious amateur of these is pretty safe in a fight as I recently mentioned in a previous post.

Certain styles that are pure martial arts, without sport applications, are meant to be useful for real fights and defending yourself. I am aware of a number of masters and instructors that remain pretty theoretical on the way they teach and assume that things will simply work: these people give a false, very dangerous, illusion to their students that risk to be seriously injured or killed in a real fight. It all good stating that one or the other technique will hurt an opponent, it’s another issue practicing it to ensure it works all the times.

So how do you perform a reality check? Here are some hints:

  • Have you tested your punches (or kicks, elbow or knee strikes) for real power?
  • The same strike might knock somebody down if applied to the head but just hurt a bit in certain areas of the body: did you consider that?
  • Have you considered how bad it could be hitting somebody in the face to find out that he hardly noticed the strike? What would you do then?
  • How much power do you think you need in order to knock somebody down or seriously injury them, allowing you to run away?
  • How would you react if somebody is charging you like a bull? Do you have a technique that would allow stopping or deflecting his attack?
  • Do you practice techniques that work at long, medium and short range? What about if the attacker is grabbing you?
  • Striking can be the non ideal solution sometimes. Do you practice techniques to seize the opponent and neutralizing him? Perhaps immobilizing him with a joint lock?
  • If you are below average the terms of body weight and size then you should consider training to defeat bigger people. What’s your body size compared to the average population?

I would be interested to hear comments about these issues.

6 thoughts on “How Realistic is Your Training?

  1. I think it is important that effectivness is addressed to some degree…Ive found some martial art groups are so far removed from reality and geared towards grading standards or competition that they can miss the potential in their respective arts…on the flip side, and being from a Boxing and Wing Chun background, the confidence these arts have instilled in me means I am under no illusion how my art could potentially backfire at street level if certain concepts arent explored fully and a certain degree of pressure testing is implemented within my teaching and training. In the Kamon Martial Art Federation that I currently teach for we work towards gearing ourselves up for street level confrontation and incorporate boxing sparring, grappling and clinchwork training and knife defence into an already proven to be effective close quarter system such as Wing Chun..we also practice ‘Milling’ an exercise the special forces use to channel and test aggression under pressure to give the members a chance to experience the fast paced shock of a realistic confrontation in relative safety.

    We all practice martial arts for a different reason at the end of the day and real life effectivness should, in my opinion be addressed but is only one aspect of the whole journey – we dont NEED to fight everyday, so we dont NEED to be trained killing machines either as long as we’ve got a fair idea of our capabilities and weaknesses in the art /(s) we follow.

    Paul Blissett – Kamon Wing Chun and Next Level Wing Chun instructor

  2. @Sifu Paul Bissett thanks Paul for the well developed comment. I agree with you on the last paragraph: I am definetely NOT fighting everyday. At the same time the essence of the post about ensuring that what you do has a meaning and you can tell at any given time whether it would work when needed.

  3. Excellent piece here. I’m digging back in time a bit but I’ve enjoyed this post.

    One of the reasons I chose the Tae Kwon Do school where I study is because the master has not only addressed the art he teaches but also the shortcomings for that art. Tae Kwon Do is great for keeping your opponent at a distance but what happens if he manages to get past your legs and inside?

    My master has addressed this by incorporating Hapkido into our curriculum. By doing that, he’s given us skills to deal with opponents at long, medium and short ranges.

    Early in my Tae Kwon Do training, I found that I have instinctive inside movements that will negate or mitigate the length and power of my opponents legs. Hapkido gives me the tools to take advantage of those instinctive moves and throw my opponent a real curve during an altercation.

    No martial art covers everything and blending various, complimentary arts, especially from the same culture, creates a more complete and realistic education. A reality check is always in order.

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