Don’t Limit Yourself pt. 1

I know I should probably stop reading internet discussion forums, but I can’t help myself. I do know in general that most of them are populated by people hiding behind their keyboard and who would never act or talk face to face the way they act online, or people who have a greatly inflated sense of their self-worth. It would certainly keep my blood pressure down if I left them alone. However, there are a few reasons I go back. On the one hand, there are sometimes great nuggets of useful information. Finding a mention of an article or a video clip I never saw, or some piece of technical information is often worth wading through the chaff. Also, there are those online who are honestly struggling to find good information and act in good faith. A third reason is that sometimes the idiocy is wonderfully amusing and brings a laugh to my heart.

There was a recent one I was reading on a gun-centric “tactical” forum where many people were voicing their opinions on what type of empty hand fighting systems should one study to be as functional as possible in a self-defense situation. Now, I guess I should be thankful they were having the conversation at all, because it was not all that long ago that the prevailing thought on gun forums was that there was no need for H2H when you carry a gun. So, the fact that they have matured in their thinking process is a good sign. However, many of them then proceed down ludicrous rabbit holes. There were two conspicuously bad ideas that I want to address for any reader of this blog who might stumble across a similar argument in the future.

To keep this post from being too long, I will break into two parts. Let’s address the first issue now.

1) The first idea propagated by a bunch of the posters is apparently that only an elite athlete in his mid-20’s could ever successfully even train, let alone use, H2H stuff. It is fascinating that people who have never stepped foot in a modern MMA/BJJ based gym absolutely KNOW what it is like, and that they cannot ever succeed at it, and they then take the attitude of so why bother? If you made a similar statement regarding pistol instruction when you never took a pistol class, all of those guys would be on you like white on rice for your effrontery. I guess the fact that I am a middle-aged, asthmatic non-professional athlete is irrelevant. I guess that the 71 year old retired dentist I regularly train with is an anomaly. I guess that all the Masters level divisions in BJJ competitions should not be counted. I guess that paraplegic that just got his blue belt under Rener Gracie should be ignored. The simple fact is this: ANYONE can train in H2H skills. Obviously, the 65 year old with physical issues is not going to train the exact same way, or with the same level of intensity, or put in the same amount of time that the 25 year old elite athlete does, but it is still putting effort in the same methodology and getting similar results. Will it make the 65 year old capable of winning a match in the UFC? Of course not, but it will absolutely make him far more capable of dealing with a violent physical threat than he otherwise would be. Almost any moderately sized BJJ/MMA school in the world will have a number of students who are older or who have physical limitations. That is not a valid excuse to stay away from putting in a bit of effort.

For example, take a look at this video. Not only is the guy in blue blind, he does not look like a spring chicken either. Yet, those handicaps are not a brake to him performing good jiu-jitsu:

Or this one of a 61 year old man practicing:

And here is a man with cerebal palsy getting out on the mats:

Why someone would purposefully tell themselves that they are too old, too weak, too injured, too frail to do anything is beyond me. I believe in always working to be better than you were the day before, even if that is only by 1/10th of one percent. Always move forward.

One of the benefits of taking control of your right to self-defense by carrying a gun is that you make a statement that you will stand up for yourself and will not let anyone take your life or well-being, or the lives and well-being of your loved ones away. Why would you then abdicate that responsibility by letting yourself believe that you are less than you are capable of by not trying to doing something that pushes your own boundaries of comfort? If you agree that there are bad people out there that may try to hurt you and you will not be able to have or use your gun, then not trying to fix that is a lapse in your determination to defend yourself.  I just don’t get that.




Early 20th Century Combatives

Here is a terrific article on Combatives use in WW1. A really fun read.




What the article clearly demonstrates, much to the chagrin of those who dislike grappling, close quarters combat, even in a weapons bearing environment, is a necessary skill set. Check out this quote from someone who was actually there:

“After a bayonet attack in nine cases out of ten trench or open warfare the men grapple. The man who has never been there before doesn’t know what to do”

We Are Not Yoda

We are fortunate to be around at a time in history when great training and information in the self-defense and tactical communities is more accessible than it has ever been. With just a quick use of our Smartphone or tablet, we can be in touch with the best training in the world. It only takes a moment to find a video clip, find a research article, or schedule to attend a seminar with a top instructor.

And make no mistake; there is so much awesome information out there. However, I think there is one overriding pressing issue that is rarely addressed, and in my opinion, is a huge gap in many otherwise great training programs and methodologies. That issue is that too many instructors make a huge assumption that is full of fail.

What assumption? That we will know what is going to happen, and when it will happen.

There are far too many training scenarios and techniques that are set up with the underlying idea that you will be able to tell when the bad guy is going to attack. And, having started with that idea, methods are presented that REQUIRE that forewarning. Unfortunately, real life is not that way. As much as we would all like to pretend, we are not some omnipotent Jedi Master, that can use the Force to sense when bad stuff is heading our way. And, on top of that, the realities of modern life impose such a high amount of cognitive overload on a daily basis, that too much of our brain function is occupied with anything but being prepared to sense trouble.

It would be awesome if we could be in tune with the Force, or even that we could be 100% situationally aware at all times. But neither will happen.

So what do we do? The main thing is that we have to have a robust set of responses we can rely on when we are assaulted by surprise. And, then train them in a manner that makes it as tough as possible to succeed. We need to dig as deep a hole as possible in training so we can learn to get out of it. Do that enough and we will have installed some responses that you know will be accessible under the worst conditions, rather than stuff that will only work when everything goes our way.

Though if someone ever invents a functional lightsaber, all bets are off.