Racecars and Eye Gouges

Iowa Corn INDY 250

What the heck do racecars and eye gouges have to do with one another? Stay with me for a minute and I will explain.

One of my pet peeves when it comes to self-defense is whenever an “expert” will denigrate combat sports such as Brazilian Jiu-jitsu or boxing, or any kind of competition like Practical Pistol shooting by saying if you engage in any of those things, you are building reactions that will cause you pain, suffering, and death on the street in a real life altercation.

They insist that doing even one competition or practicing with any idea of a sport context with rules will instill training scars that are impossible to overcome. Any hint or suggestion that there is anything that limits what reactions you can have will be apocalyptic in results.

Here is the problem with that idea – they do the same thing in their own training courses! Whether it is a firearms course or a combatives/H2H class, there are rules and procedures that are just as limiting as any competitive rule set. Don’t believe me? Well, answer me this. When was the last time a one-dimensional flat piece of paper attacked anyone? So if we practice shooting against that target, and never against a real 3-D person, why won’t we go into shutdown mode when confronted with the real thing?

Another example – When was the last time a self-defense situation was initiated by someone shouting “Up”, or “Bust ‘em”, or “Threat!”? Of course the answer is never, but those are all typical firing commands in street oriented/tactical/non-competition shooting classes. And yet the exact same people, who will say that going off a buzzer in an IDPA match will get you killed, will then have the equivalent stimulus! It is just so hypocritical.

If competition/sport oriented rules ingrain habits that will dominate your subconscious and cannot be overcome in high stress situations, then why do we not see literally thousands of automobile accidents take place every year where professional race car drivers are driving in normal traffic? After all, professional drivers (NASCAR, Indy racing, sprint cars, etc) spend hours a day, practically every day, on a track with no oncoming traffic, no traffic signals, and they are only turning left. If competition ruins you, then every self-defense oriented shooter should be vocally and loudly demanding that all professional racecar drivers should be banned from normal driving.

And yet, they don’t, because it would be ludicrous and stupid! Too bad that does not stop them from applying the same poor logic to self-defense and their magical fight stoppers like eye gouging (See? I told you I would tie it all together!) that somehow will be accessible even if you never actually apply them in real time against a resisting opponent. If driving on a circular track for far more hours than any person ever spends shooting does not warp your real world reactions, then shooting IDPA/USPSA or competing in a judo tournament won’t either. Period.

2 thoughts on “Racecars and Eye Gouges”

  1. Excellent point! I tried to bring this to the attention of some fellow students in my Krav Maga class by arguing that there are all sorts of rules and artificialities in our training, just as there are rules in all human interaction, even if those rules are not formalized.

    Even in our most realistic “simulations” there are always conventions about behaviors, and the knowledge that they are simulations. In fact, there are also usually rule-like patterns in most “no rules” street violence, and this is much of what specific discussions of situational awareness, and other tactics, are based on.

    On the idea of an “eye gouge” as a “magical fight stopper,” isn’t that simply another version of talisman thinking? Buying and carrying a gun/knife/kubaton/etc. won’t assure your safety, just as knowing any particular move won’t. Any eye gouge, groin kick, bite, gun, knife, etc. is just a tool, the key is in knowing what it might and might not do, how to deploy it under pressure, and what to do next if it doesn’t work in the way intended.

    Tying these two thoughts back together, part of knowing what a tool might and might not do is know how it interacts with the sociocultural rules in play. For example, and eye gouge or knife coming into a fight is going to do a lot to remove any appeal to the “fair fight” cultural model, and that itself should be seen as part of the tool’s effect.

    1. The eye gouge as a talisman is just a symptom of the underlying disease of someone who either is looking for the easy way out, or who does not really understand the physical side of violence.

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