Thursday, 9 June 2011

Fighting Without Learning to Fight

Ok so we all know how many books and DVD’s are on the market about learning self defence, street combat and martial arts. One man and his dog seem to be cashing in on these fast track methods. Everything these days seems to be fast, fast cars, food, cash, takeaways, credit and so on and so forth. No wonder were overweight (me included) and up to the eye balls in debt as a country.
Has anyone stopped to consider that fast does not always mean better, some time ago I had an individual knock at my door asking me to join their organisation in a particular martial art. Now I don’t want to go into all the details but let’s just say I was told I would be a black belt within eighteen months (yes you read that right – eighteen months) and have my own dojo with a large quantity of students and lots of lovely badges for my Gi and all I had to do was give them most of the money made from the students. Needless to say I did not take them up on their offer (would you?). Of course instructors need to make money, the rent for halls and sports centres is on the increase and equipment does not buy itself but at what point do we draw the line before we start ripping people of with their hard earned cash.
Okay so I’ve had a bit of a moan so what is my point? Well it’s this; how can anyone hope to learn effective methods of combat or self defence without ever having taken a blow to the body. I make no bone about the fact to my students and anyone else for that matter about the fact how many times I have had my backside handed to me during a fight, I have even mentioned this issue on many courses. My assistant instructor (Matt Chadwick) told me about a quote he had read lately “a black belt only covers two inches of your backside, the rest you have to look after yourself “Now don’t misunderstand me the Shodan grade is an achievement and one to be proud of for many years of hard work in whatever chosen art a person chooses to study. Let’s just imagine for a moment I took the offer of eighteen months for a black belt from that organisation, the only person I would have fooled was myself.
Its fare to say my club is not big, it does not have a high turnover of new members and I have never made any money from running the club. We only grade once a year and that is usually a six to eight hour course designed to wear the person out before taking the grade, even then they have to compete in the battle royal after the grade with the rest of the club. Okay some of you are asking what the hell a battle royal is. Well basically it’s a five minute free for all punch up were anybody can attack anybody using any technique at anytime, group members are also encouraged to gang up on other students. Sound easy? Well try that for five minutes after training virtually none stop for six to eight hours. Not all pass the grade but if they do then trust me they deserve it.
It is my belief that sparring drills and group fighting should be an essential part of any students training and lots of it. For a start it can help people overcome the fear of getting hit and accept the fact that during violence you’re going to get his at some point. Conflict resolution training etc have their place but when it comes down to protecting yourself you may on occasion have to throw your own punches and kicks to protect yourself. How effectively does a person really think they can learn to defend themselves from books, DVD’s and the ever growing number of fast track training courses?
I have had many occasions from prospective new students heard the words “so how long until I get my black belt” This weighs heavy on the heart, as I know these people will never become regular students”.
I attended the ultimate fighting championship eighty held in Newcastle a few years ago which as you might expect was packed with fans and martial artists. In our section there was a particular rowdy group of young lads whom new everything there was to know about fighting, the fighter is doing this wrong, he should have done this, I would have done that and shouting stand them up ref etc. For a start unless you’re a professional fighter that makes a living out of fighting what sane person really wants to be involved with violence? And secondly what make the average Joe think he can get in the ring with an armature, semi professional or professional fighter? We go to work, have families, go out on the drink with mates etc and maybe train a couple of times a week. They train virtually every day on fitness, cardio, bag work and sparring, they are used to getting hit hard and fighting back hard.
It may seem like I am anti-martial arts, nothing could be further from the truth as I have spent most of my life since early teenage years learning them. Learn your art, love your art and practice it to perfection. Cross train and enjoy what you do to the max but don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re a fighter because of a piece of dyed cotton cloth round your waste, a few DVD’s and books and a bit of kumite every now and then. It’s a safe bet to say that the person of persons attacking you are not bothered about form, posture or the history of a martial art. They simply want to hurt you. How many of us martial artist and self defence instructors put ourselves under real pressure to test our abilities and techniques. It’s real eye opener when your training partner or partners are really trying to hurt you for real.

To find out more about Evasive Self-Defence Combat System visit or e-mail John Barrass at:


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