Photo by Thomas SandersAn untrained person who challenges you to a stand-up fight or who “faces off” with you for a physical contest is not a serious threat. If, for some reason, you find yourself unable — or unwilling — to decline such mutual combat with an untrained person, all you really need are the three basic skills of the combat athlete: the ability to strike effectively with your lead hand, the ability to utilize lateral movement to avoid a clinch and the ability to splay against a takedown. The criminal is scenario-dependent. To reliably “score” the number of victims necessary to support his drug habit, he must do one of two things. The first is conduct an ambush based on previous observations of the target’s patterned behavior. The second is approach a fixed target (such as a person waiting for a ride) and conduct an “interview” according to a practiced pattern, the course of which will determine — and possibly set up — a successful attack. The robbery-motivated attacker is best foiled by closing his window of opportunity through avoidance tactics like walking instead of waiting for a bus; pacing, as if your ride is late, instead of standing; carrying something in your hand; or varying your arrival time and parking place. Combat with this type of attacker is often successful — but almost always discouraged. A friend of mine who is not a trained fighter recently managed to fend off two armed muggers, but how can he know whether they were HIV or hepatitis-C positive?
Announcing a new low price on the Greg Jackson Mixed Martial Arts Core Curriculum, an online course from Black Belt magazine and the world’s leading MMA coach! Learn the best fighting techniques, combinations and strategies on your tablet or smartphone. More info here!The criminal’s approach tactics include panhandling, bumming a cigarette and asking for directions or the time. This is intended to measure the target’s timidity, distract him and keep his hands busy. To avoid falling into the criminal’s trap, do not stand in the open or against a wall. Putting your back to a light pole or mailbox is better. That protects your back against a secondary attacker and gives you an obstacle with which you can frustrate frontal attacks. When subject to approach tactics, step away, speak with authority and scan your surroundings for accomplices while engaging the primary attacker in minimal conversation. Shift any burdens, such as a briefcase or bag of groceries, to the arm closest to your assailant, preferably to your weak side. Persistent “interviewers” can often be frustrated when you use a curb to shift your position to a higher or lower level. Getting close to traffic — and even walking down the center line of the street — should shake off all but the drunken and the deranged. The newest release from combatives authority Kelly McCann and Black Belt is titled Kelly McCann Combatives 2: Stick & Ground Combat. It’s a streaming-video course you can watch anywhere on your digital device. Click here to watch the trailer and then sign up. Personal assaults resulting from grudges, arguments, jealousy, envy, hatred and so on tend to be brutal. They are often, but not always, related to alcohol use, and they usually begin with a sucker punch. Real-life assailants are far more effective than most martial arts teachers would have you believe. I’ve sustained worse injuries while dealing with unskilled but experienced fighters than while facing trained fighters. Although every violent incident is unique, it is useful to note some general tendencies of the different types of attackers: • The tall, untrained fighter feels a need to dominate. That urge can result in an attempt to control the situation through slapping, pushing, grabbing and pinning — a head against a wall, for instance — with his lead hand. He is less likely to “hook” his punches than is a shorter man. He is also more likely to finish a prone opponent with a stomping attack, as tall men are generally uncomfortable on the ground. Overall, experienced tall fighters tend to exhibit more versatility and less bad intent than their shorter counterparts. • The short, untrained fighter is a well of bad intentions, motivated by an intense urge to injure his larger antagonist — usually with a vicious hook to the head. He is more likely to punch with both hands than is a taller man. Fear of a larger man often ensures a ruthless attempt to finish the encounter by maiming an immobilized opponent with gouges, bites, head butts, jump-stomping and the use of improvised weapons. Expect him to work harder than a bigger man. Ground-fighting with a stocky person who is motivated by hatred is not a lot of fun. • The group is dependent on cohesion, in much the same way that the criminal is dependent on an advantageous situation. The key to dealing with a group is the ability to affect its unity. There are plenty of competing theories for accomplishing this objective, and debating their merits is beyond the scope of this post. However, keep in mind that the application of such theories will be messier than their study. • The hitter is a rare version of a type of attacker who has had enough success to formulate a recipe for doing business. He is more dangerous than most highly skilled fighters — and some prizefighters — and often has a background in scholastic contact sports. Only those willing to plant and nurture the seeds of bad intent — by stiffing their bookmaker, for instance — are likely to be ambushed by such a person. To better understand the mentality of this type, watch videos of David “Tank” Abbott’s early matches in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Mike Tyson’s post-prison bouts and any Paul Varelans UFC fight. These are all examples of undisciplined, undertrained fighters who nevertheless retain the ability to bully many of the world’s best. Conversely, Marco Ruas and Evander Holyfield demonstrate the character and skill required to deal with an experienced brute. Silat for the Street is the title of an online course from Black Belt Hall of Famer Burton Richardson and Black Belt magazine. Now you can learn the most functional silat techniques whenever and wherever you want on your smartphone, tablet or computer. Get more info here! Style-vs.-style arguments are an empty obsession when it comes to surviving real violence. Would you compare an apple to an orange to determine the flavor of an avocado? The most troubling aspect of this obsession is the value that eclectic martial artists place on their perceived ability to defeat traditionalists and athletes. Fumio Demura and Roy Jones Jr. are not among your potential attackers. Winning a street fight is an adolescent notion at odds with practical self-defense. This ethos of winning is often reflected in the use of hyped terminology like “shatter,” “destroy” and “blast.” In reality, victory is a perception. As an adult, I’ve never been defeated by an attacker, yet I cannot claim to have “won” a single real fight. A referee never stepped onto a parking lot or loading dock to raise my hand in victory. People who consistently “win” real fights all have one thing in common: They enjoy hurting people. Survival is good enough for me.