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PostSubject: COMBAT REALITY   Tue 28 Jul 2015, 10:25

COMBAT REALITY by Nick Hughes
Part One



Those of you who read Dennis Martin’s column will no doubt be familiar with the name Mass Ayoob. For those of you who aren’t, Mass is a Law Enforcement Officer who was given the job of travelling across America and interviewing officers who’d survived shoot-outs. He also reconstructs situations where officers have not survived, and tries to ascertain why. What Mass discovered was that American Law Enforcement firearms training did not take into account the stress encountered in a shoot-out. In other words, shooting at paper targets – that didn’t shoot back -in well-lit ranges, in the cold light of day did little to prepare them for a low light shoot-out against armed perpetrators -oftentimes with combat experience from the Vietnam War -trying to shoot back. As a result of his findings, the training was radically altered, at least in progressive open-minded Police Departments. Officers began to train in specially constructed mock buildings with electronic pop-up targets, that required shoot/don’t shoot solutions. Subsequently the statistics swung back in favour of the Police who undertook this training.

[Mass Ayoob coaching Den on a LFI course]

STRESS
Mass took it one step further and formed his Lethal Force Institute, where he trains civilians and Law Enforcement Personnel alike in the practical realities of surviving confrontations with criminals. For instance, to duplicate the effects of stress on an individual in a shoot-out, participants are required to run on the spot for three minutes to get the heart rate and breathing up to somewhere near where it would be in a real fight, then shoot under the pressure of hurled abuse, hot shell casings tipped down the back of your shirt, shocks from electronic stun-guns and time limits. The bottom line is that people who undertake this form of training are now surviving. The narrow minded are not. I believe that we, as Martial Artists, can, and most definitely should, take a leaf from their book!

[Professional bodyguards training in Switzerland]

EXPERIENCE
The first problem we must address is that most instructors aren’t qualified to teach. Bruce Lee put it rather succinctly when he said: “Would you learn to swim from someone who’s never been in the water?”
Most students of the Martial Arts are afraid of becoming, involved in an
 altercation, which is why they join a local club. During the next three to five years they will punch and kick mid-air and practice, for the most part, unrealistic techniques before receiving their black belts. They will never have hit anyone in anger, never have been hit, nor will they have tried to “put someone away” who is really out to “get” them. Some of them will then go out, set up a small club and begin to instruct others. Their instructors will never have been in a streetfight, nor will they, nor will their students and yet they are teaching people to deal with that situation. Is that realistic? Anyone with an IQ over 75 would have to say no!
This lamentable situation is unique to the Martial Arts. I hold a private pilots’ licence. The chap who taught me to fly has over 20 years and thousands of hours of hands-on flying experience under his belt. Had I gone to that flying school and been told: “Oh yes, Mr Davidson will be teaching you. He’s an avid birdwatcher, has built the entire range of Airfix model aircraft, was told all about flying by a chap who was told by a chap who was in the war (as ground- crew) and he’s even done ten hours in a simulator,” then I for one would not have gone up in a plane with him, despite his ‘impressive’ qualifications’. I would harbour grave reservations about the intelligence of anyone who did, and yet, that’s the situation that exists in thousands of Martial Arts schools in the world today!
No doubt a lot of you -probably the guilty ones -are now getting on your high horses and saying: “What about technique, what about sport, what about fitness and philosophy, not everyone. wants to be a streetfighter.” To you, I say this: I trained under an instructor in Australia who has over 500 schools nationwide, 25,000 students, past and present, of whom over 5,000 are black belts. Everyone who has ever joined his organisation fills out an enrolment form, on which one of the questions is ‘Why do I you wish to study Karate?’ Guess what? Over 90% of applicants reply ‘Self Defence’. Not sport, not fitness, not philosophy, or character building, or anything else. All of the latter are sidelines to pursue once you’ve learned to defend yourself; then you might compete against colleagues for trophies, get into Zen or pursue inner harmony etc. But that’s not why you join.

THE STREET
Take the flying analogy again. People want to learn to fly, once they’ve done that they may then fly for business, they may race for trophies or they may find peace and solitude up there in the clouds, but first, they must be taught to fly! The same is true of the Martial Arts, first they must be taught to fight!
Back to my Australian Sensei. He was a former nightclub bouncer who got into Karate to make his job easier. He owned a security company that looked after every major East coast venue in Oz at one stage or another. Before you got black belt with him you got a job on the door of one of the clubs he looked after. So you learned for real, first hand, what worked and what didn’t. Because of that policy, every instructor in his style knew how to fight, they didn’t teach techniques unless they’d used them themselves and knew they worked. Now that’s realistic. Remember Bruce Lee? He claimed most Martial Arts styles were a classical mess. Where did he find that out? Well, if the stories are true, it was streetfighting in Hong Kong. That’s why Gary Spiers was in demand to teach his brand of mayhem (incidentally, we trained with the same instructor in Oz). It’s why Black Belts in the USA seek out and train with Charles Nelson and it’s why Terry O’Neill ‘s seminars are so popular. He has been there and ‘done a bit’ (17+ years on Liverpool nightclubs), so compared to the average Karate Instructor he’s a different kettle of shark.
Does that mean I’m advocating every student of the Martial Arts should go to work on the door? No, most definitely not, but any of them who want to go on to teach should, otherwise how can they justify what they’re teaching? Earlier in the piece I said that a lot of techniques are unrealistic. We’ll go on to examine some of them.

PAIN COMPLIANCE?

Fingerlocks, wristlocks and armlocks are all basically a waste of time. In the controlled atmosphere of the dojo, with a willing, sober partner they work wonderfully well. Outside, in the real world, as a result of nervousness and adrenalin, your palms will be dripping with sweat (most people get like this meeting their bank manager), and, if cut, blood. His (the oppositions’) will be the same, so the resulting, bloody, sweating, slippery mess doesn’t make for a good grip, especially with finger and wristlocks. Bear in mind that he won’t be a willing partner in all this. My best friend is an Aussie SWAT officer and undercover agent who holds ranks in Aikido, laido, Karate and Judo. I was asking him once about the efficacy of Aikido and he confessed that he’d never been able to pull off any of the wristlocks despite trying. Up against a drug crazed, determined individual, bigger than you, with slippery hands they just do not work.
Something else to consider is that in the dojo we more often than not use these techniques as ‘pain compliance’, which is a use for which they were never intended. They were originally designed to break the joint against which they were applied. In a real fight they won’t work as ‘pain compliance’ due to external influences such as drugs, alcohol and adrenalin. Don’t take my word for it, ask a cop who was taught these techniques how effective they are against a really determined, psychopathic, razor wielding thug! What if you did take one to its logical conclusion and broke the joint? Well it’s simple, you’ll ‘go down’ for Grievous Bodily Harm. The law states that in a self-defence situation you may use reasonable force. Most of these locks are applied against someone grabbing you. Breaking someone’s elbow who’s grabbed your lapel doesn’t quite fit that description. Also remember that in the majority of these locking techniques you’re using two hands to tie up one of his. …how smart is that? And what are his friends doing while you lock their mate? One-on-one situations are a rarity nowadays. …so rule out locks.

CROSS-TRAINING
 Now another problem. Most Martial Artists only train to beat someone within their system. Every style is guilty of it and yet what exactly are your chances of coming up against a fellow stylist in the street? If your training is realistic you’ll train against streetfighter’s techniques such as headbutts, sneak attacks, pool cues, chairs and bottles. I watched three guys practising the following in Oz once….two stood just each side of a rubbish bin while the third would run up, place both hands on their shoulders and then swing both feet into the can folding it in half. That was the same technique they were going to use in a mugging, the two standing just either side of the victim while the third came running out of the shadows to hit the intended target and fold him in half. That’s what you’re up against. Karate students spend years perfecting a defence against a reverse punch. How many street fighters are going to use one of those? I’ve been in over 2,000 street altercations and you know what? I’ve never seen a reverse punch yet! Most martial artists are also only good at one distance. Ask yourself this, how good is a boxer on the floor? A Tae Kwon Do stylist in a phone box, or a grappler against five guys at once?

THE ATTITUDE FACTOR
Attitude is another thing to consider. It’s why the average street hoodlum treats your average Martial Artist with disdain. The average, thug is a sociopath, he thrives on hurting people, he enjoys it more than sex! I was called in on the tail-end of a huge brawl in the Arab quarter of Marseille, whilst a Military Policeman in the Foreign Legion. During the brawl a gang of Arabs had been kicking someone in the head who was un- conscious on the deck and the force of the kicks had started to tear the skin at
the neck. The tear got larger and larger and eventually the guy’s head came right off! Did they feel remorse? Did they stop? No, they played soccer with his head until the law turned up in sufficient force to drive them away. Technique doesn’t count here. Give a pacifist a machine gun and a thug a bread knife, and if the pacifist can’t bring himself to pull the trigger the thug will win -despite inferior “technique”.
I’m not saying you have to enjoy fighting, firemen often fight fire with fire and it doesn’t make them arsonists. A little known fact is that US Marines back in the fifties (prior to animal liberationists) used to be given cats as part of their unarmed combat training. They would have to gouge out the cat’s eyes. The powers that be figured that if a Marine was too squeamish to do it in training on a cat then he’d be equally too squeamish on the battle field. Proper realistic training should have exercises (no, not the one with the cats) to develop aggression levels but very few do.


[Aggression training on Nick's US class]

On the subject of eyes, what about eye strikes. They are laughable. Whilst eye gouging works extremely well in a grappling situation, eye strikes are best left to the films. Trying to hit a target as small as an eye on something as mobile as the head is akin to threading a moving needle. Again, don’t take my word for it. Ask someone who puts it on the line for a living, sometimes you have trouble hitting their heads with your fist! Let’s assume for a minute that you are capable of pulling one off. You’ve just blinded someone for life who was trying to punch you. That should get you about seven years all expenses paid government holiday at the crossbars hotel.
Jump kicks, high kicks and spin kicks are equally ludicrous. None of them are feasible without large amounts of room to manoeuvre and most altercations take place at headbutt, elbow and knee distance. Consider also icy footpaths, tight clothing and no time to warm up. Kicking someone in the head (unless they’re on the floor) makes about as much sense as punching someone in the shin. And turning your back on someone to do a spin kick will probably get you a knife or glass in your back. It also breaks the cardinal rule of streetfighting i.e. never take your eyes off the enemy.


[Nick teaching]

GET REAL!
Come back to clothing for a moment. John Kuhl, a US based instructor teaches what he calls ‘Workable Karate’. His dojo has a small bar, park benches and a train seat in it. Once a week his students are required to train in their street clothes and practice real life scenarios involving the above props. Apparently it’s a real eye opener for traditional stylists who visit his classes, as some 75% of their techniques are rendered useless under those conditions.
What about blocks? Most students spend hours and hours going up and down the dojo floor practising blocks that will never work. Watch two high-ranking black belts spar and see if you can spot one doing a block. I’ve experimented with my students and put them into free- sparring despite never having taught them to block. What happens? Their own natural reflexive action takes over and they start slapping things out the way. A good tight guard with fast foot- work is far superior to blocking. Still not convinced? Watch a Tyson fight and count the blocks. Boxers aren’t so stupid as to tie up one hand blocking something they can just as easily slip or duck. Besides, ducking, bobbing, weaving and slipping all leave you with both hands in a position to counter attack. Hell, why even do that? If you know the situation is about to ‘kick off’, whack the guy first. It still constitutes self-defence in the eyes of the law, and attack has always been the best form of defence! Here’s something else to think about. If you were standing in the path of an on- coming vehicle would you take a nice deep stance and try and block it, or just jump out of the way?
Of course if blocking with one hand is bad then an ‘X’ block is totally stupid. What if the attack is a feint? You’ve just tied up both hands and don’t have a reserve to block with and nothing to counter strike with either.
Ironically, blocks do have a practical application and that’s as attacks. An upper block makes a good forearm smash into the windpipe and is a good strangle. The inner block is a good arm break, whilst the outer block is a nice choke and an excellent disembowelling technique with a knife.

BLADES
Knife defences. Here, more than any other sphere of combat, do we spot the glaring inadequacies of the average instructor. I’ve listened to them tell students that it’s easy to take a knife from someone. LUDICROUS! If you go up against an even halfway competent knife fighter you will get cut. That’s the bottom line! All you can do is put the guy away before you get cut too badly. The second major problem with knives is that you probably will not even see one until you’ve been stabbed or slashed, so follow Dennis Martin’s advice, assume that every fight you’re in is an armed encounter -whether you see a blade or not.
Something else to ponder. Why do instructors deal with a punch in one manner and a knife in another? Traditional Budo maintains (and rightfully so) that a weapon is an extension of your arm. That being the case why try and grab the knife hand and apply a lock? Let me digress here for a minute. If you’re in any school that teaches you any technique that involves grabbing a punch then get the hell out quick. I defy anyone to catch my punch and I’ll even tell you which hand I’ll throw it with and where. You cannot, repeat, cannot catch a punch. This no doubt stems from one step sparring exercises where the attacker leaves his hand out. As I said earlier, I’ve been in a lot of fights, and I’ve yet to see someone throw a punch and leave it out there.
Let’s get back to knives for a minute. Want to see how hard it really is? Get dressed in just a pair of shorts and get a rubber knife and put lipstick along the “sharp edge”. Have someone attack you with the knife full on, random attack, blitz style. In about thirty seconds you’ll be covered in slash marks from top to bottom. This one is a real eye opener. What about the advice, ‘you should run away from a man with a knife’. Unfortunately, the thug with the knife is usually some skinny kid in basketball ‘trainers’ and the victim is a 45 year old, out of condition businessman wearing patent leather soled shoes. Finally on the subject of blades, you should practice all your de fences against a real knife. Training against a dummy blade produces dummies. It in no way prepares you for conflict with the real thing.

[Knife drills in Nick's class]

Warning: As with any such practical advice, the more realistic your training becomes, the more danger is involved. Great care must be exercised in ‘live’ weapons training. Such training should be carried out only by experienced qualified instructors, under very controlled conditions.

STANCES
Deep stances are also unrealistic. They’re really only a training exercise to stretch and build the leg muscles. You don’t fight out of them. You may have once but then fighting shouldn’t be static. Compare old boxing photos of people like Figg and Sutton to modern boxers like Tyson and Lewis, and you soon realise how it’s evolved. Any instructor who says the old way is the best should ignore anaesthetic on his next trip to the doctors and just have the slug of whisky and bite on his belt while they operate … oh, and give up your car and get a horse! Deep stances are too static for modern combat. Up against more than one attacker you have to be much more mobile; moving targets are a lot harder to hit!

CONTACT
Here’s another one. Can you take a shot? You’re better off finding out in the dojo than in the street. Now I know that being constantly hit in the head makes ‘Jack a silly boy’, which is why you never see many smart old boxers around the place. Every time you take a punch in the head you lose about a million brain cells and unfortunately they don’t rejuvenate, but the key word here is constantly. It isn’t going to hurt you once or twice (well, not permanently anyway!) to put on some gloves, a mouthguard, cricket box and shoes and go all out with someone similarly attired for two minutes. It’ll tell you an awful lot about yourself and combat reality.


[Pressure testing at our International Seminars, involves dealing with contact]

I could go on but I think by now you must be getting the general idea. Training, to be practical, has to be as realistic as possible. The UK’s own S.A.S., undoubtedly the best Special Forces unit in the world today train with live rounds in their “killing house”. They even play the part of hostages while their mates burst in firing live rounds at targets around them. One of them has a balaclava where the wool on one side is frayed due to the passage of a bullet. ..which is about as real as you want to get.
So ask yourself, is your training as realistic as it might be? Are you restricted in any way? For example, no footsweeps, no groundfighting, or unrealistic techniques and, if so, is there anyway you can change the practice? You’ll get a lot closer to the truth as you eliminate the rules, because there aren’t any in the street.
No doubt some of the above is a bit controversial, but did you think it was so because it’s wrong, or because it’s the truth and the truth hurts? In any case, I hope it is.1 doubt anyone would read this site if all the articles within coincided with their own views. If it even changes the outlook of one person and subsequently saves their hide in a real fight, then I will have been justified in writing it. Remember, fighting is a serious game: People Die Doing It!   Don’t waste time practising the impractical; get real. ..the more you sweat when you train, the less you bleed when you fight!
Nick's latest series of DVDs available here

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