For the guys…
There you are…having a drink at your favorite pub, minding your own business. You turn to look around the room to see which TV is showing the big game. And your elbow accidentally bumps some guy’s beer and spills it all over his girlfriend.
The guy is 6’4” and solid muscle. It’s obvious that he’s in great shape. He’s covered in tribal tattoos and wearing his favorite TapOut shirt. Oh boy. He probably trains in some kind of fighting system. And…he’s really pissed!
You immediately apologize and offer to pay their bar tabs. But that’s not good enough. This guy wants to teach you a lesson you’ll never forget.
Can you survive a fight with this guy?
For the girls…
It’s late. You’re getting off work or out of your night classes. You’re walking to your car in the parking deck when suddenly you’re attacked.
Your attacker is bigger and stronger than you. His teeth look rotten and he looks like he hasn’t bathed in a year. He’s grabbing at you and describing the sexually perverse things he’s going to do to you.
Can you escape the situation?
The Cold Hard Truth
Most people that call themselves martial artists have likely never been anywhere close to having been in a real fight. The chaos, the fear, the adrenaline, the pain.
It doesn’t matter if you took a self defense course once. Some training is better than none, but if you don’t practice consistently, your skills will deteriorate.
It doesn’t matter what your martial arts belt rank is. Your opponent doesn’t know your rank. Even if he did know your rank, he probably wouldn’t care and could actually make that his motivation to pound on you even harder.
It doesn’t matter that you train in a 900 year old martial arts style that has been tested and proven on the battlefields of ancient Japan. The better question is, “Have you been battle tested?”
In the Bujinkan, we have this concept of Shin Gi Tai Ichi (unification of spirit, technique, and body). We usually think about this only in regard to ourselves, but this also applies to your opponent.
Is your opponent:
- unmotivated? (ceases aggression at first sign of resistance)
- motivated? (willing to put in some degree of effort)
- highly motivated? (hell bent on getting what he wants no matter how much you resist)
Is your opponent:
- unskilled? (fights wildly with no control, balance, or effectiveness)
- skilled? (sort of knows what he’s doing; probably been in a few fights)
- highly skilled? (great deal of training, practice, and experience)
Is your opponent:
- in poor shape? (overweight, looks soft, or injured; smaller than you)
- in average shape? (average jogger/weight lifter)
- in very good shape? (athletic, buff, or bigger than you)
Think about this for a moment. Which opponent are you training for? Most, not all, but most martial arts training is geared towards resisting an unskilled attacker.
Motivation is the most important, but often the most ignored factor. Most self defense courses are designed to deal with a partially motivated yet unskilled attacker. This is fine. Most opportunistic criminals fall into this category. But what about a highly motivated attacker?
Which opponent should you be training for?
What Kind of Martial Artist Do You Want to Be?
If you’re serious about your budo, then working towards being highly motivated, highly skilled, and in very good shape should have been your answer to the above question.
Yet how many martial artists actually do that? Especially with the motivation aspect. This is why the ancient martial arts masters always wrote that spirit is more important than technique.
A Dose of Reality
Most of what is passed off as martial art is closer to martial fantasy or at best, martial theory.
Your teacher says you can knock out a man with a certain technique. How do you know? Have you actually knocked someone out with that technique?
Have you practiced sword skills yet never performed tameshigiri (test cutting through rolled and soaked rice straw mats with a live blade)? What is the real evidence of your skill?
There is a lot of talk about how you would fight in yoroi (Japanese armor), often commenting about how the additional weight (about 65-80lbs) of the armor changes your techniques. Have you actually trained in armor, or even worn armor? How do you know how the armor will affect your techniques?
From Theory to Practice
So how do you test your budo to see if it will work in a real situation?
Obviously, you can’t go out getting into fights just to test your martial arts. But you can train these aspects of Shin Gi Tai Ichi. This is where budo and daily life connect.
- Shin (spirit / motivation): Do things that require courage. Do things that require you to tap into your spirit to accomplish. Examine your life and find the things that you’re anxious about doing. Then start doing them. Of course, be smart and safe about it. Start small and build up. Discover your confidence.
- Gi (technique / skill): Find a good teacher that has an eye for reality and incorporates that into training. Use your own experiences or fights you’ve witnessed to evaluate the credibility of the techniques you are practicing. Drill your techniques repetitively while gradually increasing the energy and intensity.
- Tai (body / fitness): Work to get into shape. You don’t have to be in shape to begin martial arts training. But if you really expect to survive a real fight, you need to be in decent shape. You should at a minimum be able to run and sprint (towards the fight for cops and military; away from the fight in civilian self defense).
It’s not necessary to always train at full speed, full power intensity. That just leads to injury. But if you’ve never been in a real fight (or at least engaged in some hard and fast contact training at some point in your life), you may be in for a rude awakening.
Magokoro is not just sincerity in terms of sincere intentions, but also in sincere evaluation.
You have to use your own best judgement when it comes to choosing a teacher. Can he take you to where you want to go in your training? Be sincere in your evaluation and choose wisely.
Think critically and honestly when examining your own personal ability. Do you over estimate yourself? Do you under estimate yourself? Make an honest assessment.
These points are not just valid for your budo, but also for your daily life.
Ultimately, you responsible for your own training, safety, and survival. No one else. This is connected to true freedom.
What are your thoughts? Post your comments in the box below.