"I'll fight you on broken glass!"
You know, I've been seeing all of this nonsense for nearly five years on the Internet. Sometimes, "serious" martial arts and self defense forums resemble an MTV Show asking kids what their opinions are on martial arts and fighting. Grown men become children and squeal like little girls when you dare to challenge their worldview or sacred, martial cow (TM).
I'm not a badass, but I'm as bad as I ever had to be. I have kicked ass and had my ass kicked as well. I used to laugh at people I would meet who claimed to be in a lot of fights and never had their ass handed to them by someone that was stronger, faster, meaner or just plain “better” than they were. It sure is possible that people like that exist, but in most cases, it is usually a case of someone who has an undercurrent of “bully” in their persona and they pick their fights very carefully.
I once engaged an NHB Fighter in a "debate" in a forum and I tried to get the environment that I am used to, across to him as a reality. His response was, "I don't care, I'll fight you on concrete, blacktop or broken glass!"
I was like, OK, are we talking about going home with minimum damage to us and maximum damage to the attacker, or are we talking about sporting nonsense and ego inflation? What he could not comprehend was the fact that I don’t want to have to fight on broken glass. He just could not understand that survival is not a “game” to me. It’s not a sporting competition to me. It’s not something to hyper-inflate my own ego. I’m not so fragile in that department that I have to prove my manhood by saying such silly things, let alone doing them.
Call me a “sissy” or a “pussy” if you must, I’m not stupid. I have nothing to “prove” in the “balls” department. I want to survive, that is all. Almost everything you see on this website is geared to that end and that end only. Very little sporting element or “Art for the sake of Art.”
Really, you want to fight on glass? You think you're that bad? If you are, you're not bad, you're stupid. Watch Royce Gracie in one of the early UFCs where he goes upside down against the chain link fence with his face grinding into the mat. You think you're going to pull that off in the street where the chain link exists but the mat does not? You think grinding your face into blacktop or concrete with all sorts of sharp and jagged debris is "the way to go" when it comes to fighting?
If you do, you need your head examined; you're a fool, an idiot. Strong words, harsh words...true words.
Now, if you find yourself on the ground, being taken there against your will, you have to fight there. But the focus should be on getting back on your feet where you are not so vulnerable. Understand that the street (and the battlefield) is not a mat, nor is it a competition. It's real life where people live and die and of those that live, some are maimed, crippled and parts of them are destroyed forever.
Real life. No bullshit, no marketing hype, no theorizing or painfully convoluted reasoning...just reality. Reality is a bitch. Reality does not care how big your balls are or how bad you think you are. Reality just exists.
· While you may be able to control the person you are fighting, you cannot control the possibility that he will have a weapon you did not know he had until it is too late.
· While you may be able to control the person you are fighting, you cannot control the possibility or presence of multiple attackers, people other than him that might help him.
· While you may be able to control the person you are fighting, you may not be able to control the environment and who lands on what.
This will be incredibly unpopular with some people; I know that before I say it, yet I feel it has to be said. I know some people consider loyalty to system, style or teacher is paramount. I’m not trying to change you or even reach you. If you think what you are doing is the thing to do, by all means, do it. This is my opinion based on what I have observed. It is a warning to people getting involved in some systems and styles, people who are looking for a method of Self-protection.
Two more things to consider
1. Most people who are killed in streetfights by being punched in the face or head are not killed by the strike; their head impacting the ground kills them. I have observed this for a very long time in newspaper and other, local, news stories. I wish I had some online source to direct you to in order to “prove” it, but it is a reality that I have watched play out in the news time and time again.
2. In cases where multiple attackers are concerned and someone is beaten to the point they are in critical condition, or beaten to death, invariably, it ends up on the ground with the attackers kicking the person to death, etc. That being the case, the reality of the situation, why would you want to do half of the attacker’s job for them and favor the ground to begin with?
Going to ground is not an “advantage” on the street or Battlefield, this is where the clear difference is seen between Sporting and Combative.
This is where we see the Point of Demarcation between “Survival Arts” and “Sporting Arts.” The words, “Martial Arts” have been whored out to the point you don’t know what you are getting into anymore. It might be Sport, Spiritual, Cultural or Survival Oriented. Very few have several of the components at once, but they do exist.
So, to those that train to go to the ground to get some sort of “advantage” over an attacker because you think it is cool and you believe the hype, hey! You might just win! But what if you are fighting someone who does not play around? What happens when that folding knife, pocket screwdriver or boxcutter comes out that you never knew existed? It’s not going to be like sparring or a demo where everyone gathers around and they all know for the most part this is now shifting to the “Knife Defense” portion of class.
No, you’re going to feel it in most cases before you ever see it because smart, violent people don’t let you see anything, you’re already bleeding and maybe dying in some cases, before you even realize what happened. Understand that it is a myth that everyone will threaten you with a weapon before they use it on you. Especially if they are losing because you are more skilled than they are and you are actively beating them or humiliating them. Understand what I am saying, a common boxcutter that can be found everywhere, a little bit larger than a stick of chewing gum, can kill you. Understand, precisely, what I am saying…if you can feel your pulse, a boxcutter with intense pressure from the attacker, can sever that vessel. In general, if the pulse can be felt, you can cut the vessel with a very small but sharp knife.
Same thing holds true for the attacker having a concealed handgun that you did not know about. It is hard to get the “advantage” when you’re shot three times crossways through the thoracic cavity before you even knew what happened.
On the ground, you are vulnerable to weapons you did not know the attacker had to begin with. You are vulnerable to multiple attackers, the guy you are fighting, and he might have friends, relatives or associates that you don’t know about. Perhaps someone will just come up and kick you in that thick head of yours because they want to get a hit in and you’re there and you’re not supposed to be in that neighborhood. You know what I mean? There won’t be any opportunity for cool sporting movements when your head is punted like a juiced up NFL Player would boot the pigskin during the Super Bowl.
And, like it or not, even if you are crazy enough to say, “I’ll fight on broken glass!” Or perhaps you are nutty enough to claim; “I don’t care if you gouge one of my eyes out!” You’re not tracking properly on the concept of survival; you’re stuck in the game! Life is not a game, the street is not a game and the battlefield is not a game.
The Unforgiving Environment
I have been in areas where the ground was littered with used syringes, broken bottles of Night Train and Mad Dog 20/20, busted chunks of brick and cinderblock. Shattered and discarded heavy lumber with and without nails sticking out of it, used car parts like intake manifolds, water pumps and transmissions. All sorts of sharp, jagged and dangerous objects.
Fire Hydrants, curbs, cars, trashcans, all of these things can damage you and the only thing the grappling gods have to offer in response is, “Well, I want to let him land on that stuff…then I’ll land on top of him!”
Well, if your mindset is “grappling,” that’s what you are going to do, except you might not be in control like you think you will be. You might be the guy landing on that shit and be the one that gets damaged by it.
Certain people in the Military are giving BJJ and Variants of it a whole new audience and a whole new life now that interest in the UFC has waned. Now, some sectors of the Military are embracing grappling as a viable method of Combatives. This is not Combatives; it’s a sporting method.
The typical Battlefield environment is even worse than the street. With blasted out tree trunks/stumps and all manner of wrecked equipment, some people in the Military actually think going to the ground is not only viable, but also a great idea. Again, people are not tracking.
What really becomes a perversity is the concept of MOUT, Military Operations in Urban Terrain. With all of the aforementioned debris lying on the ground and the added element of blasted out chunks of concrete with rebar protruding from it, glass everywhere, steel “I” beams and twisted wreckage…you name it and it will exist in an urban environment that has been bombed or shelled. Yet, these sport adherents insist grappling is not only viable, but also preferred. It’s a particular bit of insanity that strikes the “True Believer.” I’m a True Believer in survival and not much of anything else.
Even if you know how to fall and even if you manage to land on your enemy, you may still be severely injured in a streetfight by the environment… But on a Battlefield with all of this garbage on the ground? Good grief, these people are shameless in their promotion of a “solution” to the “problem” of Combatives Training being “unpopular” with the Soldiers!
These Combatives Programs defy logic. Even the Gracies are fond of saying, “More than one? Get a gun!” This seems to be lost on the Military proponents of grappling in that environment.
What you need to know
So, does grappling have a place in Self-defense and Modern, Military Combatives? Yes it does! It always has and it always will. The difference being, you do not plan to go to ground nor do you train to go to ground. You train and make contingency plans for those times when, for whatever reason, you will be taken to ground by force. It’s really that simple. Any Self-defense or Military Combatives Program should be geared toward competency not in “grappling” but in knowing enough to get back on your feet where the “advantage” really is. There is no “advantage” to being on the ground because incredibly skilled athletes can demonstrate the “advantage” in a sporting environment that has rules, a forgiving surface, no multiple attackers and no possibility of hidden weapons...
By all means, learn how to counter, escape and counterattack from those positions! Do not, however, embrace the grappling mindset, it’s a killer in the real world and the fact that some people have used it and succeeded won’t make much difference when you encounter something they never did, like two more guys exiting a car, and you get killed.
I think everyone knows the often cited, “Most fights end up on the ground” is a statement not of fact, but taken out of context from a Los Angeles Police Department Study they conducted about how fights progressed with their Officers apprehending Suspects. Most aggressive people have to be taken to the prone position to be handcuffed; this is where that interesting statistic came from. Not from fights in general.
You are not apprehending anyone as a Private Citizen, you must survive and you must survive with as little damage as possible and grappling is not the recipe for that to become a reality.
The Prophecy: Hate Mail
I know this will happen, it is inevitable. But, you can save your time and the possibility of developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome by typing me out a lengthy correspondence informing me of how “stupid” I am, as one Aikido Practitioner did after I wrote another article on this site. Don’t waste your time, if you think I am so far off base and this article is entirely foolish, don’t waste your time. I know what I know and you’re not going to sway me or convince me differently. This is a common sense issue and not a matter of style or passion for an Art or Sporting endeavor.
You keep doing what you do and I will keep doing what I do. At the end of the day, I won’t be teaching my Wife to gain an “advantage” by willingly going to the ground for a violent rapist, thereby accomplishing half of the goal of his attack to begin with. It’s just stupid to me.
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