Everyone's got something to teach.

Youtube University has a fair number of fights caught on camera that are worth watching. I consider it a learning opportunity, any time I can bear witness to combat without having to participate myself. In the heat of battle we are most likely going to return to the habits we trust the most. It seems self-evident that the more we train good habits, the better we will fair. But, as this video demonstrates, good habits do not mean good fundamentals or good strategy.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdfSLnKMqq4&w=420&h=315]


On first viewing it is hard not to be impressed with the man in uniform even if, as it turns out, he was an unprovoked aggressor. He clearly has training as a boxer and isn’t afraid to throw in some knees as well. He maintains his guard and stance throughout, attacks various parts of the body with different angles of attack, and there is no sign that he is tiring when the fight is stopped.

On the other hand, his opponent seems completely outmatched, flailing his arms in desperation, dropping his head, and demonstrating no organized defense or offense at all. He holds his ground relatively well, but with an unbalanced stance, and he generally ends up retreating.

But, before we applaud the security guard for good technique, let’s consider what doesn’t happen. Despite his “training” the guard is unable to knock his opponent down or out. In fact, he is unable to finish the fight in any meaningful way, and therefore continues to face a threat (even if it was one he created). And, as we can see in the post-fight interview, the opponent has barely a scratch on him, despite what appeared to be an onslaught blows to the head. He even seems to feel that he was the victor. Why?

The guard lacks strategy for a street fight. If he had the luxury of multiple rounds in a boxing match, he would clearly dominate but, he doesn’t know how to corner his opponent outside of a ring. His flurry of blows is so frantic that none of them have a specific target (other than “head” or “body”) and he does not change his timing to account for his opponent’s reactions. Lastly, although he keeps his guard up, he does little or nothing to tie up the other man’s arms or legs, strategies that would have given him a big advantage.

Meanwhile, his untrained opponent does two things worth noting. First, he drops his head. This is not generally considered good technique but, in this case, it protects his face and neck and many of the blows glance off his hard skull. Second, in his desperation, he keeps one or both hands stretched out in front of him almost all the time. Whether pushing or punching, his arms are his primary defense, keeping is attacker at a distance. As a result of just these two instincts, he never allows a clean shot through to a vital target. Everything coming at him is glancing and, when it is over, he is generally uninjured.

So what’s the take away from this video. First, understand the difference between training for sport and training for life-protection. The former may help you in a self-defense situation but it lacks the decisive strategy necessary to insure your survival. Second, if you do nothing else, keep your hands up and out in front of you. The next time you practice on your own, I suggest going through your katas with this very idea in mind. You may see new applications that had not occurred to you before, as you reinterpret where the actual techniques take place. Recognize that simple fundamentals like this can change the outcome of a fight and they should be at the core of all your solo training.

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