Training to Fight / The Myth of Self Defense

By Luis Gutierrez

The debate about training for the street and training for sport never seems to end. I decided to make an individual link to handle this question since it so commonly arises and to prevent any misunderstandings about my intentions when it comes to ODMA, it's active philosophy or curriculum. The following is my opinion and simply that. Please feel free to contact me if you have anything to add but I hope my point has been made clear by the time you finish reading this page. I don't see what all the fuss is about but here goes…

My definition of what is combative sport and what is fighting is as follows: If both parties agree to fight under specific rules and regulations within a specific time frame, then it's a combative sport. If any one party does not wish to participate and / or is forced to at any given time or place, then it's a fight. The primary difference is what is being fought for and the reason why. One is a job or a sport for money, honor, or prestige, and the other is sheer survival for life, well being and / or liberty. One entails specific rules of engagement; the other's only rule is no rules.

How this influences me and my role running ODMA is as follows: I train for many reasons. Self-defense is not one of them but simply a by product of them all. I believe that one on one hand to hand "fights" of honor only occur in the ring. I am not concerned with what worked in Feudal Japan nor what was honor once upon a time in a more "innocent" America. In my life, I have yet to ever see, read of, or hear of someone being attacked or robbed honorably. (Granted, I have seen a great deal of theft in boxing.) I am 34 years old with a loving family, rent, bills, debts and every working American's dreams to succeed. Responsibility, more so than any martial art could ever dream of, has readily allowed me to walk away from challenges to my ego. Now, do you actually think for a moment that a threat (not a challenge) to me or my loved ones would have anything to do whether or not I trained martial arts?! The will to action at that moment would have nothing to do with any confidence or techniques acquired through the martial arts. None! If I were alone and attacked I would rely on my track and field ability. If I'm with loved ones… the pain tolerance, endurance, power and ferocity given by God at that moment is a force of nature and has nothing to do with civilization's fighting arts. My training? Against being outnumbered or dealing with a weapon? No style will save you, only your wits. It has much more to do with your psychology and your will to survive and protect life than any manufactured technique or style designed supposedly to end it.

The myth of street fighting: They seldom ever occur on a street. Try instead, bars, clubs and places serving alcohol and selling a whole lot of mood and attitude. These ego-based displays of physical prowess usually occur around locations where single people go in numbers to socialize. Obviously mix sex and drugs together with a large number of single people and those not getting any of the first and too much of the second will be very frustrated. When you visit an establishment where the ultimate goal of most intoxicated patrons by midnight is to fight or fornicate, your chances of feeling the fight or flight response, a boot or bottle to the head, and even getting arrested is a good one. I practically lived and worked in clubs from age 17 through 28. Avoid them and you avoid 99% of the so called street fights.

The reality of assaults: Real fights are actually assaults. They can and do occur everywhere and at any time. In fact, unlike the scenarios above, statistically most assaults occur near or at your home. There are no stances, deflections, blocks or parries against strikes that come in the form of multiple led projectiles. Knife fights are called assassinations in the real world. The only knife ever involved is the one "suddenly" inside you. Movies would have it that every criminal places a gun at your stomach before making a long drawn out sales pitch or presents and twirls a knife in front of you before lunging in like an Olympic fencer. This is not the case at all. Criminals are scared too and seldom get close until they know you are secured, this at times means shot or dead. The knife is felt and not seen as it often comes from a blind side or from someone other than you are dealing with. Muggers and rapists use stun guns and pepper sprays as well as the ladies they attack. Assaults are predatory by nature and if they do not involve weapons, involve larger numbers, or at the least a much larger or stronger assailant than victim. Against these odds once they occur, no hand to hand martial art stands much of a chance and survival is more in the realm of psychological tactics, luck, and your ability gage the best moment to escape.

The grappling arts imply: "most fights end up on the ground…take them there"
The striking arts imply: "all fights start standing up…keep them there"
The mixed martial arts imply: "any fight can go anywhere…be ready and able to go everywhere" Coast to Coast Crime Statistics state: 10 out of 10 assaults involve a weapon(s), being outnumbered, being physically outclassed or any combination of the above.

Street technique versus Sport Techniques or "Just add dirt" I can hear it now from all the street fighters... "But Luis, what about eye gauges, hair pulling, biting, ripping, pinching, scrotum striking, yanking and smashing, scratching, spitting, foaming at the mouth, growling, breaking bottles, wearing boots, colon control and crapping at will?" Well, what about all that? If you can't even hit a guy with a 16oz. glove how the hell are you going to eye jab him? If you can't keep a guy from putting you on the ground and proceeding to do his best rendition of River Dance on your cranium, how the hell are you going to just kick him in the balls or bite him? And if you indeed are getting punched, kicked, and out grappled by a superior martial artist and you get the bright idea to bite him, what's to stop him then from doing the same if not worse to you…and from a much better vantage point to boot? (Pun intended.) Bottom line…if you build a foundation on movement (timing and awareness in motion) and the attributes necessary to deliver and apply efficient strikes, controls and finishes, you just need to add the foul or dirty tactics. It doesn't work the other way around.

"Be like water…then just add dirt."