Tuesday, 29 March 2011
A really common problem in martial arts training is to assume that everybody else practices that same martial art. Let me explain what I mean by that... Boxers spend 99.9% of their time learning how to fight other boxers. Wrestlers train to attack with, and defend against, wrestling techniques. And Wing Chun kung fu practitioners mostly spar - you guessed it - with other Wing Chun practitioners. If your goal is to compete then training this way makes a certain amount of sense. There's not much point for a pro-boxer to use valuable training time honing his ability to sprawl against a double leg takedown, or defend a Muay Thai knee strike. But what about self defense? Nobody's obliged to stay within a certain set of parameters on the street, and completely ignoring certain common scenarios in training could lead to a very bad outcome in a real life self defense situation! Let's take a look at just one example of how this applies in BJJ: consider the garden variety schoolyard headlock. This is a super common low-tech attack. Youll even see this move happening repeatedly in less experienced grappling matches, amateur MMA events and even people with Judo and certain wrestling back-grounds will use the position to control and strike or as a throw and control position. This weekends UFC Fight Night saw Anthony Johnson controlling and trying to neck crank Dan Hardy with a headlock on the ground. (see picture at top of this post.) The head is a great big prize on the top of the body. When fists start flying, the temptation to grab ahold of it and start feeding punches to the other guy's face can be almost irresistible for some people. As a grappling position, the headlock has pretty much been discarded from the BJJ repertoire. Most jiu-jitsu teachers feel that clamping a headlock down on someone exposes your own back too much. I was lucky that my start in BJJ was basic basic basic old school Gracie Jiu-jitsu heavy with the original self defense program. I remember at the time thinking wow, this stuff is great and so practical! But then with time I started getting more and more into "grappling" and started negelecting this aspect of Jiu-jitsu. A lot of the clubs Ive been trained at, all really great Jiu-jitsu (or should that be grappling?) clubs never even touch on the self-defense programme anymore as everyone focuses on grappling tournaments against other Jiu-jitsu ("sport grapplers") and learning the latest slick 1/2 guard sweep or spider guard arm wrap with collar into roll over sweep for 2 points. Im not sure many people will ever face the threat of having to face a drunken attacker or home intruder who will attack them with their latest spider guard technique! Im not saying dont continue to learn and add to your positions. Definately stay abreast with new developements in the art to add to your game-plan or at least to know how to defend against it in a grappling match or competition but dont negelct the basics of which I believe the self-defense programme is a very important part. The techniques are definately not outdated-If Dan Hardy knew some of the head-lock counters in addition to his rubber guard attempts it may have helped. The self-defense programme isnt outdated 1925 technique, as the fights on Saturday 26th March, 2011, showed. The danger is that if you don't encounter a certain position on the mats then you're not going to get very much experience at defending against that position. So even if you don't use the headlock as an attack yourself, you still need to know how to defend against it.