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The thoughts and viewpoints on this blog are my own and represent my skeptical, critical-thinking approach to martial arts, combative training, film, the field of cognitive science, and random subjects.
Updated: 5 hours 47 sec ago

DON'T JUST STAND THERE

Tue, 2015-05-05 14:28
DON'T JUST STAND THEREDo Something
Everybody does it.  I've done it.  You've probably done it too.  Even if you haven't done it yourself, you've probably seen it done.

You know what I'm talking about...the dreaded martial arts self defense demonstration.

In case you've just emerged from your hermit's cave and don't have a clue what I'm talking about, I'll describe it for you:

One guy, let's call him "Our Hero", stands facing 2 or more bad guys.  The bad guys move in usually with a single a punch, a solitary kick, or an exaggerated grab.  In Aikido, 9 times out of 10, it's a karate chop.

Our hero then responds with the three P's:  poise, power and precision.

The bad guys usually just stand there like a statue, getting pommeled and beaten until finally the coup de grâce finishes them off.  Sometimes they will move in one at a time, but occasionally they'll enter en masse and our hero has to add some balletic turns and spins. 

All of this is done in a school auditorium or at a strip mall.

These demonstrations are pre-planned, pre-arranged, and highly choreographed.  When we watch pro wrestling we always complain about the lack of realism, calling it fake, but when we watch a self defense demo doing essentially the same durned thing we respond with applause.

Let me just say, I hate this crap.  It is unrealistic.  It doesn't show the necessity of running and moving.  It doesn't bring in the necessary elements of cheating and dirty fighting.  Bad guys don't wait their turn.  The attack is probably not even going to be coming from the front, or what I call the Full Monty (full frontal attack).  Bad guys don't follow our rules and are not interested in etiquette or fair play.  Attacks are ambushes.  Attacks are sucker punches.  Attacks have the element of surprise.  Attacks give the tactical advantage to the bad guys.  They are unexpected, unprovoked, and unwarranted.

The neat, precise self defense demo may be beautiful to watch, but that's sort of my point...real world violence is anything but.  It's ugly.  It's messy.  It's noisy.  It's bloody, chaotic and sweaty.

It's the CSI dissection, done in a clean, germ-free science lab.  It's all too sterile.

Watch a real fight, and you'll see what I'm talking about. 

My recommendation?  Forget these types of demos.  Don't include them in your curriculum.  Don't even encourage them in your belt/rank testing.  Forget rote memory.  Let go of the concept of precision.  Don't worry about how it looks--focus on whether it works.  Do what more and more people are doing, heck, what Bruce Lee recommended way back in the 60s...put on lots and lots of padding and safety equipment and make it real.

Embrace the chaos.