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Iain Abernethy
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The Rules Paradox

Hi All,

I’m busy putting a podcast together on “banned techniques” and as part of it I want discuss what I’m calling the “rules paradox”.

The Rules Paradox is as follows:

In sports martial arts and in training generally we omit certain techniques because they are deemed “too dangerous”. At first glance this would suggest that omission of dangerous techniques makes a martial art less effective. However, the omission of those techniques permits live practise in a way that is safe and socially acceptable. This live practise develops attributes that ensure the “less dangerous techniques” that remain can be effectively applied. Therefore removing the most dangerous techniques to allow live practise can actually make martial artists more effective.

Of course there is a balance and a scale between the extremes. However, I think it would be safe to say that a person who includes all the banned techniques, but never trains live, will be far less effective than the person who never practises those banned techniques, but who does drill live.

In short, the person who practices live will be able to land their punch, but the person who does not practise live will not have the attributes to land their throat strikes, etc.

Live practise has always been a vital part of my approach to karate and bunkai, and I’m a great believer in including “banned techniques” in a safe way through substitution i.e. grab the belt knot as a replacement for grabbing the groin,  touch just above the eyebrows as a substitute for eye attacks, etc. We should also include strikes, locks, throws, escaping, multiple enemies, weapons, dialogue, protecting others, and so on. I’m sure many here think the same and will have similar ways of ensuring practice can be live, safe and as realistic as practicable.

Taking the above as a given, I’d like to focus on the actual paradox itself as opposed to how we navigate it. So this is my proposal for discussion:

“Martial artist can get more effective, not less effective, when dangerous technique are banned from practise because this permits a safe and socially acceptable form of vigorous live practise”

Thoughts?

All the best,

Iain

Joshua Shrum
Joshua Shrum's picture

Hmm this is a very interesting topic. I think that there are two sides to look at when it comes to banned techniques/altered into a safe format.

The first is in regards to creating muscle memory. I am a firm believer that when you repeat a specific technique multiple times you create muscle memory. I am sure most know what that is, but I'll recap. Muscle memory is when the brain (specifically the cerebellum) create repeat pathways between neurons. These pathways are used so many times that the brain can easily fire "messages" bewteen them without effort. When we train to do somethings a specific way, many times we teach our body that is the way to do it.

A good example is looking at children that play one of Mozarts famous pieces on a piano. The child will play it so many times that the brain will automatically fire neurons in the order needed to play the next note, without the person subconsciously telling the brain to fire it. When these kids do it for so long, they then can carry on conversations while playing the song. Or if you want to get less technical, bike riding is the same. You self correct (lean more to the left/right) to balance while riding without thought.

So when we practice a specific move, altered, are we training our bodies to do that move that way when under stress? Sometimes, in womens self defense seminars I will teach them to take both palms and 'pop' the ears if they are being choked. Now, you can't really do that unless you want to bust an ear drum, so we hit the temple instead.

I think that the second side of this is that you need to address the 'need' for more dangerous techniques. If a women was to slap with their palm as hard as they can on a mans temple will it stun them? Maybe... But if they were to do the same thing to the ear and rupture the ear drum... I think that would logically do more damage. So I think for us to exclude the ear all together, would be naive.

It's a hard balance to accomplish. When push comes to shove, I think that when we ban dangerous techniques we allow people to practice movre dynamic techniques. A martial arts system will become more effective because we may not do that specific move but we at least discuss its application.

Phew...that was a rough one!

Tau
Tau's picture

I've been intending to do a YouTube discussion piece for some time on what methods need to be present for training to be considered truly pragmatic. Of course safety has to a prime concern, lest all our members spend more time in A&E than on the mat!

I came up with three methods:

1. Live practice with set "rules" in the interests of safety and satistying skill objectives

2. Padwork, including dynamic padwork for the practice of effective and accurate power generation

3. Non-live drills in which there are essentially no limits. In a Karate paradigm this typically means kata although as a (primarily) Jujitsuka I don't have kata in my syllabus.

 

It is my oppinion that you can change style emphasis (standing / grounded / long range / close range / unarmed / armed) and still be effective but you must have all of the above for it to stand any chance of being pragmatic.

Is that a fair answer?

Kim
Kim's picture

Iain Abernethy wrote:

Taking the above as a given, I’d like to focus on the actual paradox itself as opposed to how we navigate it. So this is my proposal for discussion:

“Martial artist can get more effective, not less effective, when dangerous technique are banned from practise because this permits a safe and socially acceptable form of vigorous live practise”

I agree.  I think we have a more effective martial art when people are able to practice safely - otherwise your time in the dojo is your most dangerous time, and you'll spend most of your time injured.  I think having a safe way to practice also makes a martial art more accessible to more people.  I think that if it was very dangerous and you risked great injury every time you came to training, then training would only appeal to a very small subset of people (arguably people who might need the self protection training the least).  By making training a safe place to learn to do dangerous things, it becomes more accessible to those who may need it, and therefore, in my opinion, more effective. 

I do think that we need to vary the ways in which we make training safe.  If we always have the same "safety mechanism" on in training, then that becomes our habit, and that will be what comes out under stress.  So I think variation is critical.  Examples might include: alternative "safer" targets (as Iain mentioned), adjusting distance (most of karate sparring - we stop short of contact), impact training where you can practice with full speed and follow through, solo practice in the air (such as kata), and slow motion where anything is on the table (one I don't think we use often enough in martial arts, but allow any targets - eyes, groin, throat, etc - and follow through the target, but in super slow motion so it remains safe).  I think a combination of a variety of safety mechanisms in different drills, as well as making sure that students are aware of the safety mechanism in the drill - and therefore the drills' limitations, allows us to still practice safely and effectively. 

Wastelander
Wastelander's picture

I do think that martial artists become more effective with live practice, but I think substituting dangerous techniques, rather than banning them, is a better option. As you say, though, live practice without dangerous techniques is better than dead practice with dangerous techniques.

Andi Kidd
Andi Kidd's picture

Iain Abernethy wrote:

Taking the above as a given, I’d like to focus on the actual paradox itself as opposed to how we navigate it. So this is my proposal for discussion:

“Martial artist can get more effective, not less effective, when dangerous technique are banned from practise because this permits a safe and socially acceptable form of vigorous live practise”

 

Hi Iain

I can totally see what you are trying to say and I agree with your premise but I am not sure you can put it onto that one statement without too many assumptions and being too vague.

“can get more effective” doesn’t mean that they will.

“can…….,not less effective” doesn’t mean they won’t.

That is assuming that the practice is of a high enough quality and that all of the rest of your post is taken as read, so without many caveats, and understanding the practices that are needed to overcome the problems that this could add, and a knowledge of the problem we face and goals, it is too vague. It assumes a lot of background knowledge and most will not understand it.

It seems to be written in a way that could be taken as slightly controversial. It is coming at a much bigger issue with a soundbite as such. So whilst it may be a good way to start a discussion topic or your podcast, I am not sure it is actually a good summary of the overall method of improvement.

Kim is a woman after my own heart and what she says here, is pretty close to what I think.

Quote:
I do think that we need to vary the ways in which we make training safe.  If we always have the same "safety mechanism" on in training, then that becomes our habit, and that will be what comes out under stress.  So I think variation is critical.  Examples might include: alternative "safer" targets (as Iain mentioned), adjusting distance (most of karate sparring - we stop short of contact), impact training where you can practice with full speed and follow through, solo practice in the air (such as kata), and slow motion where anything is on the table (one I don't think we use often enough in martial arts, but allow any targets - eyes, groin, throat, etc - and follow through the target, but in super slow motion so it remains safe).  I think a combination of a variety of safety mechanisms in different drills, as well as making sure that students are aware of the safety mechanism in the drill - and therefore the drills' limitations, allows us to still practice safely and effectively. 

So I am not saying that you are wrong, I am just saying that you could be wrong if certain language is not used because it will make a less controversial form of discussion.

 

Paul_D
Paul_D's picture

At some point in history these moves must have been effective, otherwise they would not have been included within a system.  They could, at that point, still not be practised "live" and yet were still deemed effective enough (without live paractice ) to be worth including. 

OnlySeisan
OnlySeisan's picture

I can practice hugs faster and harder than I can practice my throat spears. I'll be able to land my hugs more consistently because I train them harder, but in the end hugs are just hugs. I'll count on my poorly trained throat spears more than my well trained hugs.  

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Andi Kidd wrote:
I can totally see what you are trying to say and I agree with your premise but I am not sure you can put it onto that one statement without too many assumptions and being too vague.

It seems to be written in a way that could be taken as slightly controversial. It is coming at a much bigger issue with a soundbite as such. So whilst it may be a good way to start a discussion topic or your podcast, I am not sure it is actually a good summary of the overall method of improvement.

A constant problem when talking about any part of the martial arts is that it's just one part. And you're right that the need for context that we talk about endlessly here needs to be factored in, but I'd like to put such things aside as a given. 

The statement was a conversation starter on an isolated issue; as opposed to a statement of my view without need for further clarification.

So it's not a statement of my views, folks will have to wait for the podcast for that :-)

The point I will be making is that the "banned" techniques are not they key to being effective, and that those who compete in full contact combat sports (judo, Thai-boxing, MMA) will have better developed skills that can make them more effective (assuming an understanding of changing contexts) than those who sometime look down on them because they have rules (seen a bit of that lately so I want to put the other side). 

Of course that does not mean sports are the best solution to self-protection; and I've written about that before (see Thinking like a Criminal podcast for most recent chat on this). However, vigorous live practise can more than compensate for a failure to practise "dirt". That does not mean you should ignore it though, just that ingnoring live practise is more problematic  

There is plenty of nuance to the topic and I'll save my full take for the podcast. It helps getting feedback on a premise though to ensure I cover the topic thoroughly.

Hope that helps explain my motivations :-)

Iain

   
Andi Kidd
Andi Kidd's picture

Iain Abernethy wrote:

Andi Kidd wrote:
I can totally see what you are trying to say and I agree with your premise but I am not sure you can put it onto that one statement without too many assumptions and being too vague.

It seems to be written in a way that could be taken as slightly controversial. It is coming at a much bigger issue with a soundbite as such. So whilst it may be a good way to start a discussion topic or your podcast, I am not sure it is actually a good summary of the overall method of improvement.

A constant problem when talking about any part of the martial arts is that it's just one part. And you're right that the need for context that we talk about endlessly here needs to be factored in, but I'd like to put such things aside as a given. 

The statement was a conversation starter on an isolated issue; as opposed to a statement of my view without need for further clarification.

So it's not a statement of my views, folks will have to wait for the podcast for that :-)

I guessed this and knowing you expected that was your answer. As a conversation starter it is fine although it could trigger a few monkey reactions!

Quote:
The point I will be making is that the "banned" techniques are not they key to being effective, and that those who compete in full contact combat sports (judo, Thai-boxing, MMA) will have better developed skills that can make them more effective (assuming an understanding of changing contexts) than those who sometime look down on them because they have rules (seen a bit of that lately so I want to put the other side). 

Of course that does not mean sports are the best solution to self-protection; and I've written about that before (see Thinking like a Criminal podcast for most recent chat on this). However, vigorous live practise can more than compensate for a failure to practise "dirt". That does not mean you should ignore it though, just that ingnoring live practise is more problematic  

There is plenty of nuance to the topic and I'll save my full take for the podcast. It helps getting feedback on a premise though to ensure I cover the topic thoroughly.

Hope that helps explain my motivations :-)

Iain

I can see this and makes sense. As with most things, either extreme is too much and a balance must be sought. No experience with either means you are lacking something in your training.

Context is king and that must be understood for either method to have any effectiveness at all.

Looking forward to the podcast!

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Andi Kidd wrote:
I guessed this and knowing you expected that was your answer. As a conversation starter it is fine although it could trigger a few monkey reactions!

Just what I’m after! If flushes out potential “hot spots” which I can then be sure I’ve addressed in the podcast. I like to be through so it’s not unusual for me to float something like this to ensure I’ve not missed anything. All part of the “podcast process” :-)

And to be fair, I always get negative feedback from people who have totally missed the point anyway. My favourite was the “typical traditional martial artist” stuff I got when I did my “In Defence of Combats Sports” podcast … which some people thought was anti-combat sports! The clue should be the title :-) They even took the criticisms of combat sports that I had listed as having NO MERIT, and listed them online as if I was putting them forward as legitimate. I can’t win :-)

So I’m confident that with this one there will be folks on both sides of the debate who take a “tribal” position instead of listening to the nuance of my actual position. It’s unavoidable.

Andi Kidd wrote:
I can see this and makes sense. As with most things, either extreme is too much and a balance must be sought. No experience with either means you are lacking something in your training.

I fully agree. However, if we stick to the extremes, the guy with lots of live experience will be leagues better than the person who works “eye pokes” etc but never trains live.

I’ve a few points I want to make in the podcast, one of which is that the claim that MMA guys, Boxers, etc will be “ineffective in the street” because they don’t practise throat punches, groin shots, etc is nonsense. They will be infinitely more devastating with their totally legal right cross because they have the mental and physical attributes to function under pressure, and will have the timing and accuracy to land a powerful punch on the move.

They guy who never trains live will be far less effective because they probably won’t be able to land their “illegal” methods irrespective of how effective they could be.

So it is a case of “credit where it’s due” and acknowledging that banned techniques are not the holy grail of street effectiveness that they are frequently portrayed as. Indeed, in many cases the legal techniques can be more damaging than the banned ones (another point I want to make). For example, I’d rather have my finger bent back (illegal) that take a full power hook to the head (totally allowed).

Andi Kidd wrote:
Context is king and that must be understood for either method to have any effectiveness at all.

Absolutely. We can’t apply a “one-on-one fighting” solution to criminal violence and expect it to work. It will be tactically and legally very problematic. However, trying to apply non-dynamic training in a highly dynamic environment also won’t work. As you say, we need both and context specific live prastise is the answer.

Andi Kidd wrote:
Looking forward to the podcast!

Thank you! I had hoped to get it done this week, but things have popped up. Hopefully next week :-)

All the best,

Iain

Andi Kidd
Andi Kidd's picture

Iain Abernethy wrote:

And to be fair, I always get negative feedback from people who have totally missed the point anyway. My favourite was the “typical traditional martial artist” stuff I got when I did my “In Defence of Combats Sports” podcast … which some people thought was anti-combat sports! The clue should be the title :-) They even took the criticisms of combat sports that I had listed as having NO MERIT, and listed them online as if I was putting them forward as legitimate. I can’t win :-)

If you please everyone then I think you are being too vague or bland to be saying anything at all. Plus, as you say, people go into tribal positions (and we all have to keep a check on this ourselves – pragmatic tribe) rather than listening to the actual argument.

There was a questionnaire before the last election (UK) that stated policies with no name of the political party. You answered which you liked best and then it showed which party you were most aligned to. Lots of people seemed surprised. I am sure using this method many of the above people would be agreeing with at least some of your points!

Quote:
I’ve a few points I want to make in the podcast, one of which is that the claim that MMA guys, Boxers, etc will be “ineffective in the street” because they don’t practise throat punches, groin shots, etc is nonsense…………..

Absolutely. We can’t apply a “one-on-one fighting” solution to criminal violence and expect it to work. It will be tactically and legally very problematic.

I would agree that sports fighters aren’t made ineffective in the street, they just need to reframe training to take in the correct context. Context being a small word that spans so much!

I’ll be interested to hear this!

Cheers mate

Andi

Tau
Tau's picture

Iain Abernethy wrote:

And to be fair, I always get negative feedback from people who have totally missed the point anyway. My favourite was the “typical traditional martial artist” stuff I got when I did my “In Defence of Combats Sports” podcast … which some people thought was anti-combat sports! The clue should be the title :-) They even took the criticisms of combat sports that I had listed as having NO MERIT, and listed them online as if I was putting them forward as legitimate. I can’t win :-)

So I’m confident that with this one there will be folks on both sides of the debate who take a “tribal” position instead of listening to the nuance of my actual

You can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time....

 

Iain Abernethy wrote:

I’ve a few points I want to make in the podcast, one of which is that the claim that MMA guys, Boxers, etc will be “ineffective in the street” because they don’t practise throat punches, groin shots, etc is nonsense. They will be infinitely more devastating with their totally legal right cross because they have the mental and physical attributes to function under pressure, and will have the timing and accuracy to land a powerful punch on the move.

They guy who never trains live will be far less effective because they probably won’t be able to land their “illegal” methods irrespective of how effective they could be.

So it is a case of “credit where it’s due” and acknowledging that banned techniques are not the holy grail of street effectiveness that they are frequently portrayed as. Indeed, in many cases the legal techniques can be more damaging than the banned ones (another point I want to make). For example, I’d rather have my finger bent back (illegal) that take a full power hook to the head (totally allowed).

Ah right. Now I better understand your objective. So should we looking at the relative merits of "banned" techniques? Because I've long since argued the relative ineffectiveness of things like eye gouges. Trust me, I treat eye injuries most days! And then there's the fallacy of "I don't need Martial Arts, I'll just kick 'em in the groin." Both feature in my repertoire but only as part of a bigger system underpinned by sound fundamentals. And we do train power groin kicks on focus mitts, not on each other which comes back to my point previously about the three methods that I feel must be in place.

JWT
JWT's picture

Iain Abernethy wrote:

“Martial artist can get more effective, not less effective, when dangerous technique are banned from practise because this permits a safe and socially acceptable form of vigorous live practise”

A good premise.  Here is another: "i before e, except after c". Familiar? Useful? Certainly, up to a point. Unfortunately while being incredibly useful, it is a rule with many exceptions. We get into the same issues when it comes to discussing training methodologies. All training represents some form of compromise, and so long as we are aware of the compromises we are making we can hopefully mix methodologies to minimise their effect and the effectiveness of our training for its intended purpose.

We get good at what we train for. If we can't practice it, we can't get good at it. If we can't test it (in as close to 'live' circumstances as possible) then we cannot be sure that either

  • a) it works or
  • b) we can use it.

In the words of Dave Grossman from his excellent On Combat (page 73)

“Do not expect the combat fairy to come bonk you with the combat wand and suddenly make you capable of doing things that you never rehearsed before.  It will not happen” 

With this in mind, you need to be able to practice your repertoire. In that respect a lot of the 'sport' arts score highly, as do their training methods. Now there is an argument, an 'i before e' exception, that throat strikes or groin kicks use an existing skill set and thus while they might not be trained full power against a person in class, the full power use of those strikes on other 'active' targets or on pads prepares you for their use. With regard to the throat the biggest stumbling block is not one of efficacy, or of technical ability, but of the psychological attributes required. There is the good argument that generally if you can hit the throat you can hit the jaw, and personally I only do so for one very particular scenario where the need for lethal force is necessary and the range is right, and the target is more likely to be accessible. Because this cannot be trained live (we've tried it with protective equipment and it is still too high risk IMO) we have to rely on the compromise of using the same strike on pads under pressure and doing it static and pulled with a partner. With regard to the groin I've seen it used effectively (it's not a banned target in my scenario training), but often full power hits do not incapacitate due to angle and adrenaline. It's not socially acceptable in normal training and it's not so effective as to make it hugely viable.

With regard to the 'too deadly to train' eye gouges... here we hit bigger problems. You can't really train them (unless you have an attacking  robot with cherry tomato eyes), most people are not psychologically able to do them, and (as someone who's had a finger in the eye) it isn't as effective or easy as many people think. So we have something that is 'mentally' difficult to do, socially inappropriate and dangerous to practise (due to infection or accidental success) and of dubious effectiveness.  

So the argument to work on a repertoire that you can train is very strong. Not only should you be able to train it but you need to be able to do it in dynamic conditions and where possible in unpredictable pressurised training. I regularly see another MA club that teaches a style that enjoys a self publicised reputation for self defence effectiveness teach static stuff that I know will fail under pressure because I've tested most of what they are teaching. They would regard a lot of what they do as 'too deadly to train' and if they could land their strikes it might be, but first they need to be able to defend against an attack with intent and because they aren't practicing a lot of very specific attacks under pressure. Here the 'rule' holds true.  

So what is our 'i before e' exception? Well it comes down to the words effective and dangerous. Focusing on doing what you can practice safely will give you the optimum chance to be effective - but at doing those things. The caveats are what are you trying to be effective for and what is your definition of dangerous?  Archilochus (c650 BC) wrote that 

“We do not rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” 

As Iain, myself and many others have pointed out on this forum, there is a difference between the mental and physical framework and dynamics of violent self defence situations and those of the combat sports. We come back again to the Grossman quotation earlier. You have to rehearse things. Training techniques and limiting yourself to techniques that you can train and test will make you more effective, but effective for what depends on the situations (and attacks) for which you train them. Context, as always, is king.  What is too dangerous?

We know that we shouldn't deliberately break our training partners' bones in practise or do techniques that run that risk. That still leaves us with a huge range of very effective strikes, throws and holds. Ultimately breaking someone's bones can be easy or difficult depending on positioning, but getting to those positions without pressurised training experience is seldom easy, and the damage caused often isn't legally justifiable even in non competitive situations especially when they are easier (physically and psychologically), trainable and less permanent options available in most positions.

More and more evidence is continually emerging that impact to the head is not good for us and generally speaking turning up to work with a bruised face is not socially acceptible. Some martial arts get round this by having rule sets which prohibit head strikes, which is great, but turning back again to context any martial art that wants to make a claim for self defence must spend a lot of time defending against attacks to the head (which are indicated by emergency department data to be the predominant injury caused by violent crime). So here we have to make tough calls on how we determine 'safe', 'socially acceptable' and 'dangerous'. 

All the best

John Titchen

 

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Tau wrote:
Ah right. Now I better understand your objective. So should we looking at the relative merits of "banned" techniques? Because I've long since argued the relative ineffectiveness of things like eye gouges. Trust me, I treat eye injuries most days! And then there's the fallacy of "I don't need Martial Arts, I'll just kick 'em in the groin." Both feature in my repertoire but only as part of a bigger system underpinned by sound fundamentals.

Cat now out of bag :-) Yeah, that the direction I’m going. These “banned super methods which render all else redundant” are a myth. The techniques which are banned are largely less effective than those that are allowed … but the banned methods don’t take much skill to apply, and they can’t be totally ignored, so they should still be part of self-protection training. Live practise makes one far more effective than a reliance on banned techniques; and the more intense that live practise, the more effective the martial artist will be.

As others have pointed out, we need intelligent compromises for safety and so our martial arts training can fit in with our wider life. However, pro martial athletes are training with a level of intensity that is neither possible nor suitable for most others. It is therefore a ridiculous claim that MMA fighters won’t be able to protect themselves physically because they “fight with rules”. Of course there needs to be an understanding of context and shifting objectives – and facing self-defence as a “fight” can have big tactical and legal problems – but if we take that as understood, those who train live (in an intense way) will be many, many times more effective than those who rely on “banned methods” which are “too dangerous to train live”.

All that said, training in MMA for self-defence is also flawed because it is a highly effective one-on-one fighting method within a specific framework. A “fighting solution” to the problem of criminal violence – no matter how effective on its own terms – is not good because it ignores the importance of things like good personal security, legalities, de-escalation, escape skills, etc.

I hope I am able to get these nuanced points across – that I see as neither “pro” or “anti” anything but merely factual statements – without listeners jumping to their preferred tribal position.  

All the best,

Iain

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Brilliant post John. Totally agree.

JWT
JWT's picture

Iain Abernethy wrote:

Brilliant post John. Totally agree.

Cheers Iain. It is a comforting delusion that MMA 'is not as good as' (insert TMA name here) because of its rules and restrictions. It can let us off the hook as to confronting the issue as to why so many MMA students become so fit and capable (compared to a lot of TMA participants) in a shorter period of time. Rather than resting on imaginary laurels, as I know you have said yourself, we need to see what we can learn from this just as MMA has continually  learned and developed from TMA. Now there are innumerable variables affecting this equation (not least the physical and mental  intake demographics of each) but their approach of sticking to what can be practiced (and tested) is one that works!

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

JWT wrote:
MMA has continually  learned and developed from TMA ... but their approach of sticking to what can be practiced (and tested) is one that works!

Yep!

MMA is objective driven, it tests everything, it is happy to innovate (function ahead of dogma), and it understands the development of mental and physical attributes.

http://iainabernethy.co.uk/article/what-tma-can-learn-mma

If traditional arts do the same – and they should because that traditional in the true sense of the word – then we get something that is as effective as possible and will also cover the needs and objectives of the wider population.

All the best,

Iain

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

It took longer than anticipated, but the podcast that includes the “rules paradox” is now live: http://iainabernethy.co.uk/content/banned-methods

Marc
Marc's picture

And once again, a great podcast, Iain.

I really like how you first go and categorise the banned techniques to focus on those that are actually banned for safety reasons, as opposed to e.g. other techniques that are only banned to keep the sports fight going and therefore interesting for the audience.

Thanks, Marc  

Marc
Marc's picture

The kumite rules of the World Karate Federation (see p. 13) list several banned techniques. Apart from those mentioned in the podcast, they do list: a) All strikes with elbows or knees (even if only simulated!). b) Attacking the joints. Both are obviously banned for safety reasons.

According to Wikipedia "Elbowing is a disallowed practice in most combat sports. However, Muay Thai, Pradal serey and several mixed martial arts (MMA) organizations do allow elbowing, or allow elbowing in a specific manner." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elbow_(strike)) The same goes for Knee strikes: "Kneeing is a disallowed practice in many combat sports, especially to the head of a downed opponent. Styles such as Muay Thai and several mixed martial arts organizations allow kneeing depending on the positioning of the fighters." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knee_(strike))

So if we are discussing not only MMA and Muay Thai, then we should include elbow and knee strikes in our analysis. - I would think they would be very effective weapons in self-defence.

I don't know whether attacks to joints (think a kick into the knee joint) are legal in MMA or other systems, but I would think they might be effective self-defence techniques if the opportunity presents itself. I'm not talking about joint locks which are legal in many systems but attacks with the intent to actually injure a joint.

What are your thoughts on these two classes of banned techniques in the context of the rules paradox?

Take care

Marc  

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Marc wrote:
And once again, a great podcast, Iain.

Thank you!

Marc wrote:
I really like how you first go and categorise the banned techniques to focus on those that are actually banned for safety reasons, as opposed to e.g. other techniques that are only banned to keep the sports fight going and therefore interesting for the audience.

Marc wrote:
The kumite rules of the World Karate Federation (see p. 13) list several banned techniques. Apart from those mentioned in the podcast, they do list: a) All strikes with elbows or knees (even if only simulated!). b) Attacking the joints. Both are obviously banned for safety reasons.

Combat sports like BBJ, Judo, Submission Wrestling, MMA, etc all permit attacks to the joints and it can be done safely.

Elbows are less widely permitted (banned from points karate, boxing, kick boxing, etc) but they are permitted in MMA, Thai-Boxing, Kudo, etc.

Because points karate is looking for a certain type of fight, I would say the banning of the joint attacks is more to with sculpting the right kind of fight (striking not grappling). You could argue that kicking the knees is also an “attack to the joint”, but the legs are not allowed to be struck at all anyway.

Points karate bans head butts, elbows and knees these days, but it did allow them in the past (along with throat strikes too so long as contact was not made). Elbows can be powerful strikes and the fact they are not padded adds to that … but in points karate control is required anyway … and kicking with bare feet was permitted. So I would again say this is trying to get the right kind of fight – one that suits the pre-existing skill set of that stripe of karateka – as opposed to primarily being safety focused. We spar allowing elbows etc all the time and done right it is very safe. With control there is no reason they could not be included in karate competition; as they were in the past.

Marc wrote:
What are your thoughts on these two classes of banned techniques in the context of the rules paradox?

I think it only applies to techniques that are universally banned for safety i.e. attacks to eyes, biting, etc. Methods banned to “sculpt” – which are utilised in an entirely safe way in other competitive formats – are not part of the paradox. For example, we can’t say that judo is more effective because it has entirely banned strikes, or that boxing is more effective because it has entirely banned throws, etc. If we follow that path we soon have no techniques left!

What we can say is that live practise is a must. And for the live practise to be safe and socially acceptable we need to make some compromises to safety. And that in making those compromises we can develop attributes that are more effective that the methods we have omitted to permit live practise. That’s the paradox. It does not really apply to methods “banned to sculpt” though.

All the best,

Iain

Marc
Marc's picture

Iain Abernethy wrote:

Marc wrote:
The kumite rules of the World Karate Federation (see p. 13) list several banned techniques. Apart from those mentioned in the podcast, they do list: a) All strikes with elbows or knees (even if only simulated!). b) Attacking the joints. Both are obviously banned for safety reasons.

Combat sports like BBJ, Judo, Submission Wrestling, MMA, etc all permit attacks to the joints and it can be done safely.

Elbows are less widely permitted (banned from points karate, boxing, kick boxing, etc) but they are permitted in MMA, Thai-Boxing, Kudo, etc.

Because points karate is looking for a certain type of fight, I would say the banning of the joint attacks is more to with sculpting the right kind of fight (striking not grappling).

Ah, I see. That makes sense.

Iain Abernethy wrote:

Marc wrote:
What are your thoughts on these two classes of banned techniques in the context of the rules paradox?

I think it only applies to techniques that are universally banned for safety i.e. attacks to eyes, biting, etc. Methods banned to “sculpt” – which are utilised in an entirely safe way in other competitive formats – are not part of the paradox. For example, we can’t say that judo is more effective because it has entirely banned strikes, or that boxing is more effective because it has entirely banned throws, etc.

[...]

What we can say is that live practise is a must. And for the live practise to be safe and socially acceptable we need to make some compromises to safety. And that in making those compromises we can develop attributes that are more effective than the methods we have omitted to permit live practise. That’s the paradox. It does not really apply to methods “banned to sculpt” though.

I agree.

OK, so the rules paradox is not simply about becoming very effective in any selected skill set by devoting all your training time to it while omitting other skills from training.

Instead it is about omitting a well defined class of dangerous techniques from live training to keep it safe so that what remains can be trained to a very effective level.

The techniques we would omit

- can be instant fight stoppers but are not guaranteed to be

- are workable rather intuitively without much refinement

- cannot safely be incorporated as they are into competition formats or live sparring, so cannot actually be pressure tested by civilised people.

The techniques we would keep

- have a good chance of being effective when applied with full commitment

- can be optimised by constant refinement

- can be pressure tested in a safe way through live sparring or competition without doing too much harm to your partner.

Is that categorisation about correct?

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Marc wrote:
OK, so the rules paradox is not simply about becoming very effective in any selected skill set by devoting all your training time to it while omitting other skills from training.

Instead it is about omitting a well defined class of dangerous techniques from live training to keep it safe so that what remains can be trained to a very effective level.

The techniques we would omit

- can be instant fight stoppers but are not guaranteed to be

- are workable rather intuitively without much refinement

- cannot safely be incorporated as they are into competition formats or live sparring, so cannot actually be pressure tested by civilised people.

The techniques we would keep

- have a good chance of being effective when applied with full commitment

- can be optimised by constant refinement

- can be pressure tested in a safe way through live sparring or competition without doing too much harm to your partner.

Is that categorisation about correct?

I'm impressed! That's a brilliant and very susinct summary. Yes, that's exactly it.

All the best,

Iain