As a teenager, I spent years learning how to kick people in the head, and avoid getting whacked in the noggin.
Great exercise, good discipline, all that. But it’s not practical for real life OR the zombie apocalypse, which are the two infallible acid tests on this blog.
Even the best fighters in MMA are crazy careful about kicking high, because it’s high-risk, high-reward. Fighters tend to unload high kicks late in the fight, when their opponent is already reeling, because a fresh enemy will catch your fancy high kick and plant you on your butt, then rain down elbows until the ref pulls them off before your face turns into raw hamburger.
So sure, high kicks look impressive, and they’re great in kickboxing matches where wrestling isn’t allowed. Yet high-kicks are just one example out of 5.83 bazillion why we’ve been doing it wrong when it comes to fighting.
Let’s take an average-sized woman and train her in kung fu and karate since birth. Take her in the prime of her life, in her 20’s at her strongest. I still don’t want a 5’4″ woman weighing 135 pounds taking on 6’3 man who’s 235, no matter how little training he’s had.
Or two men. Or five drunks in a bar, like we see in the movies all the time. Sure, there’s a chance she could wipe the floor with them. Yet even if she’s the UFC middleweight champ, two-on-one is a bad fight.
And no, I’m not saying our hypothetical Super Woman should also dedicate her life to wrestling, Brazillian jiu-jitsu and Thai kickboxing to round things out and turn her into even more of a killing machine.
This is what I’m saying: if it takes a lifetime of training to make it a fair fight between somebody who’s shorter and smaller versus a bigger and untrained opponent, then we’re doing it all kinds of wrong.
Here’s a great fight scene from THE BOURNE IDENTITY, which Matt Damon fighting for his life against an equally skilled opponent. They’re about the same size, too. Take five inches and thirty pounds away from Matt and tell me he wins this fight.
These days I’m taking boxing from Mike, a Marine Recon commando in ‘Nam who’s been studying the sweet science since before I was born. He could whip me in two seconds. Yet as much as I love pounding the heavy bag and making the speed bag blur, it’s not a practical self-defense art for my wife or 11-year-old son. Great for me. Bad for them. It’s pretty unlikely I’ll be getting into scraps with 6’7 dudes who weigh 300, not unless the offensive line of the Seahawks comes to town and I spill beer on all of them while talking smack about their moms and Pete Carroll’s hair.
Tell me boxing will help me against seven dudes who all make me look like I’m in kindergarden.
Now it’s true that mixed martial arts and the UFC are changing things fast. Traditional martial arts that haven’t really been tested against others are being told to put up or shut up. Your stuff works? Show me. Put it in the ring.
Yet MMA isn’t an answer, not for the average person.
A huge part of MMA fighting is going to the ground against a single opponent. It’s true most fights turn into wrestling matches and wind up on the ground. But guess what? Rolling around on the floor with somebody is something you absolutely, positively cannot afford to do in real life, not if your enemy possibly has a buddy within shouting distance.
Standing, two-on-one is bad enough. On the ground, it’s deadly.
Even MMA isn’t street conditions. Fighters wrap and tape their hands to protect themselves. The gloves are to protect their opponents. Despite all this, these highly trained gladiators, the best in the world, often break their hands in fights.
On the street, your wrists won’t be protected by wraps. Your knuckles won’t be cushioned by tape. If you get in a fight and punch somebody right in the face or head as hard as you can, yeah, you’re going to break your hand.
If you’re lucky and don’t break your hand, a smaller person–a woman, a kid, whoever–will typically lose a fist-fight against a taller, heavier opponent.
What do we need instead?