May 8, 2016 rodneyking

Positioning Crazy Monkey: Who Is It For?

There is an untold number of martial art programs on the market. Each with its own take on how things should be done. The natural question is, “What makes Crazy Monkey different?” It’s a valid question, but a loaded one. Everyone in the martial art world, especially those with thoughts on how their knowledge should be deployed, believe that they are right. To then write about an us versus them approach is stepping into a quagmire you can never win. That’s why in my opinion it’s better just to state my own position on why and how we do things in Crazy Monkey. Those who have experience in other ‘systems’ can then make up their own ‘us versus them’ analysis, and those who know nothing about other martial ‘systems’ can decide if what I write makes any sense (or not). In each case, it is still up to the individual to decide if he or she wants to immerse themselves in a particular approach of martial arts.

When I think of Crazy Monkey Defence, it evolved on two fronts. Firstly, it arose out of my own research in finding a more functional, realistic approach to deploying defensive tactics on the street. While I had a background in interpersonal violence ever since I was a child, it wasn’t until I entered the world of ‘bouncing’ at age 20, that the reality of fighting really hit home. It was very clear within the first week that this was going to be a whole different ball game. The threat of multiple opponents, and weapons, were ever present. What was neatly packaged in the dojo, was clearly not up to the chaotic, unpredictable nature of the street. Like it or not, I had little choice to relook at everything I was training, and how I viewed street fighting – by going back to the ‘lab’ and addressing those gaps in my game.

Secondly, as my reputation grew, more and more people sought me out to train with me. While I live in one of the most violent countries in the world, South Africa, it was clear that most people coming into my gym had no real experience of interpersonal violence outside of a few push and shove incidents, or uneventful fights on the playground at school. While I am over simplifying it to make a point, the point is, that most people coming to train with me were largely unlikely to get into street fights on a regular basis. As such, it was clear (and still to this day when teaching) that many of these people had lost touch with their primal nature. Secondly to this, time was prime real estate. On average (and even to this day) most people who come into my gym train at most 2-hours a week. Any more than that, and I would consider them seriously dedicated students. Yet even so, they wanted (and still want) an approach to learning how to figh that is easily digestible, and that they themselves can see improvement in weekly.

This second task has always been a tricky one. I have tried as best as I can to distill the science of the fight to its absolute bare components, the absolute must of what you should know – all while remembering that I am going to have to teach this in 2-hours a week. In training I always talk about probabilities versus possibilities. For example it’s more probable you will win most street altercations with a good level of street boxing, while its possible you could win those fights with a head kick. This doesn’t negate kicking someone with a high kick to the head, but if you only training 2-hours a week, and noting how long it takes to get really good at high kicks — it then makes no practical sense to spend the only 2-hours you have training that skill if your intention is to be able to survive a street altercation.

This approach then shifts over to attributes. I have been noted as saying that I try to teach a non-attribute approach to fighting. But even here, things get misunderstood (even among those who have trained with me). I have never once said attributes are not important, or you shouldn’t develop them or if you have them don’t use them — but lets look closer at my argument. An attribute can be defined as “a quality or feature regarded as a characteristic or inherent part of someone or something”. Back to my position earlier about most people coming to train with me, who have in a sense lost their primal nature. In other words they will likely be missing both physical and inner attributes that are necessary to win fights. This means, the approach they are then exposed to, that is meant to teach them how to fight, must allow for (at least initially) for the absence of these characteristic or inherent attributes (which of course will become increasingly important as time goes on in their training). Of course winning a fight requires fitness, speed, timing, strength, grit, tenacity, resilience and an overall mental fortitude of commitment to winning — but to expect the average guy who spends 8 hours a day in a cubicle in a bank to have that on day one when he enters the gym is a ridiculous position to have. He or she has to start somewhere, and it won’t be as an unstoppable warrior on day 1. Over time they could be. But at the same time, time dedicated to the craft will always limit how good someone can really become.

Which brings me back to my time on the street as a doorman. Setting up Crazy Monkey Defense in this way: firstly ensuring a more refined, practical approach to dealing with interpersonal violence, and then secondly finding the best way to teach this to people with limited exposure to street violence in 2-hours a week — had an unintended consequence. In teaching others this methodology, invariably made me better as a doorman. With the reality of the fight stripped down to its core essential ingredients, allowed me to apply my ‘attributes’ more efficiently, and more effectively. When you have a framework built on the premise that anyone, regardless of attributes should be able to learn the ‘method’ it creates a functional platform for those attributes necessary to win fights, to be nurtured and developed as the person’s game improves. If I took the opposite approach and suggested from day one that everything I taught was both built off, and deployed from fitness, speed, timing, strength, grit, tenacity, resilience and an overall mental fortitude of commitment to winning — that would exclude 99,9% of everyone who walks into my studio door. Imagine I was a basketball coach, but expecting everyone to be at the attribute level of Michael Jordan from day one, most then would simply quit the game. I have seen people come into my gym who are so far from the ‘Michael Jordaness’ of unarmed combatives that you can get, but then become the Michael Jordan of the fight given the approach we take.

In the end, Crazy Monkey Defense approaches the fight from probabilities not possibilities. It is a system designed to allow the everyday guy and woman to learn a real, dynamic, functional martial skill set. It is a system that if taught to current warriors (for example special force operators) will allow them to become unstoppable on the battlefield, because it will teach them how to deploy their already high level of attributes in the most efficient, dynamic, and fight stopping way. In my opinion it’s a winning recipe for all.

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