There is a reason that both wrestling and boxing are likely the two oldest forms of martial arts on this planet. Simply, they tend to work with evolution not against it. Unless you encounter an alien with four arms, and four legs, along with a completely different physiology, all humans respond to interpersonal violence in very much the same way. Yet nowhere does the human species try to ‘escape’ evolution than in the world of reality based self defence and traditional forms of martial arts. Martial arts in general has been a hodge podge of pseudoscience, mysticism and delusion. I think the reasons are varied, but often it arises out of being insular in the stuff you teach, in other words, you do so in your own environment, with your own people, within the parameters of your own style — so you can set up the experience to look good and where you can always win. Secondly, the vast majority of people teaching martial arts, have never actually fought, either in combat sports, in hard all out sparring and or out on the streets. If you don’t have those two domains as your litmus test of the truth, you can pretty much convince yourself (and others of the same) about almost anything — yes that a fight will go down exactly as it is shown in a Jason Bourne movie.
While Mixed Martial Arts is not ‘street fighting’ (as so many RBSD pundits like to point out) there is a very good reason you see the disciplines presented in MMA as they are. Boxing and wrestling or two of the main staples, not because that’s what you use in MMA, but rather, that’s what will come out when someone needs to ACTUALLY fight. Of course, some changes need be made, and taken into consideration when applying those movement patterns to the street, but if one look’s beyond this, it is painfully obvious that the human body responds to interpersonal danger in much the same way it would in a cage, as it would on the unforgiving streets of Johannesburg.
The reason people want to fight this evolutionary fact has very little to do with truth in combat, but rather fear of loosing face. You see, if you have to actually perform, in other words, get on the mat, or wherever you train, and test for real what you do against a resisting uncooperative opponent, much of what you have told yourself, and much of what you have told others will now have to be proven. That is a mighty scary proposition for most in the world of martial arts. There is a reason, that 99% of what is touted in the martial arts world doesn’t show up in MMA (or other REAL combat sports), because it simply doesn’t fucking work. I still don’t get why anyone feels it necessary to continue to both delude themselves, and lie to those they teach. Unless, unless, unless of course, it has nothing to do with truth in combat, but rather a big, massive, unapologetic ego trip, where having people look up to you as the fountain of ALL self-defence mastery is a big, massive injection to your fragile low self esteem. Lets get real here for a second too, just because you add a word in like Reality, Combatives etc al, into what you do, doesn’t automagically make what you do REAL either.
Our Evolutionary Imperative
Evolution has designed you and me to survive. If it did a really bad job at it, I wouldn’t be writing this, and you wouldn’t be reading this — because both of us would be extinct. Evolution didn’t design you or me to win in interpersonal violence with mystical chi energy, where without even touching a person you can stop them in their tracks. Evolution didn’t allow us to survive buy simulating your bad ass moves against an opponent who doesn’t fight back. Evolution didn’t design the human species to fight like a praying mantis. What evolution did give us are the tools to punch people really hard in the face.
As crude as this sounds, there is nothing beautiful or artistic about a street fight, and there never will be. No one who is sane willingly puts themselves in harms way, but when life throws one of those curve balls that forces a person to go hands on against another human being, evolution will step in to help.
It may seem like I am making the case that evolutionary defence is all we need – no training required. This is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that we have all evolved to survive. When faced with a threat, your flight and fight response kicks in, and you can instantly feel your biology change in your body. But here is the thing, evolution doesn’t really discriminate, and mostly doesn’t care if I or you survive. What it does care about is giving all of us the necessary survival instincts that will see enough of our species through by procreation.
Here is an example. It is not uncommon in interpersonal violence when overwhelmed or caught off guard for a person to turn their back to the threat. Turning ones back, not only saves the operating system (i.e., your head) but it’s a precursor to running. Just a little over 10,000 years ago, a hunter gatherer faced with a threat of a Lion, would turn tail, run, and hope there was a tree nearby to climb. That instinctive reaction could, and can be a life saver. All you need is 1 out of 10 people faced with that situation to make it to the tree safely, and the human lineage can continue. That’s what I meant by evolution doesn’t discriminate. Nine people running from a Lion may not make it, but one will. So turning your back and running from a threat, may only work 1 out of 10 times, but it works enough to continue the species.
The problem of course is if you are part of that nine that got eaten up. This is where martial training comes in. If you can effectively learn how to defend yourself from threats, you can then turn the tide on evolution, and instead use it to your advantage, in a way that allows you to win. I would argue this was likely why martial systems evolved in the first place.
If you take an evolutionary approach (not a cultural, or style influenced one) to your self-preservation training, then you can be honest about how you will likely react, and what would be the best response. Here’s an example:
Someone throws a barrage of punches at your head: Do you a) Go into a praying mantis posture to survive the onslaught, or do you b) pick up your hands to protect your head (more like a cover response)? Well, unless you trained in praying mantis, pretty much everyone on planet Earth would pick up their hands and attempt to protect their head (the operating system). We all know that if you hit someone hard enough in the head, and switch it off, you win. What does that tell you? Protecting your head in a fight, and knowing how to is imperative. It shouldn’t be an after thought, it should take priority.
When I created both the Hunchback fighting platform, and Crazy Monkey Defence this was my thinking process. Through my years working the door, it didn’t take long to figure out that 99% of the time, when people got into fights, they tried to hit each other in the head (remember it’s the operating system, switch it off, and you win). I could quit easily surmise (and I have Youtube to back me up) that I could go to far flung regions of this planet and you will find a similar thing unfold when people get into fights. So I set myself the task to try and eliminate much of this threat as possible. Essentially I took the evolutionary response of picking up ones hands to protect your head when someone is striking at it, and made it into a robust defensive system that could ride that incoming storm. What happens now? Instead of then going to stage two of that evolutionary response and turning ones back (but you now find yourself stuck in a room and there is no tree to run too) you are able to use that evolutionary defensive response to your benefit, by being able to face the fire so to speak (riding the storm of incoming attacks). You didn’t override evolution, you worked with evolution not against it.