What we hear often in combat sports is that some minor detail will totally change the outcome of a fight, and so then the entire sport must be useless. This is the “you cant tap out on the street” crowd. Politely speaking, fuck those guys. All I hear is that they never train so hard that real injury and risk is present, or that they never push to a place where they cannot continue and so they don’t need a safety valve. Anyone who taps out on a regular basis can tell you, this is the surest way to get tougher, this is the antifragility in the system. No one keeps their hands up until they get punched in the face.
I’m not going to exhaust myself dispelling every absurd statement I’ve heard in this regard, especially when my good friend and coach Cecil Burch does such an excellent job of this. I’d like to take some time to discuss some of the modifications we do need to make, and why.
Having said that, there are some changes we need to make to our base MMA skills as we learn to apply our martial arts to real world concerns. One of the first we come across is a distinct paradigm shift in our grappling with a emphasis on hand control. Its the hands that bring weapons to bear, that grab a bottle off the bar or a brick off the ground. Its the hand reaching into that waistband that comes out with a steak knife or handgun. Its the hands that kill.
I’m not saying head control is bad, or we need to delete it from our grappling. What I am saying is that I have only two hands, and so if I have one on his head that likely leaves one of his free unless I have otherwise tied them both up. This is a small change that has huge effects.
The foundation is the same, the strongest part of our combative approach is the base. Posture, pressure, position. Sensitivity to balance and aggression are not items we build by watching youtube videos or contemplating really hard. This foundation can be built, and built strong, at a decent gym with a good instructor and training partners. People are doing it every day.
What we need to do is work on that 5% change. That part that brings on a sense of urgency when we lose track of a hand or gets us moving behind the engine block as we are setting up for our shot. Its a simple proposition really. Take the base skills, apply competitive pressure within a contextually sound model, and expose the holes. Take two experienced grappler’s , and have them fight over a nok knife. Pressure exposes the truth, and the adaptations will reveal themselves.
Take two good shooters, and have them take turns hunting one another within a structure with simunition or airsoft guns and audit the experience. Expose the foundation to the changes present when we plug them into the correct setting. I take an open source approach. I want to know what works. I need to find those gaps, the holes in my game, and fill them.