If It Doesn’t Work Against A Skilled Opponent, Then It Doesn’t Work At All

Often times I am presented with, tagged in, or sent a video of something terrible. Truly awful technique, nonsense, or otherwise just absurd tactic. Most often its sent as a joke, but sometimes as a “hey man what do you think of this?”.

It can be difficult to be forthright and honest and not come off like a prick. I do better with the honest part than the not be an ass part.

On occasion if drawn into this discussion on a public forum or if it comes down to debate with some acolyte of the offending instructor I am again and again hit with this lowest common denominator rebuttal. The argument is “Well, this XYZ technique works against most people and most people aren’t skilled grappler’s!” or “This is supposed to work against a maniac trying to bash your head in not some MMA fighter!” Rob Pincus once commented to one of my long term law enforcement students that he “Watches too much UFC” when he questioned Rob’s blatantly obvious lack of depth in the entanglement and the clear opportunity he was giving the adversary to take his back in the shit show of a technique he was demoing.


Let me be clear. If it doesn’t work against a skilled opponent then IT DOESN’T WORK AT ALL. I mean this literally. At that stage of fighting its not your technique that’s winning, it’s your opponent that’s losing. I don’t need to know how to throw a punch if the target just stands there with his hands to his side and lets me have at it. Anything will do, and often does, and aggression wins the day. Seriously, I don’t need technique for someone who’s going to just fall over. And I really don’t need to give money to someone to show me how to knock over a man without balance.

The techniques we learn in the combat sports, in the “live” arts, they work against someone who knows them. They work against someone who knows them and doesn’t want you to succeed.  They work when your opponent has speed, size, and strength on you. They are true like gravity, they don’t care about your opinion. They don’t mind your belief system. Your feelings are irrelevant, when blood is cut off from traveling to the brain your going night night whether it happens on the mat or out in an alley, in the dark, face down in a puddle of piss and broken bottles as I am to believe all “real fights” take place.

I’m not saying you won’t win. I’m saying why are you training at all to beat someone that doesn’t need technique to be beaten? And why would you pay someone to show you something that only works on people that anything will work on?

It doesn’t take much to get a good filter. A year of BJJ at any legit school, take Shivworks ECQC and you’ll spot nonsense a mile away. I know it didn’t take much beating for me. I went from tactical timmey running knife templates on a piece of wood to convert of the church of Posture, Pressure, Position in just a few quick beatings and some guidance.

Getting victimized as a student by these charlatans early on has left an impact on me.

In shooting there is always this haunting notion, this specter of “good enough”. As Claude Werner has pointed out over and over again untrained people have successfully defended themselves with firearms at rates that are impossible to ignore. That may seem an odd statement from a dude so into training to post on a blog about training but its true. I would contend if the problem doesn’t require skill than having skill won’t hurt, but if the problem does require skill then no amount of wishful thinking will do.

If you can shoot competitively then a simple shooting problem will offer you no challenge, but if you’ve only prepared for the easy  problems a complex one will not stand still and allow you to catch up.

During our fundamentals Jiu Jitsu class last night my coach Warren Stout was teaching a guard opening technique. In the class was me as well as one of our MMA striking coaches. He commented that this particular technique was in both our MMA and Self Defense curriculum, and pointed out both of us to the class and we concurred. He said “This is a fundamental movement, from it you can build any kind of game you want, whether that’s sport Jiu Jitsu , Mixed Martial Arts, or Self Defense. People ask me all the time if we teach Sport Jiu Jitsu or Self Defense. I tell them we teach fundamental Jiu Jitsu.”

Shawn Lupka



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