Sunday, April 12, 2015

Choosing safety over style ...

The difference between martial arts training and self-defense

I regularly get asked what system of martial art I think is best for self-defense. Go online and check there are countless forums arguing the benefits of Krav Maga, or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Muay Thai kickboxing. All are great arts I believe, none are pure self-defense - at least the way I have seen them taught.

That is why Tony Blauer’s SPEAR System is different.

Watch this short video (less than a minute). Mute it if you are at work.

In it you will see two fights. In the first fight, the two boys are battling it out on the ground. After each punch or elbow they talk a little smack and then fight. One kid explains, as he drops elbows, “that is why I am a champion.” It’s not self-defense, it’s two kids trying to figure out who the toughest kid on the block is. They are not really trying to hurt each other. If it was real danger, one of those kids would smash the other’s head on the ground until he could run away. This was consensual sparring. Their martial arts and wrestling skills work well in this arena.

The second fight, presumably between then one kid’s mother and the other kid, was a little different. If we extend self-defense to include our greater selves, those around us we care about, I’d think that it would extend to our children. So from a philosophical perspective, what she did was self-defense (Maybe not from a legal or moral perspective, as she was cheering when her son was winning. Watch the whole video here). She didn’t give him a little tap and say “I’m the champion’s mom,” she ended the fight in the quickest way she knew how. She wasn’t concerned about looking cool, or that her son would be ridiculed for mommy saving him. She wanted to protect and get to safety. See didn't care about the rules of one-on-one, she just wanted to save her boy. That is self-defense.

I had a mother call me for her son. She explained that he had been punched the day before. He was at practice and one kid threw a ball at him and said something to him. Her kid picked up the ball, threw it back hard at the other kid and said something back. The first kid punched her son in the face and her son let him walk away. She told me she wanted her son to learn self-defense so he could have fought back. I explained to her that it didn’t sound like she wanted me to teach her son self-defense, she wanted me to teach him how to fight. Self-defense would have been easy. Don’t throw the ball back.

I read it all the time online about how people say their system would beat this other system. One time I had guy who wanted to test it. I was in a martial arts gym where I train sometimes and he thought we should figure out whose system was better. He suggested we have a fight where I only could use the SPEAR System and he would only use BJJ. 

Here is the problem with his suggestion:

If this was a real scenario, what I just heard him say was we are going to have a fight. That is what we refer to as a pre-contact cue. Coach Blauer teaches it as stimulus-stimulus-stimulus-response. It is what happens, before what happens, before what happens before I get you use all my cool martial arts moves. In the SPEAR System, once I knew he was going to fight me, I would have grabbed the first thing I could get my hands on (in this case, a martial arts trophy on the wall where we were standing) and smashed it over his head until I could run away to safety.

See, in self-defense, that is a win.

A win in self-defense has nothing to do with points, or punches or honor or ego. It has to do with choosing safety over a style or a system. It has to do with surviving an ambush not winning a fight.

At it’s best self-defense, is about not about fighting.

It is about not having a fight at all.