Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dirty Fighting for Martial Artists

The argument has been around since UFC 1; most street fights go to the ground, BJJ rules on the ground, therefore BJJ is the best for street fighting. The “Street” exponents (RBMA, Combatives) argue that BJJ is learned under a codified rule system and that there are no rules on the street and a good eye gouge/throat shot will nullify any advantage that the BJJ guys have. Having spent most of my life studying a street oriented self-defense system as well as having a Purple Belt in BJJ and grappling for well over ten years now, my views on this subject have changed as my knowledge has increased.
Fifteen years ago, I was one of the “street-exponent” guys that decided that well placed strikes, presses, pulls, and breaks would take a BJJ player out of his environment and turn him into a reactive mass like anyone else that had a finger stuck in their eye or their trachea pinched. After several years in BJJ, I discovered that BJJ guys can do all that illegal stuff too and can do it better because they are well versed in using the ground to stabilize their targets. They are also very adept at hiding their own targets from probing hands. I have found the key to effective “dirty” fighting is to train regularly in all three areas, striking, groundwork, and illegal stuff. More and more striking schools are incorporating groundwork into their curriculum. Most BJJ schools offer MMA striking skills (boxing, Muay Thai, G&P) but again, these are taught in a sports environment. If you do not train to use the naughty stuff then odds are you will not use it when the balloon goes up. If you have never tried to gouge someone’s eye, how do you know you can do it let alone know how someone will react when his eye is being attacked? If you have never pulled a clavicle, how do you know how deep you have to dig for a grip or how hard you have to pull to separate it? I’ve gone after both; with the eye, he fought through the damage (and there was a lot of damage) and he still picked me up and carried me across the room to slammed me into some furniture. I’ve gone for clavicles twice (pre-BJJ) and have yet to get a solid grip and without that, forget about a separation. Breaking someone’s finger? Never slowed me down and there were no drugs or alcohol involved on my part.
In the early 90’s, I attended a seminar with Paul Vunak one of the early proponents of RBSD and still a respected name in the field. One of the areas he covered was Kino Mutay, biting and pinching. It was a delightfully painful experience that also included hair pulling and was almost a system in itself, not unlike Chin Na for the Chinese Systems. Whereas most of the pinching, pulling, and biting were distractants, several specific attacks inflicted a significant amount of damage. Prior to that seminar, I thought a bite was just a bite and a hair pull was just a hair pull. Afterwards, I realized they were special tools that helped you reach a specific goal and when used properly, were very effective to that end. The most important thing I learned was that you needed time to facilitate maximum effect. This meant the target had to be stabilized and controlled in order for the attack to garner the desired result. If a human being can cut off their own arm in order to survive, do you really think a poke in the eye, fishhook to the mouth, or a bite to the cheek is going to make someone just give up and quit? These attacks are just tools and as tools, they need to be used properly to maximize their function. Hair pulls are used to create disturbances in balance and cancel zones. Bites and pinches are used to create openings and/or space. In extreme situations, they tear, crush, and gouge. Rarely will the infliction of pain alone be the primary motivator in making a really bad person give up their desire to make you a resource. While these are considered horrific attacks that can cause incredible damage as well as kill, they are still very viable options when it comes to preserving your life. Are you prepared to use them?