Monday, 29 June 2009

MMA and Street Combat

There is an article written recently on the website 24 Fighting Chickens entitled The Most Effective Martial Art on Earth. In it, the author explains that the most effective art for hand to hand combat without weapons is everything that is banned in an MMA fight.

Obviously the banned techniques in MMA include the most dangerous ones like eye gouges, throat strikes etc, and during extreme situations these techniques must be called upon to help defend oneself. However to say that these banned techniques make up the most effective martial art can’t really be justified.

Yes, an MMA fighter trains to compete under a sporting environment where there are many differences between sport combat and street combat. Sport requires the upholding of rules and regulations in order to keep the fighters as safe as possible. In the street there are no rules, anything goes and one is free to use or have used on them the banned MMA techniques.

But street combat is so much more than just learning how to use banned MMA techniques or punching without gloves, unlike an MMA fighter who trains with gloves. An MMA fighter takes blows constantly during training. Something anyone wanting to become proficient in street combat should also get used to. An MMA fighter gets used to physical contact like pulling, pushing, lifting and being lifted. This again is something that happens in street combat if a situation gets to that stage. An MMA fighter learns how to react fast, using many weapons on his/her body such as knees, elbows etc, something again, which is very relevant for street combat.

Also there is the mental aspect. Training for an MMA fight and sparring endless hours against fighters that may not only be intimidating but who also want to destroy you, which is the best preparation for an MMA fight, can eventually instil a fighting spirit and confidence which will definitely help oneself in a street combat situation.

MMA is a sport and street combat is something different, however, there are many aspects of MMA training that can help someone improve there skills for street combat. For this reason, the statement quoted above, that the best martial art for hand to hand combat is one that includes everything banned in MMA can not hold water.

It will be interesting to hear people opinions on this.


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Urban Samurai said...

I agree that there are some things in MMA that will help a person cultivate a fighting spirit but really at the end of the day MMA is a sport. The physchological conditions are not even the same as a street situation. MMA fighters know what they are going into when they enter the cage and as such are able to feel safe in a way because they know what to expect, they know how their going to feel.

In a street fight conditions are much more unpredicatable. Anything can happen and this makes a person much less confident and much more under pressure. The rules are out the window, the things that provide a safety blanket for MMA fighters. Unless you have trained for those specific conditions the liklihood of those techniques working drop dramatically. An we haven't even mentioned weapons yet.

My problem with MMA for self defense is the thuggish nature of it. The only intent a fighter has is to destroy their opponent by whatever means. Control doesn't come into it. On the street, you can't just stand toe to toe with an attacker and beat them into a pulp. The law wouldn't let you away with it. A true martial art teaches control and only doing enough to subdue the attack. It doesn't advocate you become the aggressor instead, which is what I think MMA at least implies if not condones outright.

MMA has very little to do with self defense and everything to do with spectator sport. Fighting is not self defense.

Good post.

Adam @ Low Tech Combat said...

I think the big problem here is that by only using those 'illegal' techniques, there is simply no base to apply them from.

How would you practise these moves? Against a static partner who just stands there and lets you place your hand on their face and mimic gauging the fingers in? Do you grab hold of their clothing and gently raise your knee, stopping short of the groin? It is all very static and very ineffective.

The BIG benefit in the MMA way of training is the 'aliveness'. And this is something I always harp on. MMA fighters and students can apply their techniques on a person who is fighting back. They can defend a take down or tackle by sprawling with split second reflexes, they can counter punch, they can feint and draw. They can control a person on the ground and achieve a dominant and safe position in which to apply techniques from. They can move and react appropriately when things get messy and stand up grappling begins...

MMA training gives you the base to apply whatever techniques you want. You cannot use those very effective 'illegal' techniques if you simply cannot get into a position to apply them.

It would be like having the very best and latest oar with no handle or canoe. Does that make sense :P

For sure, those 'illegal' techniques are great at inflicting damage but you need the base to apply them. MMA is probably the very best base to apply whatever techniques you want.

Elias said...

I have a problem with people who dismiss some form of training because it's 'just a sport.'

In my humble opinion, the last person you'd want to mess with is the guy who has a higher pain threshhold, has a lot of endurance, has good technique in whatever they do, and has a heightened awareness of how they should move, especially in relation to their opponent.

All of these things you can get from training in MMA, or other combat sports.

That being said, it would also help to have an awareness of these 'illegal' techniques, how and when to apply them, etc.

Good post :)

Steve said...

I agree with most of what's already been said. I'll only add that training with intent makes a difference. I train mostly for sport. I'm really not focused on self defense. I do, however, train with many LEOs and such, and their focus is different from mine. I was working with a BJJ purple belt and sheriff's deputy one day at class. He was constantly point out little things that would make a big difference in a self defense situation... things that had never occurred to me.

I guess where I'm headed with this is, I completely agree that training with "aliveness" is important. But it's also important to train with intent. A well trained MMA fighter would be a relatively easy opponent to stab unless he's mindful of the tactical differences between MMA and a street encounter. I'm not saying it's an impossible or even difficult transition. I'm just saying that it IS a transition and not one that every person has considered.

John W. Zimmer said...

Let me start by saying fighting is fighting is fighting.

MMA would work fine in the street as any other fighting art would. It would have to be adjusted many times as groin shots are not practiced and such.

What I don't like is the perception that taking shots in practice is somehow optimal (other than the obvious benefit of knowing what a punch would feel like)?

The goal of self-defense is not getting hit, while hitting the other guy. Easily accomplished in my experience by using critical distance along with initial movement.

Karate has plenty of "banned" techniques that cannot be used in practice so I do not see how this relates.

My 2 cents.

Jim said...

Jigoro Kano already proved that "sport training" can result in more effective fighting than reliance on "dirty tricks." His judoka trained sport-style in a martial art with all of the "deadly" techniques from jujutsu that could not be trained full-force removed. In the late 1800s, they faced off against jujutsu masters in no rules fights for the benefit of the Tokyo police and crushed them.

KarateStudent said...

KarateStudent ("KS) on "24 Fighting Chicken Author" / Most Effective Martial Art:

KS went to the above website and perused through a number of articles by the Author. In KS's opinion, the Author is an excellent writer and does a very good job at taking a perspective and explaining it.

A common theme that runs through the Author's writings is criticism; he constantly finds what's wrong. A degree of cynicism is healthy; drawing broad conclusions from it results in rhetoric and faulty logic.

KS would like to present an example that expands on what Joh W. Zimmers seem to say. "Karate has plenty of banned techniques ..." Take the front kick, which by my knowledge has 3 variations--front thrust, front snap, and front swing.

The website Author says that since the banned 'sport karate' techniques are the most effective, that's why they're banned; then the collary MUST be true. However intuitively appealing, this is a generalization, not supported by complete facts.

For instance, following Zimmer's comment, in a dangerous self defense confrontation, I would use my judgement and change a front thrust kick to the abdomen to a front snap or swing kick to the groin. While we are not doing what we train 'per se' in sport karate, the skills are the same, the technique related, just properly adapted to the particular situation. Thus, to say that 'sport' karate training is least effective in self-defense is false, false logic.

To those that say, "I only use the front thrust kick to abdomen because that is all I practice for sparring;" KS says this cycles back to Zimmer and who says this limited individual is not doing karate for self defense. Instead, they are taking karate, eliminating the "banned techniques," and saying karate can ONLY be done as a sport where you 'can't' hurt your opponent.

To further drive this point home, the force applied with the technique is also a factor. If I throw an easy middle punch to the face and pull it short, nothing happens. If I do the same punch full force and knock all the front teeth out, (besides getting angry) a lot of people are going to quite fighting, especially if I hit the same place again full force.

In summary, the Author presents a thought-provoking and valuable perspective on the need to change your stratetic techniques when transitioning from the sport aspect of karate to self-defense. To say that a true karate practitioner and competitor like Zimmer represents is 'least' effective in a self-defense situation is a grossly false. The views of the other commentators factually support this postion.

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