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Reality in Martial Arts Training

“We train hard so the fight is easy” - unknown.

During the past several years much time has been spent analyzing and rechecking martial art theories and applications in a hope that we can provide our group with a better plan for self defense and training applications.  One of the biggest obstacles that I have experienced is the wide range of talents and use of terminology.  What one group of martial artists considers “intense” another group would break a rib laughing at.  Think for a moment of the diversity of martial artists out there.  We have everything from blue-collar, heavy duty construction workers and submission fighters to white collar, office personnel whose biggest threat of the day is a paper cut.

Each has their own predetermined idea of what an intense workout is, and what a threat is.  I guarantee you that the two ideas are far removed from each other.

I run into schools and associations whose idea of an intense workout is cardio karate class with a gi on, and the next week I see a school where if there isn’t heavy bruising and blood loss it doesn’t count as a workout.

Reality checks are still one of the most humbling experiences out there and we all need them.   Most people get only one point of reference during their training.  Their only reality check is within the dojo and what ‘sensei’ tells them.

Both points are severely flawed.

‘Sensei’ can only teach you what he/she knows and has experienced and dojo is full of ‘dojo compliance’ and ‘politeness’.  These three things greatly inhibit growth and safety while filling the martial artist with a severe case of false security.  Run this simple test in your mind or dojo.  Try your techniques with a bigger, faster, opponent that is really trying to get you.  If you feel that it did not work or that you could only get it to work 50% of the time, you have a real problem on your hands.  Reality bites and is very unforgiving.  You have to decide whether you are willing to bet your life on ‘Sensei’s’ life experiences and dojo compliance when someone really latches on with intent.  Theories and mind games are okay, but when the attacker has you by the throat, and your lights are starting to go out, you may wish that you had spent a little more time in the real world of training.

Now, that does not mean that you go out and join a submission school or train with Army Rangers.  It just means that you push your envelope, question everything, and be honest with yourself.  Ask yourself, “Will this work for me when my life is on the line?” The fact that ‘Sensei’ says, and can do it will have no importance to you when you are about to get stomped.  If it doesn’t work for you on at least 90% of the people, 90% of the time, then it is a real bad bet on your part.  The undisputed truth of the matter remains as it always will, if you wish to learn to fight or defend yourself, you must engage in training as close to real fighting as your body can tolerate.  The harder you train, the more punishment you can withstand, the greater your chance of victory or survival.

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