3 Things That ONLY Martial Artists Know... And How You Can Know Them Too

Martial artists learn lots of very cool things. Power, balance, speed, conditioning, confronting pain and fear, respect, discipline, dedication, determination... The list goes on.

My first foray into the martial arts was around the age of 5 or 6. I spent the next 20 years training on and off in a variety of style. At age 25 I found Sensei Noah Greenstone and have been training daily since.
The martial arts taught me a lot of amazing lessons. The skills I learned saved my life on more than one or two occasions, and not just in the physical sense.

You may notice that the long list of amazing things I listed above does not include ‘self defence skills’, because, well learning martial arts and learning self defence are two very different things and I have written about this plenty (you can read about this here).
But there are other things us martial artists know that mere mortals do not. Wanna know what they are?

So, what are these things that martial artists know that normal people do not?

  1. How to punch really, really slow… and then freeze:
    A hallmark of bad self defence training is demonstrations where the attacker will punch ever so slowly… once… and leave their arm extended in what my friend Joe Saunders refers to as the ‘flying superman pose’. The instructor will then proceed to perform some cool, amazing stuff… that won't work at all the second the attacker pulls their arm back and starts swinging for real.
    But I have good ews! There’s a really good cure for this. It’s called ‘sparring’, and it’ll do you a world of good if you are one of those ‘my techniques are too lethal for competition’ guys who seem to always get their butts kicked when fists start flying.

  2. How to miss someone on purpose:
    I have never, ever been in a competition, sparring session or a real fight where the people I was fighting tried to miss me on purpose. Not once.
    And yet, martial artists have an uncanny, unique ability to purposefully miss the person they are training or demonstrating with. While it is often well intentioned, it is also a terrible habit if your end goal is to develop combative skills and efficiency (whatever ‘combative’ means to you – competition, self-defence, etc.). Doing so on a repeated basis teaches both you and your training partner bad things. It teaches you to miss your target, and it teaches your partner that the person who is attacking them (again, whether in the context of competition or self-defence) will not really try to hit them.

  3. How to fall down for no reasons at all:
    Much like the point above, I have never experienced or seen someone fall down in preparation for a throw or a strike, other than in martial arts training.
    I have often had training partners, especially if I demonstrate something in class, that are so eager to help me make my technique work that they ended up falling down before I have fully (or sometimes even started) executing a move.
    And again, I think it is important to say that this is done out of respect or good intentions – they want to help me make the technique work. And there is a time and a place for that, but even so there’s such a thing as taking things too far. Next thing you know we’ll start hurling Chi balls at each other or knock people out without touching them.

And where do you see these things? For the most part, you learn these weird, silly things in arts that:

  • Don’t use hard contact or full resistance in training
  • Have turned more and more into sports and away from their combative origins
  • Are taught by people who do not understand real violenc

The self-defence purists often say this about styles like Taekwondo or Aikido, but this has filtered to many systems. Krav Maga, which prides itself on being ‘reality-based’ (I cringe at the term) teaches these things regularly. BJJ has, for the most part, turned completely into a sport and the same things can be seen in BJJ.

Quite often when I demonstrate something to a class, a student will do all three of the above. The question is, do you thank them for trying to make you look good but then correct them and tell them to come at you properly (or at least more realistically), or do you use that as another mental nod t yourself that you are a badass and that what you ae teaching is legit?

I invite you to consider that question in earnest, wehterh you are teaching ot training.

If you find that the latter is more common, than you may want to reconsider whether what you are teaching is going to save someone’s life, and start pressure testing it against contact, resistance and unpredictable responses.

Let’s all work to make training more realistic!

Stay tuned, stay safe.



Last modified on Sunday, 08 March 2020 19:37
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Ron Amram

Co-Founder and Co-Director of Combat Arts Institute of Australia. Nidan Gendai Ryu Krav Maga & Jujitsu, Shodan Danzan Ryu Jujutsu, Brown Belt Dennis Hisardut, Krav Maga Instructor, Cert IV Training & Assessment

Website: combatartsinstitute.com.au/
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