The following essay was written by Greg Leisure, a reader of this blog and a fellow karate student from Okinawa, Japan. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and are presented here in order to provoke intelligent thought and discussion. They do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Quantum Karateka. Readers should be thinking for themselves and asking questions. – – Enjoy!
4. On The Importance of Being a Well-Rounded Fighter
“With me, illusions are bound to be shattered. I am here to shatter all illusions. Yes, it will irritate you, it will annoy you – that’s my way of functioning and working. I will sabotage you from your very roots!”
“Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it.”
― Bruce Lee, Tao of Jeet Kune Do
I do not believe a martial artist is an expert if they cannot see the weakness in their own style of martial art. And if they are curious students of self-defense, they would search for that part of the puzzle which is missing. It is my belief that stand-up fighters must learn how to fight on the ground, and, likewise, ground fighters must learn to stand up and fight with strikes.
On the ground the whole dynamics of fighting changes. How will body mechanics be used on the ground when it has not been trained for on the ground? Perhaps it will be impossible without a center of balance based upon stand-up training. How will one create massive force on the ground? If one is lucky and is able to punch with a free arm, it will not be the same as when standing.
Dojo instructors will be better able to assist in developing more efficient and well-rounded martial artists if they admit that the whole range of possibilities of a fight must be studied and have time devoted to regular training in those situations. If this is not done, then it cannot be honestly claimed that effective self-defense is being taught or learned. If one does not have the full spectrum of training for a realistic fight, then one’s fighting abilities may be an illusion.
Shouldn’t such illusions be sabotaged?
It is understandable that some instructors may know little or nothing about ground fighting, and, therefore, cannot offer much specific training as such. I suggest two solutions:
1. Don’t worry about specific expert training if that cannot be found. What is most important is that one experiences moving on the ground against someone while still trying to strike. Students will naturally begin to learn on their own about locking, pushing, and pulling limbs and getting into a dominant position.
2. Instructors should invite jujutsu, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and judo teachers or their students to lead classes as guest instructors. It should not be a once or twice a year seminar type event. They should be as often as possible but in such a way that they do not outnumber regular classes.
There really is no other way to prepare for a fight if one does not experience a very wide range of possibilities of how a fight could occur. Safety measures can be adopted to protect from injury, and while that does take away from some of the realism, it is still superior to just doing kata. Pairing up with a training partner for standing and ground fighting is essential in order to prepare for different possibilities of how a fight could evolve.
One must accept and assume that an opponent on the street may be a better fighter and could control the flow of the fight. Stand-up fighters and their instructors would be wise to prepare for such a thing. But the same is true for ground fighters as well. In other words, cross-training is essential for all who do martial arts for self-defense.
Who wants to be a victim of over-confidence? One should ask themselves, “Am I married to my style of martial arts, or am I married to self-defense?” Does one have enough imagination and foresight to see how their own style of martial art could not be enough to stop an attack? Does one reject the idea that one must fully master a technique or style before being able to adequately defend oneself, or does one expect reasonable improvement in abilities within a reasonable amount of time?
“Agitate! Agitate! Ought to be the motto of every reformer. Agitation is the opposite of stagnation – the one is life, the other death.”
— Ernestine Rose
End of Part 4