Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Doors Open ... Doors Close .....

Talking with R the other day about various types of opponents - and discussing solutions. Every one of them presented a different problem to solve, but perhaps a coherent underlying concept that linked them together.

The purpose of the exercise was 2 fold -
1) As a potential direction for personal development, and
2) To see what was important in our understanding of our 'Art', what was useful to us as individuals, and thus worthy to pass on.

All these hypothetical opponents presented difficult problems, generally of the 'he's talented and fast, strong and skilled', or 'he's got fantastic spine control, once he touches you it's really hard to escape'. That kind of thing.

OK, so, nightmare opponents - powerful, skilled, technically gifted, or superior in some way.
First question - why are you engaging at all?

This may seem like an odd question, but it's an important one and worth thinking about, because it sets up context and thus your options for what happens next.

Remember, in any system, all the pieces should fit somewhere in the whole .... should. I can say that every piece that I teach I can justify, and give an example of WHEN and WHY it is a useful thing to do, along with when and why it is not. There is a chain, a 'kadena' if you like, of events that create moments where certain things become good ideas, and knowing these things opens up your options.

So back to the difficult opponents .... For the grappler who waits - the biggest question is why are you entering when they can see you coming and know that you will?
If they are more skilled and are relying on you to choose the time when you close, then you have to surprise them, and I mean do something, or a string of things, that they can't follow or predict. You can certainly play psychology to create an error, and you can use the fact that they think of themselves as skilled to trap them. Or, perhaps, just walk away 

With the fast, big, strong guy ... same thing - why? Say engagement is inevitable, then here at least you have the advantage of knowing they are coming for you (if you have no escape option), but again, if they are fast and skilled, and stronger than you, it is very dangerous to let them choose when and how.

Barring environmental props, helpful friends, projectiles, luck, natural disaster, you are left with only certain areas that you can play with, and certain laws of physics that are unavoidable.
For instance, if they have more power, you can still play with timing, use weak angles to your advantage, use psychology to force errors, play with range to put power into the system that you can use to your advantage, and use the knowledge that there will always be a target open as soon as they commit to an attack.

In the mean time .... you have to avoid damage .... physical and psychological.

These places are where most of the important pieces of a system live - the physical deception, the traps, the psychological entrapment, the evasive skills, the range stealing, the short power, the freezes and surprises .... all of it to buy you time and help you set up your moment. And when that moment comes, you must be ready to take full advantage of it, it may be the only one you get.

... And here, finally, you get to use all the technical material you have been taught.

1 comment:

Jake said...

I think "but why" question is really underrated.

Every now and then I'd get a Muay Thai student asking something like "but what if the guy is this much bigger and stronger and faster and..."

Some times that makes sense. Other times it doesn't. Muay Thai is a combat sport. If you're engaged with a guy twenty pounds heavier than you in the ring...well, someone screwed up. Several someones, probably.

Self-defense gets the same way. "Why are you fighting this guy?" is a question that doesn't get asked enough.