Saturday, January 02, 2010

Never and Always- Thinking

Training and application are context specific. That’s not really news, or at least it shouldn’t be. Sometimes common sense is context-specific as well. We tend to forget that.

A friend, months ago, made the statement that “…never and at no time and in no way have the major hip throws been used in combat. You will never find anyone in a combat zone who will voluntarily turn his back on the enemy. They are purely sport techniques.”

He’s a smart man and not one to throw around words like ‘always’ and ‘never.’ He couldn’t find a record of someone having done a full-entry hip throw in combat and, combined with the common sense that it would be a bad idea, he felt comfortable making the pronouncement.

I wanted to argue- because the word ‘never’ pushes my buttons. I thought about it for some time and couldn’t recall a specific example. I’ve used a lot of sweeps and leverage take-downs at work, but can’t recall a true hip throw. I know a few guys who have used the wrestling version of o-goshi, but without seeing the specific incidents, I don’t know whether they turned their backs entirely or not.

Reviewed the older kata that I knew and half-entry hip throws are common, but not the full entry. I didn’t have anything to argue with. Maybe it was a never and I just need to quit whining when my panties are in a twist.

Then last night I was brawling with my son. And I hip threw him, full entry. But I never turned my back on him.

The thing is, we forget stuff- people don’t kill the way they spar. In any kind of close quarters battle, emphasis on the battle, I’ll do anything I can to get behind you. So will most people who have trained in a place where blindsiding is encouraged. It’s way easier to beat people up (or kill, or subdue) from behind.

My son has been training with me. He snaked past and got to my back. He wanted the facemask leading to the choke, I think, but he executed it a little too sloppy, so I threw him.

There are two, maybe four important thoughts here:

1) Gifts, one of the universal principles: The threat, by action or position, gives you the body you will be acting on. He supplies the openings, he supplies his own vulnerabilities. If you go in with a scripted plan it will only work if the threat, by pure chance, offers you the right position and momentum. One of the most important skills is the ability to see, recognize and exploit the gifts.

2) Bad guys don’t attack in the same way and for the same reasons you might be preparing for. There was a class long ago (I won’t name the style, but within the style they were very good competitors) where the contestants would deliberately turn their backs on their opponents because striking the back didn’t count and might even get the other guy disqualified. Maybe your training flaws don’t seem so extreme—but neither an enraged housewife in a domestic or an ex-con uses a knife anything like an arnisador does. Training for flowing cuts with full mobility is just as irrelevant to the problem at hand as training to turn your back.

3) Some of the things that don’t make sense start to make sense when dealing with assaults. Common sense informed by dojo training or armchair visualization is context specific. Your conclusions (and hence your training methodologies) may be a complete mismatch for how a bad guy attacks.

4) Some of the hardest parts of training and competition are handed to you in real life—there is a serious art and science to making the 180 degree spin to a full hip throw in a judo tournament, but the bad guy may start in that position, close in, tight and from behind.


The guest entry I wrote for Kris Wilder's Striking Post Blog is now up.

I lost contact with Jason Pittman a few years ago. He's a good friend and a good fighter. When we met, he was in charge of security at a very active trauma center. He was getting more fights in the Emergency Room than I was in a jail. He wandered off to pursue his dream of competing in Mixed Martial Arts and I went to Iraq and we kind of lost contact.

Jason’s back, and coaching at 503 West Coast Jiu Jitsu, a new facility. The space looks great, the crew (instructors and students both) have a great energy.

I’m really happy for you, JP!


jks9199 said...

Great point that sometimes a technique is really a "reactionary" technique, rather than a "strategic" technique. I was teaching today, and discussed three types of targets: Primary (what you wanted in the first place), Secondary (what you'll take if you can't get a primary), and Accidental (unplanned, unintended, but hit it anyway). The Accidental target KO because the guy ducked into the punch you were throwing at his gut is just as real as if you'd planned to hit him in the jaw... though it might not be a target choice you'd have made at that time, in that manner!

I think it's really enlightening to look at some techniques in that mindset... Especially a lot of throws and choke defenses.

shugyosha said...

On number 2: there was a kendo team in Europe some years ago that spread the idea of sloppy-full impulse entries. Since kendo doesn't allow for backslashes, they didn't have to worry about them when they didn't score. Until some other teams got fed up at started slashing anyway, since it didn't disqualify them either. Oopsie, change of mindset.

Jay Gischer said...

To reinforce your point about ambushes: Long ago at my homecoming bonfire senior year, a classmate jumped me from behind, onto my back. I lowered my shoulder and threw what I know now as seoi nage. That ended that. I never found out what it was about.

Even ignoring that, basic hip throws are more than a "sport technique".

They are a critical training tool. O Goshi, as we call it, is one of the easiest things to teach people out of the box. It's expect to be a springboard from which you can learn other things, not the be-all and end all in and of itself.

The same movement and positioning can be used to throw someone to the rear, without turning your back. Step behind them, drop your butt under theirs and throw a basic hip throw. Uke has a very unfortunate ride, especially. Nobody's back has been turned through 180 degrees. But the mechanics are nearly identical to a basic hip throw, assuming that uke is off balanced to the rear.

We don't teach professionals. We don't teach people with a lot of athletic experience, either, or who are 18 years old and gung ho. So we need some simple basic throws just to get them moving and feeling each other.

Furthermore, I'd submit that learning to feel the level of opening needed to turn and throw is also valuable training.

James said...

Brad Hoyes, a rookie I was training back in the day, used one. He was an all-state wrestling champion and a drunk in a bar fight call threw a punch at him. Wrong move. Brad threw him with a full hip toss and buried him into the ground. As Brad was subduing him on the ground, I leaned over and asked if he needed any help. He looked over his shoulder at me and said "No! I'm enjoying this!".