An athletic martial artist who has worked as a bouncer will believe and teach that you see things coming and your physical attributes are key.
An instructor who has survived a rape attempt may well believe that the key is unbridled ferocity, slipping the leash. If they won despite disadvantages in strength, size and position they will believe and teach that strength, size and position are secondary to mindset. If they could not even think of a technique in the moment, they will likely teach that technique is irrelevant.
So here are my biases and assumptions, to the extent that I see them (the thing with blindspots is that you can't see them, so there are many I will miss.)
- Unarmed arts only exist for emergencies you didn't see coming. If you can predict it and plan it and force is unavoidable, it is stupid to go in without a weapon. For that matter, without getting every advantage you can.
- Which means that the basic environment of an unarmed encounter is the position of disadvantage. Bad structure, positioning, footing, injured, overwhelmed and behind the curve.
- Almost always, the ones you see coming you can ward off by positioning or verbal de-escalation. As such I've often and (so far) successfully, put myself in positions that weren't tactically optimal in order to talk stuff down (strategically preferable).
- I don't think conflict is a physical problem most of the time (see number 3) and even when it is a physical problem, there are minds and social rules and the world involved. The more of those elements you can manipulate skillfully, the better off you are. Sometimes you play the cards, sometimes you play the person and sometimes you play the table.
- I expect the threat to have the advantage in size and strength or to be crazy (mental instability or drugs). Because almost all of them were one or the other. Potentially sampling error... but I think it makes sense, since you'd have to be crazy to routinely attack bigger and stronger people.
- I believe in the primacy of infighting. This is the prejudice that is most likely to be incompatible with a student's nature. Classical JJ is an infighting system-- weapons were assumed and there was no safe way to finish it at long range. Early I learned that people freak out more when someone tries to close, and that shaped my personality. Thus, by nature and training, I'm an infighter. I tend to reject techniques that keep distance and most of the techniques I prefer (and therefor teach) put you at clinch range. If that's not a good range for you, I'm unlikely to be a good teacher.
- I tend not to injure people. That was the preferred outcome on my job-- maximum control with minimum injury. That's shaped a lot in that I have very few strikes I consider reliable. Marc consistently gives me a bad time because I don't always treat potentially deadly threats as seriously as he thinks I should.
- Weapons: I'm completely cool with improvised weapons and using obstacles, etc. But for the first ten years of my career, we were not allowed to carry anything. When OC was finally authorized, I just never thought about it. OTOH, my weapon training was completely offensive, centered around hostage rescue tactics with a team. My mindset is completely different when I pack versus when I don't.
- I have very weak social instincts. This means that I don't tend to get emotional or competitive when I fight...and I don't really understand why other people do. It's good in that the lack of anger never makes me want to overstep bounds, but some of my basic things- the range, positioning, not bothering to make eye contact, smelling, face contact-- are sometimes hard for others. Many people have to force themselves to grab a face, for instance, whereas grabbing a collar or neck is (emotionally) easier. Just rarely as effective.
There are more, I'm sure. Do this analysis for yourself, your style and your instructor. It all adds up to each of us are training for a generally narrow range of conflict. Including me. Be aware.
Hope you all had a good Solstice.