Property Grunt

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Street Fighting Man? More like Street Fighting Dumbass!

I am going to take break from the beaten path of real estate and write about a recent article in the NYT about the proliferation of street fighting instructional videos. It is actually a really good article however they screwed up on one thing. In the picture they state a guillotine choke is being demonstrated when in actuality it is a rear naked choke.

That aside, Warren St. John has done an excellent job of presenting this boom that is occurring where men have chosen to engage in distance learning through DVDs to learn street fighting techniques rather than actually learning it at a school. What is amusing is that the customers that buy these DVDs believe they can survive an altercation with Tito Ortiz. Its akin to those poor fools who thought they could become real estate geniuses by reading the Rich Dad books and listening to his real estate CDs.

These are basically armchair tough guys who believe that they will acquire an arsenal of techniques that they can whip out at moment’s notice. As the saying goes “The more things change the more things stay the same.” I remember during the 70’s it was the Bruce Lee craze, that if you wanted to be a badass you had to learn kung fu. Then in the 80’s we had Sho Kosugi running around in a black mask and pajamas heralding the Ninja craze with Revenge of the Ninja and Ninja 3: The Domination. Everyone had to learn Ninjitsu and the art of throwing “Chinese stars”. The irony is that Sho Kosugi was never a ninja. He just holds a black belt in Shotokan Karate. And the late 80’s we had Olympic style Tae Kwon Do brought about by the 1988 Olympics, then Jean Claude Van Damme proved to the world he was circumsised through his 360 degree split kicks and Steven Seagal showed how badass Akido is even though his acting skills did not even match his martial arts prowess. Then with the Matrix, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Jet Li, everyone wanted to learn wushu and fly across the bamboo forest even though that requires wires. Now in the 21st century we have the Ultimate Fighters where there is a vast majority of wannabes who think that by watching the reality show that they can actually do these things. Of course they aren’t factoring that the contestants on the Ultimate Fighter have years of experience, training and are basically Olympic level athletes.

I presented this article to someone who knows a thing or two about street fighting which is Rob the Bouncer of Clublife that happens to be an excellent blog. His views and experiences on being a bouncer are quite insightful and have an interesting way of relating to life in general.

His response was the following

I don't write about the technical aspects of fighting very often, because I'm not an expert in the field. In my "old age," I've come to abhor fighting -- at least the kind done outside the ring or the cage -- so for me to offer an opinion on the subject is laughable. Bouncers aren't "fighters." However, I've been trained -- and have been smacked around, tapped out, guillotined, triangled, kimura'd and Thai kicked -- by some of the best in the business, so I'll simply state that there's much more to winning a fight than knowing a series of "moves."

Feel free to thumb me in the eye, my friend. But if you miss, and you haven't been working on your conditioning -- or your strength, speed and agility -- it's gonna be a long thirty seconds.

Sleep well. The ambulance will be here momentarily.

Although my background is not as diverse as Rob’s I do know that acquiring the skillsets, mentally and physically, to be a successful street fighter (And my parameters for success is simply to survive a violent encounter) takes a tremendous amount of dedication and effort. This is accomplished through practicing proper technique and form to the point of exhaustion and getting your ass kicked in during sparring.

Bruce Lee once said, if you want to learn to swim you go into the water. You can’t learn to swim on land. The same goes with fighting.

You can’t reach that level of expertise by simply watching a DVD on the subject. It’s impossible. You might be able to pick up a couple of tricks, which might serve to smack around a drunk or two as it did for Mr. Graham. But if Mr. Graham pulled that on someone who was a graduate of Rikers Island, it would be a completely different story.

Street fighting is not like the movies where you strike a pose, do a few kicks and the bad guy goes down. If your attacker is hopped up on drugs let alone their own adrenaline, you might as well hit them with a truck because it will take a lot more than a thumb in the eye and a couple of punches in the midsection to stop them.

The scary thing is that even if you do have the skills to kick ass and take names, even if you can put your fist through a wall, you still might lose.

Gary Daniels who is a martial arts actor famous for his B movies including Fist of the North Star and the Bloodfist series once told a story that occurred during the beginning of his film career. While working on a film in the Philippines, he was at a bar with his cast and crew, when a very small man began to harass him. At first Daniels chose to ignore the little troll, which is what any proper martial artist would do in his place. But the troll would not leave him alone. Finally Gary decided to take the matter outside.

The moment the situation started to veer toward violence a group of local women who were in the bar begged him not to fight the troll. Now Gary was a bit puzzled. He was a very experienced martial artist and had won a few matches as a kick boxer. There was no reason that he would not be able to take care of himself. While the troll had more fat than muscle if he had any at all. Then one of the women explained to him that he didn’t understand. The troll had a reputation of having his friends jump in and kicking the crap out of the guy he was fighting. And if his friends weren’t around, he always had a gun on him.

This is why among proper martial artists that fighting is held as the last resort. You can’t rehearse a fight. You don’t know what is truly going to happen when you utilize your technique. Anything can happen. It is also not worth the aggravation that comes from the aftermath of a fight, which includes medical bills, lawsuits and the police. Even if you are in the right, you can get into a helluva lot more trouble. Which is why I believe your feet are the best defense in any violent situation. Run away.

I am not saying you should be a wuss and get pushed around. If you have to stand up for yourself, so be it. Just practice sound judgment and use verbal communication to either defend or defuse a situation. And if the need to physically defend yourself comes up, make sure it is for the right reasons.