Sunday, January 27, 2008

Shinken Gata: What I've learned about fighting from the Bujinkan

There's been many a negative comment thrown around about the ability of the average Boojie to fight his way out of a wet paper bag. Many of these comments are even deserved. We do spend a lot of time working on historical methods of combat that may not directly relate to modern reality.

On the other hand, here's a rundown of a few lessons passed to me by various folks within the Bujinkan:
1. Combat will not look like kata. It will be quick. It will be messy. Mistakes will be made.

2. Winning means... making fewer mistakes than the other guys, finishing with more energy than the other guys, and surviving to wake up on the right side of the grass the next day.

3. Fighting is immensely dangerous for all involved. You should only fight for the most important reasons. When you fight, fight all out.

4. Martial arts are something you do with people. Combatives are something you do TO other people. Don't be nice.

5. The best plan is: Use a weapon to kill the other guy while he's still standing up, and preferably no later than as he hits the ground. If you're wrestling around on the ground, it's taking too much energy, too quickly. The longer you wrestle, the more llikely you'll wind up as the dead one.

6. It is better to be lucky than skilled. It is best to be lucky and skilled.

7. No one is invincible. Don't believe me? Just ask any of the dead personnel from Task Force Ranger, who fought the Black Hawk Down incident. Oh, you can't... They're dead. These guys were Navy SEALs, Delta Force, and Army Rangers -- some of the toughest, best trained soldiers in the world. But untrained, malnourished, drug-addled bozos with rickety AK-47's killed them.

Our old friend MLK may take issue with us as "hobbyists" considering "real fighting." But the fact is, martial arts divorced from an understanding of martial reality are nothing more than dancing. Even if we don't ever intend to engage in actual hand-to-hand combat with an angry adversary, we need to keep the truth of combat in our minds as we train.

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