The myth of the fight

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Is this stomping a sacred cow? I don’t know, I just know that a lot of people (me included) need to adjust the way we train.

Like the myth of proportional armament, there’s the myth of proportional initiative. Or as I like to simplify – there’s a myth that there’s going to be a fight.


Let’s get something straight

Let’s clear this up from the beginning – if you get into a fight, you shouldn’t be fighting.

There are very few “true” fights. These mostly boil down to getting into an emotionally charged bar fight, a.k.a. a Monkey Dance. And that’s a problem because a Monkey Dance is NOT self defense, it’s mutual fighting (you’re both willing participants). And mutual fighting is not self defense because it’s usually avoidable. An apology and leaving the premises can go a long way to preventing a Monkey Dance fight.


If not a fight then what?

But there’s so much violence in the world. I need to be able to protect my family. Why wouldn’t I train for a fight?

First off, I’m not saying don’t train, I’m saying “adjust” the way you train.

Secondly, you’re right, there is a lot of violence in the world. And yes, you do need to be able to protect your family. What I am saying is that the violence you’re likely to encounter is not a fight, it’s an ambush.


Modus operandi

Robbers, rapists and murderers do not come in boxing gloves and a month’s warning so you can prepare yourself mentally for the fight. They do come hidden in shadows next to your front door. They do sneak up behind you and smack you over the head with a brick.

The boxing referee starts a match by saying “Fight.”. He doesn’t start the match by asking you a question while the other boxer hits you behind the ear. A boxing match doesn’t start with an ambush and an assassination.

And that’s the reality of what you’re facing – ambushes and assassinations. No “honourable” fighting here. People looking for a standup fight need to understand this point and understand it well: the only “fight” you will get starts when you’ve already halfway lost. Or even all the way lost, but you have to try anyway.


 “The very essence of self defense is a thin list of things that might get you out alive when you are already screwed.” – Rory Miller


Initiative is a great thing. And the BG usually has it all. It’s almost a definition – if you get attacked it’s because the BG has the initiative. Otherwise he wouldn’t have attacked you. So when people talk about training for the fight, I hear them say “training for an event when I have just as much initiative as the Bad Guy.”


The importance of situational awareness

This is why situational awareness is such a valuable thing – if you can spot the ambush early, you have a chance to either turn the ambush into a fight, or better yet – get the fuck away. Situational awareness is one of the few things that allows you to flip the table and retake the initiative.


Military doctrine

At least the army tries to acknowledge the reality of things. The army does various “movement to contact” type drills. (“Contact” meaning people are getting shot.) What it basically boils down to is “movement until you can ambush the enemy, or until you get ambushed by the enemy”. It’s preferable to being the one doing the ambush rather than being ambushed. But they’re often honest in telling you that you won’t always know which it is until it happens.


Don’t misunderstand me, I think there’s a huge amount of benefit to “normal” training (i.e. fight training). From boxing to BJJ, there’s a lot you can learn, and a lot you can use. But just remember two things:

Number 1:

Competitors get a ref who says “Go!” Your go-signal is that heat in the back of your skull and falling to the floor.

Competitors get preparation time well before a fight is scheduled. Your preparation time depends on whether you manage to spot the BG beforehand, or whether you find out about the ambush when you turn around to find yourself staring down a barrel.

Fight training works against a similar sized guy standing in front of you. Your training has to work against being grabbed from behind with a knife to your throat.

Number 2

“Fight” training teaches you to punch and kick. To mutually break down your opponent in the hopes that you break him down faster than he breaks you down.

Self defense training needs to teach you to assassinate the Threat when you’re already in a position of disadvantage.



To put the above into a gunfighting context:

You don’t get into a gunfight. You get ambushed, and then you have to fight your arse off to make it turn into a gunfight.

(And once you’ve done that you work very hard to turn it into you assassinating them – that’s the quickest way to make them stop.)


Training for the fight

Yes, go get “fight” training. Boxing, BJJ, IPSC. Just keep reminding yourself, you won’t get into a fight, you’re going to be ambushed.

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