OK, I get it: on the street you don’t want to be limited by the rules of a sport.
On the street you may need to pull hair, gouge the eyes, kick the groin, grab the throat, and if all that doesn’t work then you’ll need to start fighting dirty 😉
But a martial art is more than just the techniques that you find in that martial art; a martial art also includes methods for training those techniques! I break down the 3 components of every martial art in this blog post here.
So when it comes to the ‘dirty’ techniques, how on earth do you train them realistically?
Say you and a training partner want to work on your eye gouging. You now have a choice…
- Do you simulate eye gouging, including the reactions you might get, and possibly develop a false sense of confidence in the move? or,
- Do you go full bore and actually try to gouge each other’s eyes out?
The problem with option 1, as I hinted, is that it tends to result in unrealistic expectations about the efficacy of your technique and doesn’t get you familiar with the pressure, stress and heightened adrenaline levels of a real confrontation.
But option 2, on the other hand, would clearly be a short-sighted strategy (get it? Get it?).
I would suggest that dirty techniques are the icing on the cake of your martial art, and should NOT be the cake itself.
That means you should spend 80 to 90% of your time working on your ‘sport’ techniques – moves which can actually be trained against resistance – and only 10 to 20% of your time on the deadly techniques.
If you get really good at the ‘safe’ techniques (which involves training them against increasing levels of resistance, culminating in sparring) then it will be relatively easy to add the eye gouges, groin strikes and throat grabs back in.
The skills developed by training the relatively safe techniques include timing, footwork, body positioning, distancing, dealing with pressure, weight distribution, and a hundred other things that are impossible to become skilled at if your partner is play-acting along.
These skills, once developed, are a delivery system. And then you can use that system to deliver anything you want!
The classic example comes from boxing…
Of the thousands of hours Mike Tyson spent training with Cus D’Amato and Kevin Rooney how were spent on practising to bite ears off?
But when he was losing against Evander Hollyfield and went for the infamous ear bite then it was easy for him to do.
Tyson had his delivery system in place. He could defend the incoming punches, close the distance, and clinch. All that he then had to do was change the actual weapon, swapping out his teeth for his fists…
But this isn’t just about boxing! It applies to the kickboxing, clinching, ground grappling, and weapons ranges too!
Imagine you were fighting this year’s BJJ world champion and eye gouging was allowed. Do you think that eye gouging will be your secret equaliser? Not a chance! Instead that world champion will take you down or sweep you, get to the top, get a dominant position, and then eye gouge you all day long.
No, it’s not the technique per se. Instead the delivery system is the most important thing!
Work on your skills by training the safer ‘sport’ techniques for at least 80% of your training time. Include pressure, progressive resistance and live sparring.
Then, at the end, sprinkle in a few, carefully rehearsed dirty fighting techniques and you’ll truly be a formidable fighter!
More Dirty Fighting
I go into this subject much deeper in today’s video (that I’ve embedded at the top of this post).
But I also took this rant and released it as an episode on my podcast.
If you didn’t know already, my show is called The Strenuous Life Podcast.
Go grab episode 171 about training the deadly techniques on the podcast player that you already have on your phone!
For example, if you have an iPhone then it’s the purple app with the antenna-like thing in it; just click the Apple Podcasts link below to go to the right place and hit ‘subscribe’.
Here are the links to find the podcast on various players – the episode about training deadly techniques is number 171…
- Apple Podcasts (the purple app on your iPhone)
- Google Podcasts (the new google podcast app)
- Spotify (it’s free)
- Google Play
Or you can stream the audio here: