View Full Version : Self Preservation or MMA

Demi Barbito
04-20-2004, 08:31 PM
In Self Preservation training the fight exsists for the fighter. In Mixed Martial Arts the fighter exsists for the fight. In Self Preservation the fighter fights because he has to. In MMA the fighter fights because he wants to.

We all understand the nature of combat but the application of that understanding is where we differ, quite dramaticlly. Throughout the centuries people have laid out their views regarding the underlying principles of self defense both theoretically and practically. Modern practitioners have tried to demonstrate, in a practical way, the essentials of the more recent developments in functional tactics and training methods. This has been beneficial to all who observe the trends and implement the usefull additions of various schools of thought. We must be aware of and beware of the “halo effect” (the beleif that any change is a good change).

MMA, though important and positive, is not the pinnacle of current martial ideology. It lacks the potential for response to higher threat levels which are by no means out of the realm of probability in todays world. Threats regarding firearms, weapons, multiple attackers, home invasion and the like are not on the agenda of MMA. Striking, clinch and ground fighting are of great value and are areas that must be trained, understood and developed. From there, pre fight psychology, OC Spray, firearms, impact weapons, white light, bladed weapons and more must become part of the training. Spending some of your valuable training time on each of these areas becomes a normal part of your routine. Gaining a degree of proficiency in these areas is what self Preservation is all about.

MMA is geared toward glory. Self Preservation is geared toward avoiding violence. MMA operates in a ring. Self Preservation operates in a hallway or a living room at 2:00am. MMA is about winning. Self Preservation is about escaping.

In my opinion, progessive methods should include physical tactics and psycological applications but should ignore the spiritual altogether. A practitioner must be prepared to endure long periods of physical and mental concentration and focus. Training is fun but also very serious. Tacking on some spiritual mysticism to muddy the waters is adding insult to training injury. Far to often there is a mystic guru who everyone can sit around and talk about. Circular logic can be fun but it is generally a distraction.

Self Preservation is concerned with the individual and not the organization or group. Self Preservation is not concerned with figure heads and hero worship. Self Preservation strives to impose peace.

Self Preservation exsists somewhere between tight black shorts and camaflauge pants.

I’d still rather see someone do MMA instead of traditional martial arts any day. I just question peoples motives when they train. Do you exsist for the fight or does the fight exsist for you.



04-21-2004, 03:13 PM
Interesting post/thoughts. I'm not sure of the point of it though. It kind of sounds like a bash on sport fighters while touting the "self defense" practitioners. If it's not, then I apologize for thinking that.

I've run into a lot of the self defense gurus and sport bashing types over my brief stint as a sport fighter. And I've seen/heard the sport fighters version that bash the SD guys.

The pure self defense guys seem to think that because the sport fighters train for a sport, they are incapable of surviving outside of that sport. That the lack of rules and a controlled environment will make them completely ineffective. The sport fighters feel that the self defense guys are, for the most part, living in a fantasy world of catching punches and pressure point attacks.

Honestly, the two aren't even close in terms of physical abilities or prowess, and in a physical confrontation between the two, if no weapons or multiple attackers are involved, I can almost guarantee the sport fighter would "win" a fight. My reasoning: the sport fighter trains out of a love of competition and loves training in and of itself. Many times the SD people train out of some sense of need. Most train only as much as they feel is necessary. A good example would be a police officer vs a sport shooter in the realm of shooting. Typically police officers don't spend enough time training in the use of their weapons to match the sport shooters in pure shooting abilities.

The difference in training methodologies doesn't matter, just the difference in time spent training and the intensity of that training. Too many sport fighters refuse to engage in sparring or free flowing self defense work, they end up spending their time working with partners that are not trying to really fight them, not really trying to make them fail. This doesn't give them that added sense of "aliveness" that is necessary to really get your moves to work. The sport fighter spends most of their time developing moves to work against a trained opponent.

While the sport fighter does need to add in weapons training and some time in dealing with multiple attackers, in my experience the self defense people need to work a LOT more on individual hand to hand abilities.

I'd rather see somebody train in a combative sport, such as Muay Thai, Boxing or MMA than somebody training in a self defense art/school. Both leave holes in their game, but most of the time the SD guys think they don't have that hole, until it gets exploited and they get hurt.

This is just my experience, and I'm obviously not speaking about all self defense schools, or all sport gyms, but I've only seen one school that taught self defense that really got people ready for a true fight, funny thing is, that school is ran by an ex boxer, and an ex Muay Thai fighter.

04-21-2004, 08:59 PM
I think there are a few issues-mainly things that mixed martial arts (and traditional martial arts) do not cover, and things that they cover that might not be useful or even dangerous on the street.

First, some things that might be useful in mixed martial arts competition would be useless and suicidal in the street, like deliberately going to the ground with an attacker. You don't have a matt to absorb the impact if you crack your knee on the ground when going for a takedown. Further, there may be broken glass, pebbles, and other things you don't want to come down on.

Finally there is the issue of multiple attackers or bystanders or friends of the guy you are fighting with that might take a kick at your head while you are tied up on the ground.

Not saying that a MMA fighter would necessarily try a takedown on the street, but when you train to do it a lot the impulse may be there.

Also, there are a lot of moves that you will learn and do in MMA training that are not useful on the street - like leglocks and counters to leglocks.

Again, I think there are a lot of useful things in MMA, as long as you use them and avoid the more problematic ones.

04-21-2004, 09:08 PM
I think the major point is that if you train soley in Mixed martial arts (as well as traditional martial arts and even many self defense places) that you need for the street that are not covered in most mixed martial arts schools.

A lot of these fall into the category of mental and tactical skills, and may often be more important than physical skills with a weapon or unarmed.

First, you need alertness and awareness to notice a threat, be it someone across the room or someone across the street. How many times have you heard someone say "he appeared out of nowhere?"

Next thing is ability to spot street set-ups and recognize suspicious situations and to be ready to strike if necessary and not let yourself fall into denial: "I can walk or talk my way out of this" or "he really only wants XYZ, not to fight or hurt me (see Carl Cestari's article on fronting for an idea http://www.gutterfighting.org/fronting.html). If you are facing someone in a suspicious situation your mindset should be ready to strike any time.

A lot of fights/confrontations/ muggings build up from an initial encounter/approach and escalate. It may start as a request for money and if you say no the guy may step in your way and become more assertive demanding and if you still say no he may start threatening. These people, if they do get physical are generally accustomed to making the first move. As soon as it is clear that you are being mugged, your movement has been arrested, and the guy isn't going to take no for an answer is the time for you to strike. This takes many muggers/attackers by surprise, because they are expecting and accustomed to throwing the first strike. It even helps to lower the person who is threatening you's guard by saying something simple like, "you can have it; don't hurt me," before you launch your pre emptive strike(s).

This brings us to another essential-the importance of pre-emptive striking when the situation warrants it. This is the only realistic way you can expect to defeat a better fighter if we are talking unarmed.

Not only should you launch a pre-emptive strike, but follow up with other strikes until the attacker is no longer a threat. This brings us to something else you need: aggression, forward momentum, and the downright bloodlust to finish the job.

Other points:

Don't let yourself get caught up in a discussion or debate with a suspicious person because this is a huge distraction and makes you a more vulnerable target. An example of this is not answering questions, like if the panhandler asks you why you won't give him a dollar, do not tell him, "because I work for my money, etc." or "go get a job." Don't even think about it. Concentrate on the potential threat.

It helps to understand adrenal stress and the body's response to threat. I recently saw a show on the History Channel about C.I.A. special operators in Afghanistan and one of them commented that they were trained to recognize their body's adrenal response and not confuse it with being frozen in fear, since adrenalyn causes similar feeling.

If you can recognize a setup and pre-emptively strike and follow through aggressively, you are way ahead of the game regardless of what you train in.

Demi Barbito
04-22-2004, 07:54 AM
Great responses.



04-22-2004, 07:37 PM
Alex gong was shot through a dark window while walking to the car of the guy that had just backed into his vehicle, anybody could/would have been hit by that. His training had nothing to do with it. There was no warning as the vehicle reportedly had tinted windows, and no contact with the psycho who later took his own life. There was no chance to evaluate a situation, the guy had stopped after hitting his car, he was expecting to exchange insurance info. Not any form of attack. The only thing(s) that could have saved him were a bullet proof vest and telepathy.

I'm going to have to disagree with a few of your points V42, while agreeing with some others. I have yet to see or hear of a school that covered everything you need. Most of the psychological and intellectual needs cannot be met in a gym or school, they have to be filled on your own time.

Any submission in the street is dangerous, it takes everything to apply and if multiple attackers, you're screwed no matter what it is. I have used three locks/submissions in fights before. The first ever was a wrist lock back in high school. (Yes, somebody actually grabbed my wrist when trying to start a fight with me)

the second was a rear naked choke off of a crow hopping haymaker (the guy threw haymaker, I did an arm drag go behind and sank the choke)

the third was when I was jumped from behind, I was tripped and found myself on the ground before I even knew there were attackers, one tried to kick me, through a tangle of legs I slapped on a heel hook and heard/felt something pop, I kicked out (knocking mister limpy into the other guy) and got to my feet. I was lucky that I was in a small hallway and it was difficult for both guys to come at me at once.

All of the subs/locks I used were not used as submissions, the two locks were snaps, the choke was as hard as I could do and ended up putting the guy out damned quick, then he hit the ground and I was ready for anybody else.

The problem with most self defense schools, IMHO. Is that they spend too much time talking and thinking. The gym/dojo is a place to develop your physical prowess and abilities. While theory and thought processes (such as developing sit. awareness) are necessary. Spending time in the gym doing that wastes your time after you are made familiar with the theory. You have to develop that on your own time. As a result, you end up with a lot of people who are situationally aware of everything that is happening, and know the exact theory to implement, but not the physical skills to actually pull that theory off.

The problem with most sport schools is they typically don't even mention the mental processes necessary for the street.

Both need things to make them whole.

Al Lipscomb
04-23-2004, 07:50 AM
I have been reading this thread for a while. Many good points have been made and I see that everyone has put some time into their thoughts.

Nobody is going to beat an ambush against a ranged weapon if the first shot is fatal. There are things you can do to avoid ambushes but when dealing with handguns and populated areas remember that the secret service has had a number of shots taken at presidents in recent history.

Your best starting "package" for defense is going to be a good foundation in physical, mental, spiritual and technical issues. Poor physical conditioning can even defeat a shooter if he runs out of air running for cover.

Mental issues would include situational awarness and threat classification. Knowing what is going on around you and how it can hurt you are important. Knowing that the red ball cap on the head of the punk mouthing off to you means you need to be extra careful in this area is important.

Spiritual issues include knowing wrong from right and having peace with destroying an enemy. There are times you should just back off and times you should go in full force. There are things to die for and things not worth it.

Technical issues are about how to use a knife, gun or your body. How many times has an attack ended after one bad punch was countered by one good punch? I have had to deal with strikers, grapplers, MMA, street fighters, multiple attackers and armed attackers. I am a long way from the "high speed, low drag" type but I have survived and for the most part won.

I would suggest that once you have these four things working for you that you will tend to come out on top. No matter how you get there.

04-23-2004, 08:28 AM
WS, I agree, spending a lot of time learning complicated moves isn't the formula for success for most people (read almost anyone). However, focus on basic submissions/locks that work from a large variety of angles and positions is quite beneficial. If you look at competitions, you see the basic submissions working the most. Basic armbars, rear naked chokes, triangles, heel hooks etc. These moves work because they are basic locks/chokes and can be applied from a large variety of angles and opportunities. Similarly, basic strikes like the right cross, left hook, knees etc land the most. That double turning back spinning inverted tornado hell kick looks cool, but it's not likely to ever land on anything but a bag. What most sport schools focus on is basic techniques and just repping the hell out of them until they are second nature and snap out of you reflexively.

I do agree completely with your point about attacking your attacker, learning specific movements to counter everything conceivable would take forever and would leave most people in a confused, slow state "he's throwing a left punch, what should I do now, lets see, his centerline is slightly off to my right and his balance is on his...." WHAM!

I guess the problem I have with most SD schools, is that they tend to focus on one of two formula's, 1) focusing on specific techniques for specific situations, which leaves their ability to adapt lacking, and their mental state unprepared.
2) spending the majority of their time developing situational awareness and the proper mindsets, which leaves their physical attributes lacking.

I think arl has the best post on here so far. As long as you get all of your areas down, you should be in good shape. If you lack in one, you're probably going to get hurt. What I see wrong most often, is the physical aspect neglected in favor of the mental, hence my liking the sporting gyms as they develop my phsyical, while I develop my mental on my own.

04-23-2004, 01:11 PM
Alex Gong ran out of the gym where he was training to chase after a car that ran into his parked car while wearing his thai boxing shorts and I believe even gloves!

The problem with most self defense schools, IMHO. Is that they spend too much time talking and thinking. The gym/dojo is a place to develop your physical prowess and abilities. While theory and thought processes (such as developing sit. awareness) are necessary. Spending time in the gym doing that wastes your time after you are made familiar with the theory.

The problem is that most gyms completely ignore the mental side (recognizing setups, street strategy, etc) which can leave the person training there to believe that he is getting all he needs with the physical.

I have yet to see or hear of a school that covered everything you need. Most of the psychological and intellectual needs cannot be met in a gym or school, they have to be filled on your own time.

Many gyms (and martial art and even self defense schools) do not recognize the need to teach anything outside of their physical ciriculum interspliced with a few thoughts and tactical tidbits (oh yeah, don't get caught unaware). They cover none of it outside the physical and some of the physical that they teach you is unsuitable for the street.

As for schools/trainers that do cover most if not everything (everything is a tall order), here is a list off the top of my head:

Carl Cestari, Rich Dimitri (www.senshido.com) (www.Senshido.com), Sammy Franco www.sammyfranco.com (http://www.sammyfranco.com), Peyton Quinn WWW.rmcat.com, Geoff Thompson, www.geoffthompson.com. Kelly McCann (AKA Jim Grover ) Also offers great stuff but I don't believe he is training the public anymore. Tony Blauer www.Tonyblauer.com offers some good things to if you can get past the verbage.

04-24-2004, 09:53 AM
How about this, try to find the school near you that you feel best prepares you for the street and suppliment it with the books & tapes that you think it is lacking or that improve upon what it teaches, and integrate what they cover with training partners, if possible?

04-24-2004, 04:10 PM
It also occurs to me that the word "self defense school" or "traditional" school, "or reality based self defense school" are such broad general terms with so many differences betwen the individual school that the words have become meaningless for converstaional purposes..

Sort of like shooting school. Do they teach skeetshooting, wing-shooting, self defense, etc?

Al Lipscomb
04-24-2004, 08:21 PM
V42 I think you hit on the bulk of it in your last two posts.

I always get a kick out the reaction I get when I tell someone I train at a Tae Kwon Do school. A "traditional" school at that. There is always someone who will point out that TKD is a sport based system and lacks key elements needed for a proper defensive system.

And the truth is that "pure" TKD is 100% sport based. But most of the older instructors (Grandmaster level) were already trained in a fighting system before TKD was formalized. Many of them are very skilled fighters and do know their stuff. Many fought in the Korean war.

So if you walk into many schools you can learn 9 forms, pad up and spar a little and get your black belt. That is about all the formal system requires. For many schools that is also the best they can do.

Our school is very different. Our head instructor is a Vietnam era Marine. Silver Star and three Purple Hearts. M60 gunner. And there is no missing the scars from the AK-47 rounds. He is 100% warrier. He tends to not be silly about what will happen in a real fight.

Of course I have my share of books and video to learn from, as well as cross training when I can. In my area I have been able to train under a Grandmaster level instructor in Modern Arnis and some of our TKD instructors have studied additional techniques.