Article:    Right/Riot on track

The recent riots have shown that we’re right on track with our current  approach to training. Of course training isn’t only about fighting in the street. However, self protection is vital in troubled times. Self protection then self perfection could be the mantra. Whatever your approach there’s lots to be learnt from training in a multiple opponent and weaponry scenario. Firstly as the Chinese classic the Sun Tsu says ‘ fighting the many is like fighting the few’ . It then goes onto say it is division and counting which doesn’t quite fit on a more personal street level. It is though about positioning and division, blocking their attack with one of their friends whether downed or in some sort of clinch from you. Eight opponents around you with you in the centre is eight opponents. Break out of the circle and you’ve got two lines of four who invariably get in each others way. Also if you clinch one then you can block off one line and use him as a shield or with the correct choke and a wall at your back hold off lots of attackers. So obviously the clinch work we’ve been doing and the way we’ve been working on transitions is ideal training for this scenario.

On a deeper level what happens is that as you concentrate on the other opponent or your position relative to attacking groups you delegate some or all of the work of transitioning and feeling the state of the clinch to your arms and body and surprise surprise it does it really well and gets better the more it does of it. Your head is now doing what it should have been doing all along;  dealing in strategy and the grand scheme of things eg survival.  In my limited experience most people who are clinched in a group attack stay pretty passive. They’ve taken a few licks from you hopefully and now wait for their friends to finish the job or not. This attitude and the violent movement and chaos of a real fight mean that they’re not often set up either physically or mentally to carry the fight to you but they’re opportunistic if the tables turn so you’d better be doing well.

Weaponry is also a great leveller and also a great teacher. Angles and concepts that are hard to understand with empty hands can often become clear when using a weapon. Arrogance about power and your ability to take a good hit ‘just like your dad did’ disappear when the hand is holding a knife or a hammer. Similarly those who are reluctant to move start moving pretty fast when you have a knife in one or both hands. This is how it should be. The warriors of old trained everything so that their were no surprises and ‘everything’ teaches you ‘everything’. In that I mean that each art or part of the art teaches you something that you can bring back to inform the rest of your training. These insights are invaluable. Grappling changes your boxing, boxing changes your grappling, Kicking changes boxing and weapons change everything. As the riots have shown you don’t get to choose the rules or the weapons or the location. You do however have to adapt, and fast.  Above all in this sort of scenario you’ve got to get in the zone. Hear the hum that comes when you’re not concentrating on specifics but have that disembodied state where you can see everything and it’s moving slowly. Knowing that if you concentrate too much you’ll be back in real time and struggling. Training should give you opportunities to experience this feeling without getting broken in half. Double stick training is one of my favourites as you get there most easily as your brain becomes overwhelmed so you have to let go to flow with the pattern. Another is the tag fighting we’ve been doing recently which helps a lot here.

Therefore you need skills and strategies to one; slow things down. Hence the clinch and positioning stuff from earlier. Have done multiple opponent or weaponry work before so you’re better equipped with relevant experience and most importantly be well conditioned because if there’s one big fail point in fighting of any sort it’s lack of conditioning. We’ve been training really hard recently so that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Hopefully you wont ever be in a riot or any violence but the lessons you can learn by keeping that as a motivator of your training are immense. Let’s look at some of them:

Cardiovascular conditioning will save your life not only in street fighting but in health. I’m the only man in my street of my age who hasn’t had a triple bypass.

A more strategic view where you don’t get bogged down in detail but see the greater game and look for your opportunities has to be good. The ability to go with the flow is immense. With multiple opponents, as in life, you can’t have a fixed position you can only have the best one at this moment .

Delegation: If you can delegate to your hands and legs in combat then you can delegate to other people in life in general. That’s huge leverage.

See that structure and form are more important than just working hard. If you’re getting hit from all sides then it’s time to break out of the circle and slow things down and line them all up and deal with them at more of your tempo. A good wall at your back helps be it physical or emotional.

Lastly find ways you can enter the void where things go slower and fear is not the driver but your disembodied self looks at things unfolding. That way you act purer with less reservation and quicker more natural timing.

Happy rioting.