Man gets sucker punched and stomped

Mark Mireles sent me a video of what looks like a police briefing. It seems to be covering this incident here. From the news report and watching this video, here’s what seems to have happened:

An 18-year old man is standing near his house and a group of men are close to him. They are looking for people involved in an earlier attack and think he’s part of that group. He says otherwise, but they attack him anyway.

As always: we weren’t there. Anything we say about this is purely an opinion (and we all know about those…)

That said, take a look at the video first:

Some thoughts about this incident:

  • Leave. When a group of people confronts you about your part in an alleged attack, leave immediately if you can. Nothing good can come of that. The young man seems completely unaware of any danger.
  • Blind spot. The big guy who was watching cross-armed suddenly moves in to the man’s blind spot. It looks like he was cued by something the aggressor said/did, perhaps they did this dance before and know the routine well.  Regardless, the way it’s done here, it’s a blatantly obvious move. If you see this happen: act immediately.
  • One-shot KO. The sucker punch lands and he’s knocked out. There is no fight, there is only one punch and he’s unconscious, at the mercy of his attackers. They show very little mercy…
  • Excessive force is always on the table. He gets robbed, punched, kicked stripped of his pants and stomped. Some of those attacks are potentially lethal blows. Once you’re out, there is no way to know just how far your attackers will take it. It might be nothing at all, it might be all the way to your grave.

This kind of incident is best seen as a warning. The most practical defense against it is not being there. Learn to spot pre-attack cues and get out of there, even if that means trying to go through that group to get to safety. Chances of winning the day when you stand and fight are pretty low, so try to avoid the fight altogether.

The effectiveness of traditional Chinese martial arts

The effectiveness of traditional Chinese martial arts has been questioned a lot, ever since it rose to prominence in the 1970’s when Bruce Lee splashed onto the big screen. We’ve come a long way since then and martial arts/self-defense today are not what they were back then. Many techniques and training methods that were the norm back then are nowadays discarded and considered ineffective. In a larger sense, this is true for many other martial arts and fighting systems as well.

Some teachers have taken it upon themselves to dig into those traditional arts and bring out their value in today’s environment. One of them is Iain Abernathy, who I met a while ago and is a great guy. He teaches a practical approach to Karate. On his website, there was a discussion about teaching traditional Chinese martial arts (in particular forms) in a practical way. You can read up about it here. Iain said some kind words about me (thanks Iain!) so I decided to write this blog post and share some thoughts.

As always, this is nothing but my personal opinion. It isn’t gospel, so feel free to discard it.


The current state of traditional Chinese martial arts

As mentioned in the forum discussion, karate gets a lot of bad press for not being effective in a “real fight” and one of the commenters claimed that this isn’t a big issue in Chinese arts. I beg to differ. There is loads and loads of crap out there (there is a lot of good too, but I’m going to focus on the bad in this article.) There are way too many people who really shouldn’t be teaching at all, because they both haven’t done the time to own their art and/or don’t understand it. That may be because their teachers didn’t understand it enough to pass it along correctly or perhaps information got lost along the way, I don’t know. Regardless, I’ve seen more practitioners doing ineffective traditional Chinese martial arts than effective ones.

This seems to be a particular problem in Western countries. You can often see schools teaching what they consider is a traditional style, but without the things that make it effective. Meaning, the things that were originally included in that style before it came to the West. An understanding of the purpose and methodology of practicing forms is a big part of that. Some of the explanations regarding forms and the practical applications they’re supposed to teach you see those teachers demonstrate are nothing more than best guesses or complete falsehoods to avoid exposing their lack of knowledge.

To be clear: maintaining the effectiveness of traditional Chinese martial arts is not just a problem in the West. It is now very hard to find good teachers of traditional styles in China. Young people don’t really feel like going through that kind of harsh training any more, so those teachers have trouble finding students. As a result, those arts are dying out.

All in all, given the number of practitioners out there, I’d say the percentage of them having the “real thing” is pretty low. This isn’t necessarily their fault, but it still leaves them coming up short.

effectiveness of traditional Chinese Martial arts - Shaolin

Me, in Shaolin in 1991

 What happened?

A lot of factors came together to create the current situation and I’ll only touch on some of them here below: [Read more…]

Police brutality: Black man gets arrested for no reason!

This isn’t the usual kind of article I write. It’s a bit different.

Because of that, I’m going to ask for your patience: please read until the end before you form an opinion or comment (we’ll get back to that.)

I’ll explain my reasons why and some more thoughts about all this afterwards.

First take a look at this example of police brutality during the arrest of a black man, for no apparent reason.

What do you see here in this disgusting video?

A couple of things:

  • The officer violently takes the man down. Like a coward, he grabs the man from behind and yanks him brutally to the ground.
  • His partner shows up and goes crazy. He starts beating the crap out of the poor black man with his night stick. It’s insane!
  • They almost crush him to death. They ram their knees into him so hard he almost gets crushed. The poor black man cries for help, he’s clearly in fear of his life.
  • They should be thrown in jail. These officers are clearly incompetent and could have killed that man.

I’m sure you are feeling outraged and angry right now.

Before you go on, it’s important that you watch this video again.

This is an even longer version, with more details of what the officers did. Watch it all the way to the end! [Read more…]

Street Fighting Mistakes: Every Fight Is To The Death

There are many street fighting mistakes that need to be exposed and this is perhaps one of the most common: thinking that every street fight is to the death.

I’ve seen numerous self-defense instructors and their students claim you should always use lethal techniques, treating every street fight as if the other guy is trying to kill you. That simply isn’t the case, not by a long shot.

There is a problem though, a particular issue inherent to all violence, and I’ll cover that later in this article, but first let’s look at an example of a street fight not devolving into death and destruction.

The usual disclaimer:

  • I wasn’t there and neither were you. So all we can do is interpret and give an opinion on what we see. No more, no less.
  • I don’t know what happened before the video starts or if after it ends. Maybe the guy walked away, maybe he got beat up anyway. No clue.
  • Just because it worked in this video, doesn’t mean it will always work. Nothing does, violence is too unpredictable.

That said, here is the video:

Some of the critical points in this incident:

  • Leather Jacket is talking lots of trash. He’s going on a righteous tirade in French, calling Grey Jacket a dirty faggot and more. He’s escalating things really hard.
  • He avoids a first intervention. The guy next to Grey Jacket gets ready to step in, but he is stopped by the guy in the hoodie. Leather Jacket keeps on insulting Grey Jacket, doesn’t reposition, nothing. He’s oblivious to the danger.
  • He avoids a second intervention. Grey Jacket slaps Leather Jacket’s hand down, steps into the street and it looks like he’s getting ready to start the fight. Leather Jacket doesn’t care and yells at the guy to hit him.
  • He is completely blindsided. Mr. Dreadlock catches him completely by surprise as he rushes in and drives him down on the ground. He gets very quiet as Mr. Dreadlock talks to him and eventually lets him up with the clear message to move on. Mr. Dreadlock seems to go away to hand off his glasses and make the guy leave, but he doesn’t return for an unknown reason.
  • He’s not sure what to do next. Leather Jacket waves his finger about a bit and seems unsure how to proceed. Go away? Get back to whipping himself into a frenzy? The video ends before we find out.

As a friend of mine would say: no blood, no foul. Street fight avoided and everybody gets to go home alive and (more or less) unharmed.

Could this have turned into a full fight? [Read more…]

The brutal consequences of a street fight

Something that tends to be overlooked, in particular by young and fit men, is the potential brutal consequences of a street fight and just how extreme these can get. They’ve all seen videos of how a guy gets knocked out and then a few people step in before things get worse, thinking that’s how it goes. For sure, this happens. It happens a lot actually, in particular when you look at the typical dominance display and puff-up-your-chest fighting young, inexperienced men tend to gravitate towards. The critical mistake is thinking this is the only kind of street fight or violence that exists.

There are others.

Here is one such example. As always, a caveat:

  • We weren’t there. All observations on this video are nothing but an opinion, not a fact.
  • We don’t know what caused this. There is no way of knowing what was said, done or threatened to make this street fight happen.
  • I’m not making any judgements on who is right or wrong. I don’t have enough facts to decide on that. My comments pertain only to the incident itself.

Please keep this in mind when you read the rest of this article.

If the video starts from the beginning, skip ahead to 2min. 7sec. That’s where the incident begins.

Here goes:

Some observations about this video:

  • It looks like “No-shirt” wants to de-escalate things. We don’t know what he says, but he seems to want to avoid a fight and get away. He goes to grab his jacket and then attempts to leave.
  • The other guy escalates it. He gets in the way and blocks No-shirt in his tracks. He also closes into striking distance. No-shirt pushes him away and tries to keep going.
  • He strikes first. The other guy opens the fight with a backhand slap to the face and then it’s on.
  • Everything goes downhill from there. No-shirt quickly takes the upper hand and things devolve into the brutal consequences I want to talk about here below.

Some lessons we can learn from all of this: [Read more…]