Martial Intent, the wrong way

After the Crazy Monkey kung fu post, several people commented on how weird it looked. And also how this type of “go nuts and flip out” fighting might surprise you at first.

Surprise! I’m crazy!

The last part first. One of the fighting “temperaments” is just that: you flip out and go crazy, making you very unpredictable. It’s very surprising the first time you meet somebody like that. Unless you have lots of experience, you might get caught by a sucker punch form such an opponent. You see guys like this on the street for different reasons:

  • They’re pumping themselves up/intimidating you.
  • It just happens to be their preferred way fighting. (It happens.)
  • They’re crazy, as in certifiably so.
  • A combination of the above.

When you’re faced with such a person, it can go bad for you because of that unpredictability. You don’t have to lie down and start bleeding just yet, but there’s definitely an extra difficulty to these guys if you haven’t faced them before. My personal preferences:

  • If they’re not attacking you just yet but are flipping out, leave ASAP. If you can’t, strike first, very fast and hard. It’s hard to jump up and down and be all hyper-active when your knee is busted or your cracked ribs are sticking to your spine…
  • If they’re coming at you like that, you might like to:
    • Side step quickly and counter very, very hard.
    • Fire a powerful long range technique as they come in (balance is not their strong point) but only if you know you have the speed, power and timing to do the job of stopping them cold.
    • Grab a tool (preferably a big one) and hit them with it.

Obviously, anything can go wrong but in my experience, these guys are usually not prepared for an immediate and powerful response form you. I find the right mindset for this to be “I don’t care how crazy you are; I’ll just hit you really, really hard right away.”

What’s the point?

The first question remains: why on earth would somebody train like those guys in the video? For a variety of reasons actually. I covered the tactical surprise here above but there’s more.

Everybody now knows about the need for adrenal stress conditioning for effective self-defense. We’ve been fortunate that a lot of research became available in the last few decades, giving us the scientific framework to understand the psychological and physiological reasons for this.

But a couple hundred years ago, this knowledge didn’t exist. Nobody knew what adrenaline was, nor why the human brain reacts the way it does when you’re faced with violence or mortal combat. But that didn’t stop people from fighting and waging war. So they had to find ways to cope with the fear, weak knees and other undesirable responses to adrenal stress.

Going apeshit just like these guys is one of the ways to do that.

Think of the last time you were so pissed-off, angry as hell, ready to rip somebody’s head off. If somebody puts an aggressive opponent in front of you right then and there, you’re about as ready as you’ll ever be to defend yourself against him. Chances are, he’ll back down from the fight when he sees the look in your eyes.

I’m not saying it’s the best way but there are similar practices in many tribal and warrior societies. And for good reason because it works. It really does.  The easier it is for you to get to this worked up, the less reserve you’ll have to hurt the guy in front of you. In fact, you’ll be itching to cut loose. As a basic self defense mind-set, this is a good place to start:

  • Somebody is about to attack you.
  • A second later, you’re loaded up on adrenaline and your whole body goes into “Fight”-mode.
  • You’re also immediately extremely pissed off and ready to mutilate the guy.

If you can manage that, your odds of surviving the attack improve.

Wicked cool! I’m in!

Perhaps you shouldn’t go down that road just yet. There are several reasons why this training is a bad idea. First, because it looks stupid in training. I mean, just look at those Chinese guys…  But there’s more:

  • It takes a lot out of you, even in training. It’s draining both physically and emotionally.
  • If you do it too long or too much, it alters your character and invites in a host of psychological problems.
  • Those problems will eventually force you to make some bad decisions and create a nightmare of a life for you.

But the most important reason is this: it’s a beginner’s way to get ready for a fight.

Yes, you flood your system with adrenaline and it gears up for a fight in a heartbeat.

Yes, your mind-set is all about battle.

But unless you have loads of experience, almost all of your technical, tactical and strategical skills will be gone. You’ll resort to fighting on an primitive level, caveman style, hopefully hitting hard and fast enough so the other guy doesn’t have time to do damage.

As you’re overcome by that battle-rage, you don’t have mental energy left to see what the other guy is doing, which leaves you wide open. And you won’t even know your defense has holes in it, big enough to drive a truck through. Until it’s too late that is…

I’ve had people go nuts on me several times. Invariably, I nailed them with the tactics I explained earlier. The main reasons I could do so was exactly that: a total lack of defense. Their whole game is based on being more aggressive/offensive than you. Take that away from them and there’s not much left. Mind you, if they can nail you with one of their wild attacks, you’ll be in trouble. But if you can get your own power shot in first, the odds are good he won’t be able to defend against it.

What’s better then?

There are many different ways of building up your fighting mind-set, too many to mention here so I’ll quickly point you to some resources:

  • Read this post about Martial Intent and watch the clips of the Blacks doing their thing. The Haka is one of those traditional ways of preparing you for battle. See how they gear up both mind and body to fight, but they remain in control of themselves.
  • I wrote a chapter in Solo Training 2 about creating mental triggers. It covers the basics of programming the for both self defense and combat sports.
  • Loren also just released a great book called “Warrior Mindset” that’ll give you plenty of insight too.

This information will help you get started but let me tell you upfront there are no shortcuts. Some people naturally have a good fighting mind-set or it came to them after years of living in a dangerous place. Or they’ve been doing a high-risk job for so long, it’s just a part of them.

If that’s not you, you’ll have to work hard and for a long time to get to a point where you can program your mind effectively. And it’s rarely a fun thing to do.  It’s one of the areas of martial arts and self defense where “The Dark Side” is waiting for you. Or you might not like what you discover about yourself in the process. Which is why I always caution students when they ask me about this.

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Comments

  1. garry hodgins says:

    Hi Wim,

    Interesting post, again! Again I have something to say about this topic ( I talk a mean fight! ). As an Irishman I have an interest in celtic civilization and it is well documented (mostly from Greek and Roman texts, admittedly) that in ancient times the celts would taunt their opponents and psyche themselves up before a battle. Initially, because of their superior physique and the barbarous myth which surrounded them, they had great success in battle against the Romans. It can even be argued that their influence on the Roman psyche helped make the Romans become a superior military force because it forced them to confront their fears through discipline. I also had the great pleasure of growing up with an older sibling who had a compulsion to get into streetfights most every weekend. For years, his frothing mouthed, grunting demeanour used to scare the hell out of me. Then, from training martial arts and developing some knowledge and perspective, I began to realise that (a) the craziness was a cover for his fear and he was just as scared as I was, (b) he chose the majority of those he fought, it was not a take on all comers policy to street fighting and (c) his technique was terrible and he threw his punches from his waistline. If only I’d known these things when I was younger I could have saved myself years of anxiety. God bless martial arts!

    • Thanks Garry.
      Yes, these things seem to be present throughout societies from all over the world. As for the frothing mouth, I can understand why it throws you off at first. That said, after a while this type of behavior becomes transparent. the training sure does help in that regard.
      The last time a guy was mouthing off and started foaming at the mouth like that, all I could think off was “Just one move, make just one move…” But he never did. :-)

      • garry hodgins says:

        It hasnt happened to me in a very long time, so I must be doing something right! I’ve had more trouble in the past with disgruntled girlfriends after I’ve placed their foaming mouthed boyfriend on the pavement. Being brought up not to hit girls once left me spending a night in an E.R. I’ve since reviewed my perspective on the fairer sex. ” Targets and levers “, as someone once explained to me. LOL.

  2. garry hodgins says:

    Hi Wim,

    Interesting post, again! Again I have something to say about this topic ( I talk a mean fight! ). As an Irishman I have an interest in celtic civilization and it is well documented (mostly from Greek and Roman texts, admittedly) that in ancient times the celts would taunt their opponents and psyche themselves up before a battle. Initially, because of their superior physique and the barbarous myth which surrounded them, they had great success in battle against the Romans. It can even be argued that their influence on the Roman psyche helped make the Romans become a superior military force because it forced them to confront their fears through discipline. I also had the great pleasure of growing up with an older sibling who had a compulsion to get into streetfights most every weekend. For years, his frothing mouthed, grunting demeanour used to scare the hell out of me. Then, from training martial arts and developing some knowledge and perspective, I began to realise that (a) the craziness was a cover for his fear and he was just as scared as I was, (b) he chose the majority of those he fought, it was not a take on all comers policy to street fighting and (c) his technique was terrible and he threw his punches from his waistline. If only I’d known these things when I was younger I could have saved myself years of anxiety. God bless martial arts!

    • Thanks Garry.
      Yes, these things seem to be present throughout societies from all over the world. As for the frothing mouth, I can understand why it throws you off at first. That said, after a while this type of behavior becomes transparent. the training sure does help in that regard.
      The last time a guy was mouthing off and started foaming at the mouth like that, all I could think off was “Just one move, make just one move…” But he never did. :-)

      • garry hodgins says:

        It hasnt happened to me in a very long time, so I must be doing something right! I’ve had more trouble in the past with disgruntled girlfriends after I’ve placed their foaming mouthed boyfriend on the pavement. Being brought up not to hit girls once left me spending a night in an E.R. I’ve since reviewed my perspective on the fairer sex. ” Targets and levers “, as someone once explained to me. LOL.

  3. Hey Wim

    awesome article, also verry awesome video (kind a scarry also).
    Agree with what you say.

    Something i am thinking about:
    Is this kind of training perhaps noth more about phyiscal conditioning, than actual fighting.
    That al that jumping and going wild is to make their training, and practice of fighting techniques more harder.

    Check out this videos:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9yI0N-1Iyc
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQcvboZp_PU
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTTuiZ8SXoM&feature=related

    Despite their entertainment value this forms are probabley more based on conditioning, stamina, power and balance. Than actual fighting techniques.
    I don,t think a practitioner of this kind of forms wil also move in a fight like that.

    Perhaps the crazy monkey dudes are going wild to make the workout harder and to puth more pressure while they perform their techniques.
    Than that they actually train to fight that way (screaming, jumping around and go nuts).

    What are your thoughts on this?

    • Pieter,

      Modern wushu routines are a much diluted version of traditional forms. Their emphasis is very much on athleticism and performance. The martial aspect is not that important in these forms. But that doesn’t mean the movements from the old styles they used to make these forms are useless. Quite on the contrary. But it takes a good teacher to learn them. You won’t find many modern wushu teachers who know the applications. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

      • Oke thanks.
        Where i train we don,t study the martial applications.
        Our priority is to become good at taolu for demonstrations/competitions.
        the reason i practice it is for the conditioning, coordination, balance, the competitions/demonstrations and because it looks cool.
        personally i always thougt it were verry big combat moves, to make it more showy and physichal harder (standing in a low stance is harder than standing high).

        Again thanks for this addition on your article.

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