Running Some Numbers: The Fighting Formulas

For me, fighting is always "more like checkers and less like chess." Another favorite line is "starting from the fight and working backwards," and that also seems to simplify things. Reduces the abstract.

     I think the formula is, a person needs to collect about 4 or 5, maybe 6 things that will work for their shape, size, age, strength. The task is collecting those things for you, personally. From whom? How to decipher them? And working on them to develop the time, grade and savvy to be successful. My favs aren't always your favs, but they probably are, to some extent. But not always.

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     The problems of complication begin in thee "working on the basics" – workout stage, and with the human desire to challenge yourself, fight boredom, etc … somehow, usually this becomes add, add, add. There have been many comments and essays by smart people about losing touch with the important basics for whatever reason and getting "technique-crazy," adding on, and, or doing  alot of unnecessary stuff. Art for art sake? The study of simple fighting for some also becomes an addictive hobby, or a complete obsession with a traditional art, perhaps? And with these complications and distractions, we can lose the "reality" way, things get abstract and we start building larger wooden ships inside larger glass bottles. The more matchsticks, the bigger the bottle, the more fragile.




"…we can lose the "reality" way, things get abstract & we start building larger wooden ships inside larger glass bottles. The more matchsticks, the bigger the bottle, the more fragile."


      When they ask various all-pro, football lineman, what they plan to do for the upcoming Superbowl game, they answer, "the same 5 things I always do." Whether it's the Superbowl or not. But then look at all the support work (dare I say "skill" drills) that built this all-pro, Superbowler! The time. The grade. The savvy. The "touch." Testing what does and doesn't work. Pushing the envelope.

     Anyone can hit and shove a football, tackling dummy. Anyone can punch a heavy bag. Anyone can wrestle with a grappling dummy on the floor. Anyone can shoot a paper target. The trouble starts when the criminal or soldier moves and thinks and shoots back. Then the formula starts looking like "attack, counter, counter the counter (which is another attack)…". Or for some situations, "defend/counter-attack, counter the defense." I mean, what if he zigs when you zag? What if he blocks the almighty strike or kick? Did anyone say you might be ambushed? How many situations and positions are there? Suddenly there is the chaos theory of problem-solving?

 So, 4 to 6 or 8 favorite things?  Then the question becomes, is that also:

4, 5, 6 fav things for the hand?

4, 5, 6 fav things for the stick?

4, 5, 6 fav things for the knife?

4, 5, 6 fav things for the gun?

4, 5, 6 fav things for the ground with hand, stick, knife and gun? (that mean 4 for the topside? 4 bottom? and then 4 side-by-side?)

4, 5, 6 fav things for……what?

     Trainers frequently mention the few fundamental boxing strikes – jab, cross, hook, cross, uppercut, overhand, and how boxers work for years on them in combinations. Do the math on the combinations in sets of two, three and four. Lots of numbers there. Filipino master and veteran stick fighter, Remy Presas use to say that you need just "a few favorite fake and strike moves." More combinations for success. That basic, yet very necessary 4, 5, 6 moves numbers you absoutely need to know, seem to quickly increase by topic and combinations. Remy also said, "You practice your whole life for a 4 second stick fight." And for all the many Filipino stick techniques FMA systems have, Remy would stop, grin and say, "of course, I could just hit him in the head with my stick."  

     And when you are always looking around for the "better 4 things," this search never ends. It shouldn't end, actually. It's part of the time and grade and testing thing. Knowing what doesn't work and why is important info for an instructor.  

    So, what can be universal in the math? What can be made simple and trained universally? Cross-categories? Core stuff? Like Footwork and maneuvering, both standing or on the ground, while holding or not holding weapons-is one. Or punching (hand strikes), as punching can be done standing, kneeling, seated and on the ground while empty-handed, while holding a stick, while holding a knife, while holding a pistol, and with a slung, long gun.

     I always use the "who, what, where, when how and why" formula questions to help me decide the figures. And to help other people decide their 4, 5, 6 things. The "Who Question." Who are you really and who do you think you will really be fighting? And then what exactly is this "street fight" everyone keeps talking about? Drunken idiots? A mugging? Kidnapping? Alley rape? Or, a subway fight? A bar-fight? A school fight? How does it differ from a police fight? A military fight? A family fight between a nephew and an uncle (probably the most common fights are domestic violence) Or, an "office fight." Or, when an active shooter walks into your office? Who really needs what, when, and what checkers fits the bill for most?

kicking while held



You can do all your favorite kicks, but can you do them while being held too?



    I am not a universal, "dumber-downer." I do think different people's baselines are higher than others. Defining the "basics" for them probably is different than for me, as I am a mediocre athlete. I like to leave a large, window open in my doctrine for special people to excel. But while the basics are the same, the "need to know" and "should also know," basic numbers do increase. As do the support speed, skill and flow prescriptions to develop people's athleticism and savvy. Lots of numbers huh?

     Checkers and chess. Someone once said, “our training, and thus our practice, should be designed to be as simple as possible and as complex as is necessary.”

     The instructor has a lot to think about and weigh. A lot to learn and a lot to know. The struggle is keeping it as basic as possible, and customized for the individual. What are those 4, 5, 6 things? Checkers. Not chess (unless of course, you're teaching Bobby Fischer).  


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