Two Ways that Fights Can Start Up

 I would like to identify two types of physical attack "starters." But first, as for situational starters, when I often say – 

"life is either an interview or an ambush," 

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… and I mean that it is in the most broad and generic of terms. Whether in business, marriage, child-rearing, or in gang fights, you are either surprised (ambushed) or have a few seconds or even longer trying to figure out what's going on and take some course of action (which would be the interview). So, in the most generic sense, most fights, even arrests, start this way. A clever person once added that, "You could have an interview to set up the ambush or an ambush to set up an interview!" But it still starts with these two terms and situations.

     Having covered that set of two very broad, primitive ideas – the interview or the ambush – which also is the subject of another essay,  let's be even more definitive then in a category of two actual physical, "fight-starting movements and moments," because this smaller, refined slice of a fight is important enough to discuss. Very important, especially when it comes to training methods. I have come to believe that many people train one way or the other way, but rarely both ways with the proper priorities.  

     The confronting aggressor does two common fight starters in the Stop 1 "showdown" of our Stop 6 – the Stand-Off confrontation and the Mad-Rush attack. You might summarize with the phrase "close and not close."

Close or Closer – The Stand-Off/Confrontation. He stands before you with his routine, be it the stare down, the bullying threats, or the yelling. Finger pointing? Even stupid chest bumping. You know what a bully does. You know what the instigator does. The pusher. The prodder. He's the troublemaker and the sucker puncher.  

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      His measured and acquired distance is usually way too close for natural comfort. You try to fix that quickly and move, and he dances in and around with you trying to maintain that distance. This attack starts too close and tries to stay too close for comfort. Lots of sucker-punch problems here. Lots of strikes and not from a classic fighting stance either. 

     I know instructors will bark at you that you screwed up by letting him too close, but let me warn you that this sudden, surprise closeness can and does happen to the best of us in real-life situations. In a flash! I should know. I, too, have been jumped despite all the warnings I spout. If you think you cannot be surprised like this? You are naive. 

Not Close – The Mad Rush. I had coined this term for our training programs back in the 1990s and made some video tapes on the subject; but now the original video format is long gone with days of the VHS, and I am too lazy to make a new one. But the idea of the Mad Rush remains. This is when the guy is a bit distant, makes a mean face, maybe roars, and charges in like a madman.  Think about someone with road rage for one easy example.

     Maybe there was no Stand-Off argument or encounter, or maybe he steps back from the above verbal encounter and then charges in on you. But the real action officially starts not too, too close in, but rather from a bit back. He has time and distance to intensely charge in. He creates momentum.

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Training for the Stand-Off and the Mad Rush

     So through the years when we (and all teachers by the way) organized material and training, one phase of the instruction looked like the stand-off.  It has too. You have to start somewhere! You have to practice in a digestible progression. Two people stand before each other. Kind of close. He throws. You respond. The same with ground fighting. At some point, two people have to start laying on the ground atop one another or side-by-side in some way, to begin to learn the moves. 

     "And a one, and a two, and a three…."

      Maybe four? Etc. But I think this level, step-by-step, this learning speed, this quarter or half intensity, and this space is also the part practiced too much in many systems. We forget to experience the opening Mad-Rush attack. 

     Just one example easy to relate to? This is especially evident to me in the tons of martial arts; to name one, the martial arts "stick-people" work with each other, the key word being with. People spend a ton of time doing these specific stick routines or something like three-step-encounters with partners, really not registering any real speed or intensity involved. So at that slower speed level, they "get it." They get good at the move but at that more intense, training speed for anygry realism.  

     Not to pick on stick training, because this approach is done by all, all wrestlers, BJJ-ers, boxers, Kravers, and you name it; everyone digests these things in small, slow bits. This is a staple method. Understand that the Stand-Off is an important part of the learning progression. And usually people get good at that specific thing, at that specific distance, and at that rate and speed. But then, are you now done? No.     

     Next I'll ask one of the two practitioners to take a few steps back, make a mean face, yell, and charge in. A Mad Rush. Very often this other person cannot do what he or she had previously done so well at the static, stand-off range. Quite often, the first time these people are charged, they step back and collapse under the pressure. They lose the plan. Do it it till they keep the plan.

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     I think this hand, stick, knife even sometimes gun, Mad-Rush training is always a good idea with just about anything you are practicing. Do the "Stand-Off" version. Do the "Mad-Rush" version. Get folks used to ALWAYS doing the "Mad-Rush" version with each set of moves. I know some instructors who will start with the Mad-Rush version, almost like a demo first, and then break it down for skill development and then building back up to the fast version. Such is a another, proven learning method. 

     Plus, without getting too technical, these progressive coaching methods of learning are recorded as tried and true based on a ton of research starting since the 1950s and really enhanced in the 2000s.

     Next and,or with the Mad Rush, add in some chaotic, freestyle aspects; and that's another essay – but the chaos still starts either close up or from a rush, so you see that recognizing these two "start-ups" are important for training. 

    Close and Not-Close start-ups. Learn the Stand-Off. Face the Rush.

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Many of these particulars are found in Stop1 of the Stop 6

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