Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Entering the Fight

It has been my experience that the majority of martial arts focus on evading or avoiding engagement and on what to do once you're engaged in combat. Both of which are completely necessary and should be studied.

Of course, when I say the majority, it has to be understood that my scope is not large. I've been involved with several martial arts at depth and a bunch more in passing.

Then there are those that I only know based on magazine articles, books, videos, etc. Of which, I don't actually watch, read, or buy any more—I'm over it. That being said, it's quite possible that the information I have is out of date.

However, of the several that I have personally studied at depth, very few ever address in an organized, intentional way, the actual process of engaging—although many assume skills at this piece and focus on the engagement component.

That's a natural consideration and at first blush it seems complete. However, it has in my own fighting, not addressed all that there is a need to know and a need for skills at.

In reality, what I encountered in many of the engagements that I'd had—both inside and outside of training and against trained and untrained fighters—was that much of what is critical takes place during the process of engaging.

Think about it like this...if you have been in a fight and you've been hit, it gives the person who hit you an advantage typically. How big that advantage is, depends on the hit and the target.

I've seen people get knocked out cold with one hit. I've come close to that myself. I've also seen people get overwhelmed after they have been hit the first time by an attackers follow ups. I've also been the one overwhelming someone.

It's not always the case, but with regularity the advantage will go to the individual(s) who land the first blow or blows.

Now imagine if your ability to understand that process of engaging were increased as both the receiver and giver. Do you think that might make a difference?

In Pencak Silat Pertempuran we call it Entering or Masuk. Through the study of the process of engaging many other small but important areas of learning begin to manifest themselves.

One such example is the understanding of telegraphic and non-telegraphic movement in both offensive and “defensive” actions. True, meaningful understanding of this one aspect can dramatically change your abilities in combat.

A second example is a deeper understanding of the nature of defensive versus offensive engagement. Acting defensively in a manner that will bring you combative success requires certain skills that are specifically for “turning the tables,” such as:

  • Recognizing when an attacker is committing to attack, versus merely feinting
  • Offering, as bait, options to draw an attack
  • Being aware of attack generation points
  • Learning to effectively Zone attacks
  • Countering attacks
  • Learning how the type of attack can determine your ability to counter. Jab v. Hook v. Lunging
  • Proper range for tool and maintaining capable countering range
  • Reactive v. Active action
  • Moving mentally from defense to offense
  • etc.

Likewise, acting in offense requires a deeper understanding of your own skill sets. Such as:

  • Telegraphing (as mentioned earlier)
  • Set-points
  • Explosiveness
  • (Most of the above skills converted to offense)
  • Pre-Altercation Warning Signs
  • Flow

These are just a few off the top of my head. You must be able to understand all three phases of engagement. And honestly, even post engagement training is good. Things like meditation, counseling, legal issues, etc.

All of this organized process eventually leads someone to broader more organic study but that's a whole different topic.


Pencak Silat Pertempuran


Badd Bob said...

Lots of complexity to sort through here my Brother.

My limited experience comes from so many years ago I feel like I'm watching a silent movie when I reflect back on what I know.

I feel you start on defense, but must transition very quickly to the offense. Defense to me was always simply a mechanism to study your opponent. You are correct that he who lands the first blow typically has a large advantage. From a legal stand point (which you refer to later), it is always best to start from a defensive posture to allow your opponent to go on the attack first. That also allows you to see what you are dealing with and to work from a self-defense posture legally. As you mention, "Offering, as bait, options to draw an attack" to me was always very effective. It allows you to steer the first phase of the engagement to your advantage and hopefully to a VERY quick end. If your training serves you well, their "first blows" will be deflected.

I also like your reference to the post engagement training. I call it the chapter of the book most often overlooked. Attila the Hun, used to bring his leaders together at night after the fight to reflect on what went right and what went wrong in the battle. Reflection is a critical path in the pursuit of perfection or as the Japanese call Kaizen (continual improvement). Turn your eyes inward to see what you can do to improve. In the "old days" you had to rely on your memory. That is the beauty of these videos you post. We can replay and replay and replay. I'm enjoying watching these!!

Sean Stark said...

Hey Badd Bob—Yeah, you don't have to start on defense. That's just what we know is legally safe. However, it is also good to know that if there is reasonable doubt of threat you can act offensively.

In any case, you're absolutely right. If you start in defense you must quickly move to offense, but quickly doesn't mean immediately. It means, when it's appropriate. The reality is, if you are acting defensively, you are behind the curve. At every attack you are the one who has to catch up. To move then from a time frame that is behind to a time frame that is ahead of your attacker can be challenging for people. You must train it. You absolutely must.

You must also train for getting hit. And then STILL doing what you're trained to do.

Well the videos are obviously good but they are still at learning speed and for people to get a flavor of what you do.

In reality, the timing ratio is an often over-looked component to the protagonists training regimine. Of course, because you ALWAYS win. The reality of comat is quite different though...