Televised bouts of "no holds barred" fighting such as Ultimate Fighting Championship or Pride matches have done wonders for raising the awareness of self-defense beyond the traditional karate class at the corner strip mall.
This "new" way of fighting was termed mixed martial arts, because when it came to really winning a fight, contestants found that they needed a combination of skills from wrestling, boxing and any of a bazillion other martial or combat arts systems.
There's no doubt that mixed martial arts competitors are some of the most highly skilled athletes on the planet.
But how would they fare in a real street fight against a real street fighter?
In the end, it comes down to the fighter's experience (among other things, of course) that will determine the victor.
So let's talk about that experience for a minute, because this is where I want to make my point.
While even the earliest, bloodiest forms of mixed martial arts competitions were pretty raw, there are no rules in a real street fight.
Law enforcement and military units have learned that you'll perform on the battlefield as you train, and that's why you train.
Same goes for fighting.
Mixed martial artists may train for a submission; criminals train for life or death.
Mixed martial artists may train for five-minute rounds; criminals fight for five- to 10-second devastation.
Mixed martial artists are not allowed to pull hair, bite, hit or kick the groin, or stomp on the head of a grounded opponent. The street criminal has learned that these are all valuable tools to destroy your opponent in the shortest amount of time.
Now the answer to preparing for this kind of violence is not to begin walking into biker bars and shouting out that they all need training wheels and then fine-tuning your skills in the back alley.
But if you're only training for mixed martial arts-type matches and ignoring the implementation of more brutal (and street valuable) attacks, then you one day may find yourself going for that arm bar while your attacker sticks a finger deep in your eye or motions to his friend to begin stomping on your head.
Combine the conditioning and versatility of mixed martial arts with a street-ready arsenal of options, and now you have a virtually undefeatable self-defense program.
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Jeff Anderson is a 10-year veteran of the U.S. Army, a master instructor of close quarters combat self-defense and president of the International Society of Close Quarter Combatants. A full-time, self-defense author and instructor, Anderson has trained military, law enforcement and civilians in advanced close quarter combat tactics for "real-life" self-defense.
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