I have decided to write down some lessons that we, meaning my students and myself learn from combative training. Firstly I would like to clarify what I mean by combative training, “my concept” of combatives includes just about everything, meaning stand up, ground, punching, striking, kicking as well as including all available weapons whether it be what you EDC or improvise, I personally do not believe in isolation training whereby you either do firearm or unarmed training, as you might learn something on the one side but cannot integrate with the other, hence I believe in trying to combine all your skills in every training session that you do, I also do not believe in the “pillar” fighting system where your partner basically support what you do, you can only do this when you start out with something, but your partner should provide you with full resistance in an obvious safe manner.
When you look at any “fighting” sport you will find predominantly that people fight in weight and sometimes skill or graded divisions, this makes sense from a sporting point of view as you want to keep everything on a level playing field, so you will generally find two opponents weighing about the same with the only difference sometimes in height and reach, and depending on the sport you will sometimes fight someone with more or less the same “level” as yourself. If in a sporting environment you do not adhere to this it will literally become a circus, as you might find someone weighing in at 75kg fighting someone that weighs 110kg, all things being equal the bigger guy will win and it will be called “unfair” as it should, but this does not mean that the bigger guy will always win, but if skill level happen to be equal I will definitely put my money on the bigger guy.
This is all good and well for the sporting arena, but as we all know criminals will do their utmost to tilt the scales in their favour, they will attack you when it is “least advantageous for you and best for them” they will almost always outnumber you, work from an ambush and have weapons already out in play just as you drive into your driveway as you get home from a very bad day.
Now coming back to lessons from combative class, does all of this mean that we have to follow the sporting route and let people train against each other while we divide them in size and gender, the answer to this is a resounding NO.
Probably my most committed student in my class is not just a great guy, but also rather large and strong, he has been there from day one, and the only one that never stopped since the beginning, so in statistics he is one out of twenty. Nowadays I am eating myself into oblivion but can’t get the scale to go over about 80kg, on the other side this student weighs in probably around the 110kg mark, put us in a “match” and you should bet on him.
Many years back when he started it was not really difficult for me “to win situations” as it should be, irrespective of weight difference, as skills and mindset trumps weight and strength. Now a couple of years later with his one class per week he has become a formidable opponent, no longer easy work for me, and on many occasion he gets the better of me, probably if you have to score our encounters I will beat him on points, but it is becoming extremely difficult as his skill level has literally shot through the roof, but the bottom-line stays the same, even if your opponent is far bigger and stronger that you, it does not automatically mean that he will get one over you, you have to fight hard and work even harder, but even on a 30kg difference you can still make it, you just have to work for it.
Now the principle of combative training is never actually to compete against anyone, neither trying to be better than someone else, as I just believe that it is a big waste of time, my goal both as trainer and as student is to become the best that I can be, but using my training partners to teach me and become better. In the future this student will probably start beating me more consistently and so he should otherwise I am a bad trainer, but the harder I have to work against him the more I learn, and the more I learn the more I grow, it then is up to me to improve myself and give him a harder time at it, or just merely to accept it and give up, I really think there is only one option here!
So when you go out and train, don’t confine yourself by going always against one opponent that you feel comfortable with, go against larger stronger guys then go against smaller and probably faster guys, get as much exposure as you can so that you can learn as much as you can. Don’t go out and lose a fight before it happens by saying O f..ck this guys is too big, or on the opposite by saying this guys is small and it is going to be a easy and then the guy has some super skills.
Our minds plays tricks with us, yes sure avoid fights at all costs, but if you have no other choice, then you have to fight, sure it is going to suck and someone is going to get hurt, but flick that switch and go “O ok let us see how my skills are against you as I need a good workout in any case”
In saying this, I would just like to thank my combative students for being a great bunch of people and teaching me so many things every week.