For a little while--before training with Rickson--I subscribed wholeheartedly to Vunaks attribute theory, or what might be called the "fallacy of technique." It is not, the argument went, technique itself but things like speed, strength, timing, balance, coordination, etc. that made fighters and ended fights. This makes perfect sense in Vunak's own context at the time, i.e. coming out of/and speaking out against, to a degree, a JKD concepts/trapping approach that was all about accumulating more knife disarms, wooden dummy forms, and Thai pad counts that looked more like karate than Muay Thai.
But what about in a new context? The one I am considering is (the admittedly limited) 2005 MMA, most recently Kevin Randleman's being handily choked out by Mirko Crocop. Mirko is tough, but hardly a master grappler. He simply had a good sprawl and good hold on Randleman's neck. But, rather than attempting any of the techniques one would normally learn in a few months of BJJ, Randleman continued to try to finish the double-leg. This after about 10 years in and around MMA, and seeing his own coach, Mark Coleman, triangled by Noguerra and armbarred by a crosstrained striker, Fedor.
Can anyone with a straight face say that Randleman lacks attributes (forget about his unnatural looking muscles, watch his vertical leap in warmups!!!)?!? I think not. Then, perhaps, most people would say that technique, and the intelligence to pursue it intelligently, is equally important. And I would agree. But I would also add that in MMA, where people are, in theory, matched against others roughly their own size and also well conditioned and motivated, it may be more important. I have seen Rickson in his early fights in Japan caught in many guillotines, but never even close to finished. Same thing for Vanderlei and many others. How should we explain this difference?
And, finally (for now), in a fit of contrariness, I will say it is even more important than that for self-defense for exactly the opposite reason. IOW, you may not assume that you will be the same size or strength as your opponent(S), therefore making technique one of the only things you can control.
(All that said, I still believe in the importance of attributes for making delivery systems work, just thought I would suggest a hierarchy: A fast car with a tank full of high octane gas is best. Any car without gas is not a good thing, but it may, with ingenuity, be converted to run on alcohol or other things. But gas and alcohol alone will not even take you out of your driveway.)
Happy New Year,