The Gladiators are dead!

People training against opponents who don't resist back, doing forms against imaginary opponents, movements that are so fanciful that they relate more to dance than fighting, punching with your hand on your hip, mystical chi and not too mention the deadly Death Touch! For many martial art 'style' this seems to be a very prevalent theme. It just seems quit obvious to someone who has actually had to fight for real (And no I don't mean a little scuffle with some drunk outside a bar), or anyone who has been in actual combat in the military (Or the likes) that fights never look like that, not nor do they happen in the way these people are training.

I ask myself continuously (And many people ask me) if what they are doing is so 'obviously' not functional and the chances of making it work is so minimal, why then do people still gravitate to these teachers to be taught how to die faster. Some of the most obvious reasons could be that they don't know any better, that they are attracted to the mystery surrounding the style and that they want to believe with their very being that what their instructor is telling them is true, even though logic is saying the opposite.

I think to some degree that the above conclusions are correct, but I would suggest that there is no longer urgency and this would be one of the main factors people still train in these environments. What I mean by this is that there is no longer a real threat anymore for most people participating in the martial arts, other than the fantasy and paranoia conjured up in there own mind. A real threat means a daily use for what they are learning i.e. to defend themselves. Because of this it allows instructors to misuse their position, by not coaching functional reality based martial arts. There is no real reason; a life and death reason for them to ensure that what they coach is the real deal. Likewise their students have no reason to question as the reality they find themselves in there daily lives, rarely presents an opportunity to use what has been taught, this brings about complacency and an accepting mindset. Therefore any real questions on behalf of the student to the instructor are of no real value beyond the questions of fantasy and paranoia.

In a seminar several months ago and subsequent seminars, I asked attendees to put up there hands how many of them had been in a real fight in the last 6 months. Out of sixty participants less than two or three put up there hands. When asking the question again, but going back in time by two or three years less than six put up there hands. In subsequent seminar and classes I have asked the same questions and the percentage rate of people actually getting into fights seems to have been around the 10% mark. Intrigued by this I decided to ask all of the people I know off currently training with us who came from a traditional background, why they where now training at our gym. 90% said because they had found themselves in a difficult situation (i.e they had to defend themselves or got into a fight) and realized they where not equipped to handle it, nor did they really know what to do. The other 10% had seen my athletes compete in Mixed Martial Arts competitions or had watched other MMA events. In both cases these people began to question, and through critical thinking came to the conclusion that to find something more functional and realistic was the most rational thing to do. So because there is no longer this urgency it is very easy for instructors to get away with teaching absolute rubbish while the general public just laps it up.

Many of these instructors don't know any better themselves, again for the same reason that there is no urgency for them as well. There instructors most probably where in the same situation and so forth. Over generations of people teaching a style of martial arts, with little or no reason to actually prove itself on the battlefield one can only conclude what the end result would be. A style of martial arts that on the one hand has slight resemblance to a real fighting discipline, but on the other side has forgotten about functionalism and reality. A fantasy is born. And out of these fantasies instructors now feel the necessity to protect this creation by creating rituals, titles and an enforcing hierarchal structure. Deep inside many of these instructors, lay fears and insecurities, a nagging conscience that there ability is truly a shame. Strict codes of conduct, lengthy rituals are created like standing in an obscure stance for hours on end to test the students resilience, and a slow learning process is developed to ensure the position of power of the instructor. The instructor then continues by projecting paranoia on his students, enforcing his position as the all seeing all knowing leader, who has all the answers (And the style itself).

Many of the traditional styles do no sparring against resisting opponents who actually fight back and are not choreographed. For those who do, they get told that for the fact that they can control a speeding punch just stopping inches from an opponent in a semi-contact environment, that this very control will enable them to strike with devastating force when the time arises. Even those who do sparring often only do so in one range, for example standing-up, forgetting that many fights land up in the clinch and on the ground. That practicing a form of prearranged attacking and defensive moves against an opponent who is not there, will increase there muscle memory and these very same reactions will come out when it is really needed. Mystical death touch, where you are able to hit someone and knock him down without ever touching him is one of my personal favorites. The list goes on.

But one can see the attraction to this environment. You never really have to get hit or experience what a real fight would be like. You can pretend to fight against people who are not there, somewhat like my two year old son does when he is pretending to box someone, but hey there is no chance of getting hurt doing that. You can train and do simulated attack and defense drills, that are choreographed, with the opposite person giving no resistance, again no chance of getting hurt there or actually putting anything on the line. Even better, you don't even have to do any real alive training such as sparring, because the techniques are so deadly that you can't use them. And lastly you can pretend that your style is so deadly that your Phoenix fist will stop any grappler or any opponent for that matter. My point is it becomes a land of illusion and to make it even better, you get nice colored belts that lets everyone know how deadly you are and how far you are up the hierarchal ladder.

To actually get on the mat and spar, against a resisting opponent, who is not telling you what he is going to do, with the real chance of it going anywhere between the stand-up, clinch or ground games and possibly getting hurt, I mean why would someone want to do that? This would mean you would have to face all your fantasies of what a fight would be like head on, including you paranoia, fears and not too mention your inflated ego.

No! it's much better to go back to that environment where you can pretend that your style has all the answers, where size and strength does not matter (Or that's what you are told but who are you to question the instructor and a style that has been around for hundred of years), where your senior belt and sash is revered by those subordinate to you, where all your fantasies of what you watched on those old Chinese martial art movies could come true as well as the legend you have created of yourself in your mind, who can beat anyone with a swish of the hand all of this done in an environment where you never have to get hit or really put your egoic self on the line. It sounds just perfect doesn't it?

It is important to realize that the very instructor who promotes these illogical views and teaching methods, operates from a matrix in which they and there followers simultaneously indoctrinate and reindoctrinate one another. Therefore such an instructor is much a creature of his followers as they are of his. The instructors' beliefs, fears, paranoia, ego and fantasies invoke only those behaviors already present in his students.

-Rodney "Chico" King

this is too true...

I agree.

Good stuff, Rodney.

As one of those who isnt interested in dying faster, please keep making tapes!

Great Article!

"To actually get on the mat and spar, against a resisting opponent, who is not telling you what he is going to do, with the real chance of it going anywhere between the stand-up, clinch or ground games and possibly getting hurt, I mean why would someone want to do that? This would mean you would have to face all your fantasies of what a fight would be like head on, including you paranoia, fears and not too mention your inflated ego. "

I love this paragraph. Marco H.

needs to be archived!

excellent post!

Excellent post!

Good stuff, Rodney. Thanks for sharing it.



wow, I saw the title of this thread and thought it was about "American Gladiators."

Damn, I loved that show.

Great post, though, Rodney.



Great post...

I think some of the same things that draws people to those types of schools is the same thing you see on here regularly when a fighter loses. Nogueira was unbeatable, superhuman...He showed that Jiu Jitsu, with wrestling takedowns and some boxing was the ultimate way to fight. Then he has 2 tough performances (1 win 1 loss) and suddenly he is treated like a tomato can. And the same things that cause many people on here believe that because they train they can beat the ass of anyone out on the street who doesn't.

People strive to have a logical/linear progression in fighting. They want to believe that if they train for 1 year they will be able to beat everyone who has trained for 6 month, they want to believe that if Nogueira loses to Fedor and Fedor were to lose to Cro Cop, that Nog would lose to Cro Cop.

Traditional school do a "great" job of facilitating this. They teach you 10 moves for you white belt, 20 for your yellow etc. and you can see a logical progression. It is gratifying, and gives the people confidence. They add structure to something, fighting, that is completely unstructured.

If you decide to step out of that structure and train with aliveness, then you have to be ready for the idea that a new guy off the street who outweighs you by 60 pounds may come in and give you fits on the mat (and would possibly do the same on the street, and that you could watch the pro-fighter that trains like you do get KO'd, then see the guy that Ko'd him getting beaten easily and in turn you have to realize that as much as you try to control the variablitity by training in a new way everytime a new champ shows that wrestling, bjj, high kicks etc. are the best that you, just like they, could get knocked.

Sometimes the variability of real fighting, the fact that you can work your ass off and be the most trained baddest dude in the world, then get ko'd by a sucker punch or lose a match in 20 seconds,can cause some people to feel it is futile. The fact that you have never "done it," there is no arrival point, just continuos striving can be too frustrating..Those people are drawn to burying their head in the sand and creating a false sense of security for themselves.

top for when I am back home

Also, factor in that not all people stay with TMA's because they are learning "self-defense" they stay with it because they like what they are doing and it meets some other need in their life.

That said everything else people want to believe that there is a short cut that will make them unbeatable and alot of instructors do cater to that, OR honestly believe it themselves.

There are, I am sure, myriad other factors involved. There could be what we could term false most martial artists dont fight, and dont get into fights, when they do they may use a move or two from their style. Perhaps it works, even working wonderfully. However, that is ONE instance.

I know people who have used wing tsun, karate,boxing,judo and kali silat techniques in real life encounters. However, using one or two techniques does NOT validate what could be hundreds of techniques in your arsenal. Some people are so physical they can make most techniques work by muscling their way thru it.

Then of course there is the "high percentage" idea-those techniques that have the MOST LIKELY chance of succeeding under the MOST variables (circumstances), often with the LEAST amount of training time. Questions of efficacy and efficiency of training are paramount, especially to those who want/need to train and have usefull methods of fighting within a year or less period of time.

Dunno, someone should take notes and write a freakin book on this, it could be a best seller!