Assumption Might Be The Death Of You

I’m not being figurative here.

We all know the old saying, when you “Assume” you make an a$$ out of you and me.

But I’m afraid this is a best case scenario at times…

See, when you start getting into “The Arts” as I have (oh, I’m not talking about paintings and pottery, I’m talking about the “Martial Arts”), you start to notice things… like “Assumptions” that people make while training or even developing a system.

A lot of times if you only work with one or two people this is fine, that is if your goal is to only ever have to defend yourself against that particular human being.

But when you get out into the real world and flexing those “gym muscles” doesn’t do the trick anymore, you’re going to be faced with some hard realities.

A real fight is disorganized, chaotic, has no rules, and no time limit, oh yeah… no referee to stop the action. You shouldn’t try to “predict” anything, and you should assume nothing. We are constantly coming up with new scenarios for “things” and always seem to find new ways someone might attack you in a real fight.

You never actually know what someone else is going to do

Training a technique and assuming that person is going to react a certain way could literally be a death sentence.

I’ve been brushing up lately on my escrima training, and what I’ve noticed with some of the good ol tried & true taining systems is they’ve gotten used to people basically doing what they’re coached to and have taken all of their natural reactions away so they can “attack the right way”.

Honestly, when are you going to get the opportunity to say “Mr. Attacker, could you please punch/grab/grope me this way, oh no, you were supposed to bend forward when I hit you in the stomach…” and so on with such nonsensical thinking.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place to train specifics but it has to be part of a larger picture. I think of it like this…

We teach (basically) 4 major joint locks at my school(yes, there’s variations…), and off of those 4 locks, there are hundreds of possible techniques that we learn, and those are just the ones that we train… I’m not saying there isn’t more, because I can guarantee there is.

So, when we train and someone says “you’re attacking me wrong” that’s simply not true, there is no “wrong way” to attack someone.

You can see where assuming can get dangerous.

If you’re more focused on the fact that the pre-packaged “one size fits all” defense you had set up for that particular attack, you won’t be able to defend yourself when “something” is off (their hand is turned the wrong way or their feet are backwards or they punched you in the wrong spot, you know “that” type of thinking). YOU WILL FREEZE and whatever “thing” you had planned simply won’t happen.

It’s easy to get caught in traditions and the “this is how we’ve always done it” type of thinking that seems to be in most martial arts schools where their instructor is a master of only their ‘dojo’ but nothing else.

This is why I train outside my comfort zone on a regular basis, get my ass handed to me by some people and learn a thing or three(if I’m lucky). Because I know I won’t be able to learn/teach everything, and I pick up more from my beginner students(especially the kids who have absolutely zero inhibitions) because they haven’t been caught in the stigma of “do it my way” type of training.

Let me finish with this, there isn’t a whole lot of bad techniques out there, if executed properly you can make almost anything work, depending on body type of you and the other person. If your defense is kicking them in the groin, well, you probably didn’t need those 6 years of Brazilian JiuJitsu training and the purple belt that came with it, stay off the floor and run the hell away!

A few things to bear in mind…

1. If it wouldn’t work on someone a) Bigger, b) Stronger, c) Faster, d) Meaner, e) Smellier than you, don’t use it. If you’re not sure, have a 6 year old try it on you, if they can’t pull it off, don’t use it.
2. Never Assume The Person’s Reaction to a situation. I’ve seen people do all kind of crazy things, almost none of them react the same, have a backup plan. To quote Bobby Maximus – “If Plan A doesn’t work, there are 25 more letters in the alphabet”. Use them!
3. Train to hit. Too many people don’t want to risk hittin their partner, but both people are working on the drill, you’re training to hit them, they’re training to defend a legitimate threat… not a punch that misses them by 6”.
4. Anything you do with partners should be thought of an “If Then” type of training. If they grab _____ then I do _______ and try to find different ways to fill in the blanks.

I could probably go on, but you wouldn’t read more of my rants, in fact, my students get sick of hearing this stuff I’m sure, but I’m kinda preachy about things that are, well, important.

If you want some more “good advice” outside of my meager little writings, I suggest you find an instructor, like myself, who adopts these and other sensible training philosophies. Also, if one is not available in your area, I’d look to guys like Rory Miller, Iian Abernathy, and Tony Blauer for some half-sane advice…

And don’t forget to use your common sense! If something seems fishy, it probably is… (because I told you to is not a good reason for performing a technique, just sayin)

Have a Strong Day!

~Justin

Leave a Reply