What ‘Works’


If you are at all serious about the study of personal defense and combatives, you’ve no doubt noticed that devoted practitioners generally select one of two camps when it comes to cherished notions of What ‘Works:’

The “Used in Battle” camp – which appeals to authority on the idea that the chosen art was used on a traditional battlefield (i.e. Japanese samurai, Chinese bodyguards and caravan guards, Asian tribal warfare, etc.) or by “commandos;” generally from WWII, or nowadays, Russians or Israeli “Special Forces;” Or that the discipline is “reality based” in that it was purpose-designed for “street fights.”

And the Combat Sport camp – their appeal to authority is that since combat sports can be trained at full speed, with full power, and only in this way can real pressure be brought to bear and the true efficacy of a particular skill be measured, and that this is how we know What Works. They tend to look to “high percentage” competition performance for “proof.”

Partisans in the former camp tend to spend a lot of time attacking the ideas of the latter by saying “that sport sh*t” isn’t combat effective because it has “rules,” and training it “will get you killed in the streets.”

Not surprisingly, those in the second camp tend to spend a lot of time criticizing the former as blind to the realities of pressure testing and the necessity of practicing against a true opposing will, and turn the phrase around by mockingly joking that their sport technique will “get them KILT in DA STREETZ.”

This is seriously the level at which many practitioners are operating…Combat Cliche.

My own response to reading or hearing a strong partisan of either camp is that old stand by:

They don’t know what they don’t know.


Personally, I’ve always reserved the right to reserve an opinion on What Works:

In terms of control, restraint, and arrest tactics taught by someone that has never controlled, restrained, or arrested anyone; Let alone a lot of people.

What Works in a street fight being taught by someone that has never been in a street fight;

What Works in a shooting, from someone that has never been in, around, or at a shooting. Let alone multiple shootings;

Use of force from someone that has never been an officer: has never had to de-escalate a situation, or escalate one. Or escalate then de-escalate one. Let alone a number of them under different circumstances. Like one of those people that was a cop for like three years,  then “left” for unspecified reasons, and yet devoted their life to things cops do ever since. Always seems odd to me, barring injury rendering one incapable of continuing to serve, why not just stay on the job?

Or the opinions of people who’ve had no involvement in use of force for the last decade or more – like a thirty year cop that spent the last two decades at a desk job, further and further away from the streets.

Oh excuse me.. “Da StreetZ.”

Like a big city Chief lecturing on how to “fix”policing talking about training and de-escalation….something he hasn’t done or used in thirty or forty years.

We humans tend to get better with age, at least in our own minds. I think back to some of the scenes I have been involved in and if I’m honest, I don’t think I was as good as I think I was…

While we are at it, has anyone noticed that while there is a general agreement that the vast majority of police officers and soldiers receive little or no hand-to-hand combatives training, and we can point to generally poor performance from the former and that close combat almost never happens for the latter, we still look to cops and soldiers (or “commandos”) as the litmus test for What Works in close personal defense? It’s more complicated than that, for sure, but that is kind of funny.

Holding such opinions does not endear one to partisans in either camp, or both if one won’t be categorized. Doesn’t work well in a rigidly hierarchal system, whether traditional or modern, when one questions “sensei.”

Or with cults of personality when one has a different opinion than The Personality.

I’ve opted out of more than one group for these very reasons. Chosen not to think what the Group Thinks, and simply looked for What Works, no matter from where it comes.










Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s