Letters: Streetfighting fist vs open hand, experience, and MMA

On streetfighting: fist vs open hand, about experience, and MMA

29 July 2005

A slightly technical issue I have is fists vs open hand on the street. If you are fighting in mma or other competition you wear gloves and wraps. How do you punch in order to avoid breaking your hand? (Darius Rana)

I’ve used open hands occasionally, for example, if somebody’s hugging me I might slap him in the kidneys, but my preference is for the bony parts of the body: fists, knees, elbows, shins, forehead. Softer tissue might sting him, burn him, but that’s just pain and he can probably deal with that. That’s my personal preference; but then again, sumo wrestlers do a pretty good job with open hands if you want to go that route. And they’d be the ones I’d copy if I wanted to work that way.

Always punch with a short, hacking, clawing action. Use short, chipping shots that will rip him apart, as opposed to the big, pistonlike punches you usually see guys making. Those shots facilitate a cyclonic action, so that you can repeatedly strike rapidly. They also allow you to keep the door closed, and prevent any entries he may make. Big shots tend to open the door and let him in.

And on the street, if you miss and hit the wall, or hit the ground, with a big shot you’ve definitely got a broken hand. That’s one of the problems with punching bags. They can encourage you to actually go for displacement–to make the bag swing, move, big dents in it. All your work on the bag should be done in the same ripping, tearing action that you would use on a man. If you hit him on the head, for example, the knockout comes primarily because of the violent rotation of the head and its subseqent disruptive effect the reticular activating system, a part of the brain on which consciousness depends. Percussion shots have an effect on the dendrite/axon connections and can cause disruption, but these shots which actually twist his head are far more effective, and can be performed more repetitively and are safer for your hands.

You wrote in your latest update that a person doesn’t have to get into many fights to learn how to fight. I find it refreshing that you do not go around boasting you had 500, 600 fights and were honest that alot of the people you ko’d as a doorman were not skillfull fighters so there was nothing to brag about. What do you think of this new trend of ‘hardmen’ with crew cuts, muscles and claims of 2000 fights? I find it boring and am pretty sure that most of the people they beat up were drunk university students.

The point on getting into fights is the quality of the fights. Taking out a drunk on a Saturday night isn’t what I’d call experience. As a teenager, when I was a boy soldier, I would go out hunting grown men for a challenge.

There has to be some proof of your balls to fight. That can happen by way of the street or by way of competition. And that usually is defined by personality types: the street-fighter is what I personally would characterize more as the predatory, natural-born killer type. Whereas the MMA, although some of these natural-born killers are fighting within it, tends to be a little bit dampened on personality type. The guys who fight in MMA are competitive, but fair-minded and able to deal with rules and regs. The other lot, they’re ruthless. And as the street-fighter type myself, I find it very hard to deal with rules and regulations of any kind.

What you’re probably referring to me saying is that within training, there’s no point in just fighting. Because you’ll only ever be as good as the guy you’re fighting, and two, if the fighting is all-out, somebody’s going to seriously get hurt and you’ll run out of training partners. And you won’t be able to address the fight scenarios specifically. That’s why you have to break the fight down into fight scenarios, drill to make yourself familiar with them, and then make those scenarios competitive, but with certain conditions to them. And do them at extremely high intensities. There’s lots more about this elsewhere on the site. Sparring and playfighting are ways of experimentation, but they’re not actually fighting. And you have to find a way of experiencing the intensity of a real exchange, and set conditions which focus you on that particular scenario, and then by linking these scenarios together, you’ve covered all aspects of a fight.

And that’s why, when safety does become an issue within these high-intensity intervals, such as ground & pound for example, you use equipment. You do to the bag what you can’t do to him.

Who do you think is the most complete mma fighter? Also who are your favourites? Mine are Bas Rutten and Vanderlai Silva. There is nothing more boring than watching a grappler hugging some guy inside of his guard.

Both of those guys are in my top ten, and naturally I’m drawn to those who are basically strikers with wrestling and submission skills. But the real truth is, when I watch a fight it isn’t for entertainment value. I’m analyzing and evaluating what I’m seeing so that I can add that information to my pool of knowledge. I really don’t have a favourite fighter.

There might be a misconception, in that although I see MMA as potentially the greatest combative sport, like reality-based training, I see MMA competition as a vehicle for preparing for a real fight. It’s a way of becoming familiar with the possible fight scenarios of a life and death confrontation, but it isn’t in itself such a confrontation. I don’t see MMA as an end in itself. As a martial artist, I’m always looking to deal with real thing, a life and death confrontation; I’m not a sportsman.