Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Baseball Analogy

There are a lot of fighting arts; Muay Thai, Krav Magra, Escrima, Pencak Silat, Katate, Jiu Jjitsu, and so on. There are also a number of sports that have evolved out of fighting arts, MMA, boxing, wrestling, judo, and so on. People take up these arts and sports for a number of reasons. Fitness and self defense are often cited.

So you study an art for several years, you put your time and your money into it. You get in (better) shape. You think you've learned something. And then there's a confrontation of some sort and you lose. The sudden flurry of punches, an improvised weapon, and you're beaten and robbed. At this point, you may tell yourself , "Well, my <$MARTIAL ART> didn't work."

I have heard it. Yesterday, someone created a user profile just so they could troll my post and insult the art I study for being useless and ineffective. Now, they might be right about me, I might not be able to effectively defend myself from a young strong attacker with a weapon. However, I do not think that in and of itself says anything about my <$MARTIAL ART> or yours.

Here's why. Let's say we're playing major league baseball. We've all been practicing since T-ball, played at every level, worked our way up from the minors. The game is in progress. One of us comes up to bat. Another is pitching and all the fielding positions are ready. The pitcher throws. At this point there are a number of possible outcomes. Batter gets a hit, batter misses, batter gets thrown out, ball is fouled off, batter hits a fly ball that gets caught.

 If the batter misses do we see it from his perspective and say baseball failed? If the batter gets a hit, do we see it from the pitcher's perspective and say baseball failed? Or do we see that the outcomes are fluid and changing? That more training and better coaching effect the outcome of the game. If the batter improves his skills, he is more likely to get a hit. If the pitcher improves his, he is more likely to get the batter out. If the fielders are fast, attentive, and experienced, they will make less errors, catch more of the balls hit in their direction, and prevent hits. We all understand it is a nonsensical statement to look at a baseball event and blame baseball for the outcome.

So too in a fighting altercation. Being stronger, faster, more aerobically fit, having better skills, being mentally prepared all affect the outcome. It's not the particular art, it's the whole package that counts. And just like there's a batter out there that's going to crush your best pitch, there's people out there that could take you effortlessly no matter how or what you train. What you are doing is shifting your location on the scale. Because you are not training to go up against the best fighter in the MMA.

You're training to face a threat on the street to you or a loved one. Perhaps your training is just enough to give you the skill to escape, survive, or avoid the fight completely. Or it's enough to help you to slip that first attack and gain enough space to draw your firearm. Training shifts the odds. That's all. Maybe, in that one desperate moment, they shift them enough.


Just People said...

It is silly to assume one "style" is superior to another. As you have pointed out, there are a number of variables that can determine the outcome.

At any given day and time, anything can happen. I have watched a Shodan beat a very accomplished Sandan. He may not do it again. But, he did at that moment.

Awareness is probably the biggest self defense tool you can have. And then, good, fast legs!!

Anonymous said...

In case you're interested, here's an analogy from roughly 300 years ago, using cards rather than baseball to illustrate a similar idea.

waepnedmann said...

My first lesson in self-defense was:
Don't be there. In so many ways.

My favorite self-defense joke to re-enforce the first of the many ways is:
A man goes to the doctor and says, "I broke my arm in three places.
The doctor says, "Stay out of those places."

Anonymous said...

I'm old and disabled, fat and slow.
When I was young and disabled (less fat and slow)I was attacked by a crazy person with a kitchen knife.
Thankfully, I'd read a couple books which gave me enough of an edge I survived without injury!!
I always wish I knew more, and never criticize anyone for trying to do so!


Will Brown said...

There are superior practitioners within a given discipline.

A particular discipline may well be superior at defeating a given threat.

Neither of these circumstances equals "... my <$MARTIAL ART> didn't work." You may have failed, or simply gotten beaten, but that can't honestly be held as a legitimate criticism of the discipline you train in. Study harder, do it better; best of all, get so good at it that you never have to do it at all.

Finally, why aren't you "training to go up against the best fighter in the MMA"? Who wants to do all that work to become second best?


Old NFO said...

Survival, THAT is the goal of any martial art when you boil it down...

Brad Richards said...

You're right, of course. Like you, I started a martial art late in life. I stopped at 2. Kyu due to an injury (my own stupid fault). However, as you say, it's a good way to stay in shape and it's fun.

About being attacked: You aren't supposed to seek confrontation, but if you're cornered and have no choice, a martial art improves your odds. It doesn't guarantee a win. Especially given that you are likely up against a thug (or a group) who is younger, stronger and faster - and accustomed to dirty fighting.

You know, your chances of dying by drowning are pretty minimal when you're in a boat. But when things go pear shaped, your odds are improved by having a life jacket around. Doesn't guarantee that you won't drown, but it does give you a better chance.

Brad Richards said...

Actually, "knowing how to swim" would have been a better analogy...

.45ACP+P said...

When I was young and very fit, I could PROBABLY defend against most physical threats and not need to do permanent damage to the attacker. A second Black belt in middle age and I could use a stick to cause great bodily harm if needed and still had the skills to defend myself from most troubles. Knee repair and blown shoulder convinced me to carry a .45. Trouble brings its own rewards. It is not that I have grown careless, I truly care less. View me as a victim at your peril. Anyone can be taken, some of us wish to remain more of a challenge.

Opinionated Grump (Rich in NC) said...

John Steinbeck once said:
Don’t pick a fight with an old man.
If he is too old to fight, he’ll just kill you.

Rich in NC

Dave H said...

There's only one technique that can -guarantee- you'll never be overcome by an opponent:
1) Dig a hole,
2) lie down in it, and
3) shoot yourself in the head.

Anything else is just stacking the deck in your favor. There are no guarantees.

Richard Blaine said...

I can beat any CQB fighting art from 300 yards, at 3 feet my Fu is weak, but I'll do my best to make it costly.

I just don't have the cardio to do unarmed combat anymore, although I keep thinking about finding a Tai Chi class. I did Aikido for a year - we were practicing throws, it was my turn to take the fall. As my feet left the mat my brain turned on - big mistake - it said be sure your arm is bent for the roll - so I did - 90 degrees. Landed on my elbow, then my shoulder - I know have matching bone spurs on both shoulders, one from skiing one from Aikido.- both my fault. Had to give up almost everything that seriously works my shoulders (lots of motion) or the tendon get inflamed and that sucks.

Fortunately I can still shoot :) Like Grump says - Don't pick a fight with an old man :) I think Heinlein said the same thing about small men.