Lessons Learned

Do You Really Want to Close Against This Guy?

Do You Really Want to Close Against This Guy?

In my last post I talked about how I view the real-life combat videos not as a form of entertainment, but as a necessary means of learning what real combat is like.

GM Latosa rightly pointed out that anyone who gets enjoyment from watching others suffer really is lacking as a human being. I remember when I taught at a hellish school in Fresno how the students were always unhappy. Students hated school, hated reading, hating teachers, hated writing, hated other students, and hated other ethnic groups (yet were quick to complain about racism, whether real or imagined). Soon I learned that when I saw students gleefully running on campus, beaming with sheer joy, it was because they were racing to see a fight, and the spectacle of seeing one student hurt another (and the more injury the better) was the only time on campus that they were ever really happy. It sickened and depressed me.

From the video the other day I learned a lesson. I am beginning to see a pattern emerge. When people fight against sticks, they tend to close. If you are getting hit with a stick, your instinct is to get in close where the stick cannot hit effectively, and where you can either tackle or choke your opponent, or wrestle the stick from him.

As a practitioner of the big stick, I expect the opponent to close. I am waiting for it.

But when people fight blades, they keep distance. This was evident in the machete video. Several men got relatively close to the machete wielder, but were very careful to stay just out of range. One guy could be seen wielding a box to help form a barrier between him and the man with the machete. No sane man is going to rush someone with a knife or a machete.

While you may not be able to hit like a stick with a machete in close, the simple act of sliding the blade along an opponent who’s hugging you can cause gruesome damage. There isn’t the safe inner zone against an edged weapon like there is against a stick. (My goal with the big stick is to work to eliminate an inside “safe” zone for an opponent.)

When I was was in Fresno I saw some guys demonstrate a style called “tinulisan.” A “tulisan” in Filipino is a robber, and as they explained the style, the concept is that you are like a thief. You don’t want to stay and wrestle. The cops are coming and you don’t want to get into a long, drawn out fight. You don’t want to get cut, or injured, which not only is a hassle, but makes you easy to be identified. As a thief, it is business –you’re going to get in a couple of quick shots, preferably at long distance, and then run. This seems like a sensible style when faced with a knife or bolo-wielding opponent.

I think this is the great fallacy being taught. Although I disagree with close-range combat as a preferred fighting method, it may make sense against an opponent with a stick. However, against a knife or sword, I believe that a close-range strategy is insanity. I also think that human nature, a preservation instinct, will keep a person from closing in on an opponent with a blade.

I have previously written about how I think the espada y daga techniques commonly taught, with the eskrimador getting in close and trying to tie up the opponent’s arms, are not just impractical, but are downright dangerous.

I think it’s time that we look at the body of evidence with regard to how people act in real combat, and adjust our training accordingly. Especially against a blade, I believe the long range strategy makes the most sense.

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