Monday, September 21, 2015

Sport fighting versus Survival fighting

Due to the growing popularity of combat sports like the Ultimate Fighting Championship, there is a tendency to mistake these athletic competitions with survival fighting. It's a mistake that I encounter frequently. People mistake the artificial environment of the arena with violent encounters out in the real world.

The explanation for the difference between sport and survival usually has something to do with the rules. Sports have rules and survival is thought not to have rules, but this isn't entirely true. Self defense is a legal concept. It has to do with laws, statutes and evidence. One cannot use more force than is required to extract themselves from a dangerous situation. Therefore, if one is to survive after the violent encounter one must follow the rules of society.

The rules that specifically draw the line between sport and survival is that of targeting and striking surfaces. Almost all of the first response targeting areas in self defense are illegal under most sporting rules. The neck for example is off limits in the UFC. A solid blow to the side of the neck can knock a person out. A blow to the front can crush a person's windpipe. A blow to where the base of the skull meets the neck can kill. The eyes, groin, ears, kidneys, back, knees, joints and fingers are also illegal targets.

What can be used to strike is also limited. Open hand techniques are banned, as well as headbutts and dropping elbows. It is also illegal to kick a downed opponent.

These rules are good for the sporting arena. They encourage fighters to fight square on and pound on the strongest parts of the human body with some of the weakest. It prolongs the fights and ensures that participants won't end up permanently injured. It would be dangerous to assume that the same techniques used in the sporting arena would work in a violent confrontation.

In sport bringing someone to the ground and submitting them is a solid tactic. A single-leg takedown requires you to change levels and scoop up one of your opponent's legs. This requires you to present one of your most vulnerable targets to your opponent, the back of your neck. A dropping elbow could easily kill you.

Keep in mind that the rules of sport are not in place because they are not effective. They are in place to keep the participants safe. If you're fighting for your life, the last thing you want is for the other guy to be safe.