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Self Defense/How important is it to learn how to execute techniques with different arms?


A primary criticism towards MMA and the sports fighting from both the RBSD and traditional martial arts (the genuine stuff FROM Asia, not the dumbed down Western crap).

I'm currently reading Dune and in his duel with Jamis, Paul faced for the first time something totally unexpected-an opponent who can use a knife efficiently with either arm and can even quickly transition his knife from arm to arm.  As a result Paul had quite a difficult time and its only because of advice from the other Fremen and Jessica preduel and his observation of Jamis's techniques that he was able to adapt and overcome this exotic style.

I'm still finishing up Dune, but I already read on wikis devoted to Dune and other fansites about the expanded universe (prequels, later books,etc) that Paul learned more and more about the Fremen ways as he simultaneously was teaching them how to fight like an Atreides army and at least one fansite mentioned in a later duel after the first book, taking place in the original Chronicles by Frank Herbert, Paul had learned Jamis's technique about using both hands and transitioning (which is the MO of the Fremen knife style) and used it against a new tough opponent who was stalemating. It was so unexpected that the new opponent got hit by angles he couldn't defend against.

The primary criticism in this regard towards MMA and sports competition is that they assume that you will always be in an upright stance that assumes you will hit from your dominant hand with such power (as seen in boxing) or speed and precision (as seen in westernized Eskrima and various knife systems). The TMA and RBSD argument is that you will often find yourself in situations where not only are you unable to execute the stance to give your dominant hand the necessary leverage to give out devastating force and technique, but in some situations you might not even be able to pull out your dominant in time (it may even be disabled) and thus you'll have to fight with a weaker arm.

I seen some RBSDs teach the "transition" technique Jamis used in his knife fighting (before I even got my copy of Dune this year). I seen some traditional martial arts styles have you practise striking and blocking/parrying from a "southpaw stance". I seen in Krav Maga learning how to fend off attackers while having one of your arms in a casket or handcuff or some other tool that disables it. I can go on and on.

I am curious in your opinion how much emphasis would you put on assuming southpaw and learning how to attack in a bizarre scenario that disables an arm-say being attacked when you're in a narrow walk way where too small to swing your left hand (which I saw in a Krav Maga documentary explaining about how so many different areas outside the ring totally changes your Rules of Engagement).

Is this practical? Or is it "teaching a thousand imaginary solution to a thousand imaginary problems"? Is it even fair to criticize boxing and such sports for only focusing one stance and striking that primarily focuses on one arm (esp dominant)?

On this hand we have the need for mental flexibility, commitment and adaptability. On this hand we have the hamster wheel of endless what-if's.  Choose wisely. </ sage kung fu master voice>

One of the problems you can run into is trying to come up with fantasy solutions to fantasy problems by over thinking things. Another problem is you can be blindsided by conditions you didn't consider. Still a third problem is you try to find one technique that does everything (I call these Dr. Bonner Miracle Cures). A fourth problem is that traditional moves -- that originally could handle a wide variety of things have been watered down, aspects lost and twisted for sports application. Now they no longer cover as many things as they once did. A fifth problem that you just didn't do it right in the heat of the moment.

All of them can result in you spitting blood. The question is, which one was it that caused it?

(As an aside, 10,000 techniques for 10,000 unique problems creates it's own kind of freeze. One where you have so many choices you don't know what to do you you either stand there and do nothing or you flail as you try to do three techniques at once.  That's how fantasy solutions can get you hurt.)

One of the best lines I ever heard was "Your thinking is done in training."  Now, if it weren't for the whole math thing, I would have been a scientist. I have a serious analytical, experimental and tinkering mind. So the thinking in training quote was a free pass to figure out, assess and experiment.  Train for this! Train for that! Bullshit. Figure out why this works for that and why that doesn't work for this. Can this be modified to cover that? What has been lost from that that used to cover this? Come to think of it, what has been lost from that that made it work (as in what they're doing doesn't - at all).

Let me give you an example. I used to HATE karate blocks. How did I develop this dislike? Well getting my ass beat trying to do them in fights had a lot to do with it. It would take me many decades to figure out that the reason they were failing wasn't because of the technique itself, it's how they were taught - and what happened afterwards. See to teach the technique, the moves had been broken apart. Then the parts were taught. Thing is, the techniques were never put back together. Or if they were, they were assembled with parts missing. These parts or non-operational versions were then taught as the whole thing. Mix this in with group movement and to keep the timing you get everyone pausing at the end of the move so you can 'take a picture.' That mental image of standing there at the end of the move morphed into what people think is the block. I guarantee you that shit isn't going to help you against a boxer.

What has been lost? Well start with the end of the movement isn't the block. The block is moving into that position. The key word there is moving. Oh yeah, that wind up movement that your oh-so sage and wise sensei dropped because it was wasted movement? Well, if it hadn't been turned into a closed fist 20 years before he was born, he -- and his instructors -- might have figured out it wasn't a wind up. It was a parrying action designed to handle faster incoming blows -- like oh say from a boxer. But because he thought it was a useless wind up that just slowed things down, he dropped it. And now for something really bad, because when you have 50 people in a room doing kata all at once, for safety, don't have them move that much. So the evasive footwork that goes with that 'block' is lost and now you're left standing there against an incoming attack and trying to use only the slowest part of the technique to defend yourself.

But here is where it gets really pear shaped. Remember that end, take a picture pose?  Yeah well by taking away the parrying aspects of the whole move, they shortened that last part to get it there faster. What used to be a wide sweeping action (that covered your whole body) got shortened down to a reduced angle to get it up there faster. A shortened angle that leaves you exposed on the other side. It's not the angle of the attack that's the problem, it's that the defensive move has been shortened that it no longer covers all the angles. So anything that isn't coming in on some specific angles is going to get through.

This information should have totally reframed your question. Because with shortened down and parts missing techniques left lead and right lead, right handed or left handed angles really do matter.  In systems that still have those aspects, well not so much.  Still not traditional, but classic systems still train you to function from both sides of your body. Why because you'll find yourself in either lead, multiple times. (Or you won't know what lead you'll be in when things start).

Before you go looking for new and different, start examining what you already know for ways that you can fix it (Or reboot it to a previous, unmodified operating system.)  That's going to solve a lot of problems of left/right right there.

The analyzing and fixing process alone is going to get you thinking along the lines of understanding how things work, that's going to boost your ability to quickly improvise on the spot. As in "I've never seen that particular attack before, but this move covers those angles."  

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Marc MacYoung


Street self-defense, crime avoidance and personal safety


I grew up in the streets of Los Angeles in 'situational poverty.' I have dealt with criminals and violent people all my life -- both personally and professionally. I have written 15 books and 6 videos on surviving street violence. I was originally published under the name Marc Animal MacYoung. (Animal was my street name). I've taught police and military both internationally and within the US. I've lectured at universities, academies and done countless TV, radio, newspaper and magazine interviews. I'm a professional speaker on crime avoidance and personal safety. And I am an expert witness recognized by the US court system. My bio is at My abridged CV (Curriculum Vitae) is at

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