Sometimes I have read or been taught that this or that system tries to use “natural” movements, modifying them minimally, so that in a real stressful encounter, one can use these skills rather than trying to recall extremely technical skills. Following the KISS (keep it simple stupid) principle is advocated in various combatives manuals. People note that even trained fighters will start throwing wild swings under stress.

Well so lately, I’ve been watching my and other kids do pretend or even semi-real fighting and wrestling and sure enough, what seems natural is hitting with the hands (palms), very low kicks, pushes, basic throws with pretty darn good whole body movement, and even covering (ok I see that more in kids’ basketball when the kids are afraid of the ball – they do a really nice cover). In very little kids, biting is very common. So apparently those techniques are all natural instinct methods of fighting or self-defense. At least I’ve seen enough firsthand empirical evidence to prove these ideas to myself now.

The next logical point people make is that, at least for self-defense purposes, for use only in emergencies (kind of like CPR or lifeguard skills – you don’t really ever want to use these skills but everyone should have some), is that a system that builds somewhat on these natural tendencies is going to be best when the fight-or-flight response is triggered. Without having had to deal with these emergency scenarios (and hopefully never having to), I am pretty convinced of that, too, but one thing I don’t think is natural but still necessary to get fairly technical at for these purposes is good groundfighting.

It seems more technical than anything else, but in a necessary way. Not in a way where under stress, you lose your technical skill and revert to natural skill. Sure, wrestling is natural, fights tend to go to the ground, maybe wrestling for better position is pretty natural, but passing the guard, using the guard, sweeps, submissions, defenses to all these technical things – all that stuff doesn’t seem at all natural. All of that seems like it has to be learned. So even though it’s not my main interest, I come back to the view that the standard bjj view is right. Nevermind that you may not want to go to the ground. We already know the argument that if you don’t want that, knowing groundfighting is what you need to have some control over that. Personally I’m more interested in throws, off-balances, and stand-up grappling, but darn it all, now I can’t escape my own logic from my own empirical observation. All of the “natural” tendencies of course favor natural size, strength, or speed. The bjj answer to this problem makes more sense to me, personally, now, after going through this personal observation and thought exercise. These arguments have been stated a gazillion times and is the reason bjj took off after the early ufc’s, but this position has now sunken into my brain. I wasn’t really denying their validity before, just not really thinking about them too much. I just didn’t care that much about it, I suppose.

Not to mention the recent Mir vs. giant Lesnar, Nog vs. better reach Sylvia, even Fedor vs. mega-gigantic Choi results, all won through bjj or judo/sambo submission to overcome size and/or strength. That is all pretty obvious to a lot if not most people in ma, yet some people are still in denial about it. I think I am just choosing to ignore it (I’m not turning into a bjj zealot now just because the logic part of my brain says their arguments make the most sense; I still personally find judo and sambo more interesting overall, and internal arts for even broader, deeper reasons), because I’m realizing more and more that I now don’t care so much about what is “best” etc etc blah blah blah. Those arguments are really useless for most ordinary people’s purposes. I’m realizing in middle age I just care more about fun. That is probably why I’d willingly switch from ma to those ring things if I could. To have some fitness, some health, some reasonable emergency (like CPR) skills for a civilian, and most of all fun are my main criteria. Lately ma is falling down the list on 3 of those criteria, behind other fun stuff. Too much to do, too little time.