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ENTERTAINMENT MARTIAL-ARTS Dojo Training Vs. Real Fighting For Self-Defense - A Martial Arts Lesson From Abraham Lincoln

Dojo Training Vs. Real Fighting For Self-Defense - A Martial Arts Lesson From Abraham Lincoln

By: Jeffrey M. Miller | Mar 14 2010 | 921 words | 2675 hits

There seems to be two schools of thought when it comes to martial arts training. The first, we'll call them the "safety-first" schools, adheres to the philosophy of no-contact or light contact and never doing anything that might cause injury to a student.

This school usually focuses on solo training with little to no actual contact between students without the use of padded, safety gear.

The second school, we'll call them the "tough-guy" schools, believes that you have to do everything for real if you're going to be any good.

This school tends to avoid solo training and kata "forms" for a more no-holds-barred, freestyle approach to combat training.

Each sees the other as wrong. Unfortunately, just as with all extremists, each misses the possibility of a third, or middle approach to training.

The Warrior Concepts Black Belt Mastery programs are designed to take this middle path, aiming for a safe approach to the training while focusing on the important key elements that will be present and crucial to surviving a brutal attack. If you've read my other articles and blog posts, or if you've attended my live classes and training events, you already know what I'm talking about.

In this article, I want to focus on one of these views - the "tough-guy syndrome" - and talk about the misconceptions present that, contrary to their intent, lead these students astray from their ultimate goal.

Now, before I begin, let me say that there are those people out there who are just plain tough. They can take as much as they dish out and have an almost superhuman ability to withstand pain and punishment. But...

...these people will be so with or without fight training.

As I've discussed in other articles, there is a vast difference between a warrior and someone who fights for pleasure or reward. Where the warrior seeks to be able to defend self and others only when necessary - and with the least amount of wear and tear on him or her self - the fighter will very often put themselves in more danger just to show that they are the toughest guy there.

Here are several truths about the nature of training and combat that I have discovered from over thirty years of not only martial arts training, but from actually having to survive in real-world self-defense situations.


  • 1. Dojo training (practice) is NEVER the same as the real thing. No matter how much you try to make it so. Unless you're actually cracking ribs, breaking legs, gouging eyes, and dislocating joints during training, you're still "pulling" and therefor NOT in combat mode.
  • 2. Related to number one above... You don't do to your friends what you do to an enemy who's trying to maim or kill you. Again, slow training which takes into account things like adrenal response, attacker-logic and good combat strategy is better than acting strong and going fast so you can feel tough.


Science has already proven that, in suvival mode when under the influence of adrenaline, epinephrine, and several other chemicals dumped into the blood stream by the hypothalemus and triggered by the amigdala, you will already go as fast, and be as strong, as you can be. In other words, you don't have to train fast to BE fast in a combat situation.

In fact, it's far more important to practice drills and exercises that develop your ability to think quickly and calmly under pressure than to worry about how fast you're going. This is an important lesson for the tough guys who think they're training for real.

And finally...


  • 3. Just because you make the training "feel" real - doesn't make it so.


Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States of America, used to ask people what appeared to be a simple question that illustrates this point perfectly. He used to ask a person...

"How many legs does a dog have?" (Feel free to answer the question for yourself)

Of course, the answered would invariably be, "four."

"Correct," he would reply. Then he would go on to say, "let's pretend that the dog's tail is actually a leg, now how many legs does the dog have?"

How about it? Simple question. Simple answer, right?

Well. If your initial thought was to answer with, "five"... I'm sorry to say...

...you'd be wrong!

Just because we "pretend" - just because we play a little mental game - and "say" that the dog's tail is a leg, doesn't make it one. The dog still only has four legs.

And, just because you make your martial arts training "feel" real, doesn't make it so.

Don't believe me?

That's okay. You can believe whatever you want. But...

...before you begin spouting that I don't know what I'm talking about, do yourself a huge favor and ask anyone else with the same real-world combat experience that I do, how similar actual combat is to their training drills.

If they weren't confidential, I'd be happy to direct you to all of the military and law enforcement guys on my list who routinely find themselves in the "line of fire." Then they could tell you the same things they share with me when they comment on these articles. They could tell you I'm right.

But, this isn't about me being right. This is about you figuring out what you need to get proficient with this area of your life as quickly as possible.

Like I said before, you are always free to choose what you think and do. That's the great thing about having free will.

Just don't confuse free will and what you've chosen to do, with what's going on and what will work in the real world.

About author:
Do you want to be able to defend and survive a real street self defense attack? Do you want to know how to have just the right technique for the attack that's happening, and be able to defend yourself successfully against a violent attacker who's throwing anything he wants? Well, you can. How? By learning what it's like inside of a real attack, and developing the skills necessary to handle a variety of self defense situations. If you want to learn more than just the step-by-step punches, kicks, and techniques that most students limit themselves to, then you should read my newest self-defense book, "Fight Smarter - Not Harder!" You can download it free at: http://www.warrior-concepts-online.com/street-fighting-self-defense-book.html Jeffrey M. Miller is an internationally recognized self protection expert and the creator of the unique, EDR: Non-Martial Arts Defensive Training Program. Each month, he shares his 30+ years of real-world study, training, and experience to help literally thousands of students from all over the world, to be more safe and secure in Today's often dangerous world. Jeff says, "If you really want to be able to protect yourself, then I can teach you the critical skills you'll need to defend and survive an attack against any attacker - guaranteed!
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