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Counter-examples

To be fair in my warrior discussion, I should give some better exposure to some of the great counter-examples that some of the commentators gave in our previous thread on the Ranger grappling video. First, I’d like to mention something that stuck out to me – the video contradicts itself pretty blatantly.

"Fort Benning…is a place where the study of martial arts is not geared toward spiritual development, sports, or self-defense.”

But then, the narrator says explicitly, “our task is to imbue them with the warrior ethos.” That is, by definition a spiritual pursuit. That does not make it a less noble or less functional goal, but these guys seem to want folks to think that the Army BJJ program is all about practical combat efficacy, when it is really about spirit, heart, and gut.
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But on the other hand, The BJJ stuff that the military had gotten into is not without its apparent functional utility, as demonstrated by this news article that Nathan pointed us to a while back. Here the soldier grappled from a position of extreme weakness against an armed opponent long enough and successfully enough to save his own life.
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Rick Fryer made another excellent point, that it takes heart and guts to stand toe-to-toe in a boxing ring (for instance) and trade rib-crushing body shots. This is true. There’s a different kind of feeling to it, but it’s still courage. Incidently, for years the army combatives program emphasized boxing/karate type skills, and apparently found it sufficient for combatives skills but found it insufficient (or at least less-so than BJJ) for instilling the desired ethos.
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Dan Paden brought up the fact that it may not be illusory (as I phrased it) to think that a clean, hands-down victory might be possible. This is a great video that Dan had recently posted of a one-shot clean knockout in a street fight.
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Chiron has posted a couple of great articles that, if they weren’t inspired by this discussion, fit perfectly into it. I wish he'd enable post links so that I could reference them directly, but of you go to his blog and find his September 18 and 19, 2007 posts - they're well worth your time. Some of the best material on the spiritual side of martial arts that I've ever read. While youre there, read the rest of his posts. Great material.
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And, while it's not exactly a counter-example, there's another great tangent on the subject that was posted at Aikithoughts.
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UPDATE: Steve has posted a very good opinion piece that touches on the subject at hand - but from a very practical, non-woo-woo way.

3 comments:

  1. One of the commentators on my website is a military contractor stationed in the Middle East. He reminds us that the Marines also taught Tae Bo. I draw the conclusion that our military's "seal of approval" on any particular empty-hand art shouldn't be taken too seriously.

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  2. What? You ain't disrespectin the Tae Bo are you?!?

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  3. Here, I have to agree with Chris. In the years I have been reading about it, and, to some degree, participating in it, I have seen methods and theories of hand-to-hand combat in the military change considerably, and I think that ultimately, it just doesn't matter much, because with the exception, perhaps, of sentry-removal techniques, the odds of martial arts techniques being employed on a more than occasional basis in modern warfare, even guerrilla warfare, by our military personnel is very slim. You just don't wind up in unarmed combat that often.

    That being the case, people can sell any old idea, like the book full of "military" martial arts techniques I saw recently that contained, as God as my witness, to the best of my recollection, almost nothing but groundfighting techniques. There seemed to be no recognition whatsoever of the fact that the odds are somewhat against our theoretical unarmed military man facing just one opponent. But the author of the book will probably never have to worry about how effective his techniques actually are on the battlefield, because they are likely to see very little actual action on the battlefield. The days when we had to worry about night-time infiltration into foxholes by Japanese soldiers seems to have passed--and even then, the Marines used K-Bars, for cryin' out loud.

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