Martial Arts • Fighting Science • 20 • Yin ☯ Yang of Rhythm vs. Random

A challenging aspect of combat training is explaining to a student that repetition is needed to learn, but that same aspect needs to be eliminated in a fight. It seems to be counter-intuitive to teach the importance of repetition to the point that it is eliminated.

Students need to learn a technique until it becomes ingrained in muscle memory. I write about this in the 100-1000-10000 rule. The goal of learning a new technique is to make that move integral to the student’s repertoire (see Martial Arts • Fighting Science • 3 • Yin ☯ Yang of Fighting Styles). Reaching this goal requires dedication, patience, and time. Many students will barely reach 100 repetitions in a single lesson, let alone 10000 needed to reach one’s subconscious.

Fighting requires random and unpredictable behavior. The more unpredictable a fighter, the harder it is to anticipate their attacks. That aside, repetition can be used as a fighting tactic – punch in the same spot over and over lulls an opponent into a false sense of predictive behavior. Once this goal is achieved then the next attack can be completely different.

Any predictive behavior
is a weakness waiting to be exploited.

Beginners adopt repetition to no fault of their own. They are taught to repeat moves until they understand its mechanics – then continue repeating them until it becomes apart of their being. Predictive behavior needs to be recognized and avoided. For example, students have a tenancy to alternate when they spar: first, one attacks and the other defends – then they switch. Recognizing repetition and embrace randomness requires experience. Sparring with different opponents with different skill-sets helps to open a fighter’s eyes to different styles and timing methodologies. A beginner facing a new style may result in panic or uncertainty. This reaction negatively manifests into body-freezing, not knowing how to defend against the unknown. This is why exposing a fighter to different spokes in the Expertise Wheel helps them to learn effective counter-strategies. Examples of unknown territory may include:

  • A Fighter’s Physiology • Tall, short, heavy or strong fighters
  • Mysterious Martial Styles • Unseen techniques, timing, or bizarre behavior
  • Street Fighting • No rules means that attacks can come from unexpected angles or even weapons.

Each scenario requires different tactics to mitigate an opponent’s strengths and capitalize on their weaknesses. Here are some examples:

  • Tall and lanky fighters • A fighter needs to close the distance to mitigate the opponent’s reach advantage. If the fighter has experience with wrestling or jiu-jitsu then taking them to the ground will mitigate the opponent’s height advantage.
  • Short and stocky fighters • Tactics here may involve keeping the fight standing, based on the assumption that their strength in grappling. This means mitigating this threat by learning how to counter takedowns.
  • Muay Thai • Fighters should avoid “phone booth” fighting against these opponents since Muay Thai fighters are especially versed in the clinch. They are also experts at leg kicks. Ground fighting will also eliminate all Muay Thai strengths.
  • Karate-ka • Fighting these opponents in the phone booth is ideal since they are unfamiliar with close range fighting. This martial art focuses on block and counter techniques so using multiple combinations, executed by a boxing style is a good tactic since it results in quick ascension to the opponent’s Chaos Zone.
  • Wrestlers • It is important to keep the fight standing with these opponents. The main hope on the ground is superior wrestling or Brasilian Jiu-Jitsu.
  • Boxers • These fighters are especially versed in combinations and dancing around their opponents. It is important to use kicks to keep them out of “phone booth” range. If this happens, then a Muay Thai clinch will mitigate a boxer’s strengths since they are unfamiliar with tactics that involve grabbing and grappling. Boxers are used to being separated from a clinch, but Muay Thai fighters will continue fighting. In many cases, taking a boxer to the ground is the best option.

About the Author

Gabriel Dusil has been a practitioner of Martial Arts for over twenty years. Originally he trained in the traditional style of Shotokan Karate. Gabriel has also trained under Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom and currently trains with Karel Ferus in Prague at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz. More recently he focuses on circuit training, strength & conditioning, and kickboxing.

Martial Arts • Fighting Science Series

If you would like to read more articles in this “Yin Yang of Fighting Science” series, check out these posts:

• 1 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Power
• 2 • Yin Yang of Speed vs. Timing
• 3 • Yin Yang of Fighting Styles
• 4 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Instinct
• 5 • Yin Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups
• 6 • Yin Yang of Slow vs. Fast
• 7 • Yin Yang of Perception vs. Reality
• 8 • Yin Yang of Fear vs. Confidence
• 9 • Yin Yang of Threes
• 10 • Yin Yang of Burden vs. Privilege
• 11 • Yin Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise
• 12 • Yin Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance
• 13 • Yin Yang of Attacking vs. Defending
• 14 • Yin Yang of Fighting 360°

Martial Arts • Fighting Science • 19 • Yin ☯ Yang of Sports vs. Violence

Motivation to train varies by student. Some need to vent their aggression. Some want to exercise. Others are attracted to the competition. A police officer trains to protect themselves from the violence exposed by their profession. A street fighter may be driven by emotional issues or adrenaline. When I meet a new student I try to understand their underlying motivation. Are they training to get into shape? Do they want to better defend themselves or fair well in a bar-room brawl? Sometimes it’s not a clear-cut division.

Fighting is fundamentally a combination of violence, sport, and art:

  • A competitive fighter will focus on the sports-aspect, wanting to learn skills so they can win in a competition.
  • A violent fighter’s goal is to hurt their opponent.
  • A martial arts practitioner wants an outcome where they will not get hurt, and even try to settle the altercation without severely hurting their opponent.

In a combat situation, understanding an opponent’s motivation is important. A street fighter facing a martial artist is a conflict of diverging motivations: The martial artist wants to leave the conflict causing minimum harm while the street fighter wants to inflict maximum harm.

Violence is a mixed bag of anger, fear, and heightened emotion.
Martial Arts concentrate on skill, composure, and technique.

Students who are motivated by self-defense typically won’t stick with training for long. They find themselves leaving after a short time, once they’ve learned enough self-defense to satisfy their minimum requirements. Most violent confrontations are the result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Practitioners of Krav Maga such as police officers, bouncers, or bodyguards – are often situated in the wrong place and the wrong time.  A majority of society will not see such violence if they avoid locations where violence occurs. In other words, training for an altercation that is unlikely to occur in one’s lifetime is not a reasonable objective. Spending years training for a chance encounter is not a good balance of one’s personal investment against personal risk.

About the Author

Gabriel Dusil has been a practitioner of Martial Arts for over twenty years. Originally he trained in the traditional style of Shotokan Karate. Gabriel has also trained under Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom and currently trains with Karel Ferus in Prague at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz. More recently he focuses on circuit training, strength & conditioning, and kickboxing.

Martial Arts • Fighting Science Series

If you would like to read more articles in this “Yin Yang of Fighting Science” series, check out these posts:

• 1 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Power
• 2 • Yin Yang of Speed vs. Timing
• 3 • Yin Yang of Fighting Styles
• 4 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Instinct
• 5 • Yin Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups
• 6 • Yin Yang of Slow vs. Fast
• 7 • Yin Yang of Perception vs. Reality
• 8 • Yin Yang of Fear vs. Confidence
• 9 • Yin Yang of Threes
• 10 • Yin Yang of Burden vs. Privilege
• 11 • Yin Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise
• 12 • Yin Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance
• 13 • Yin Yang of Attacking vs. Defending
• 14 • Yin Yang of Fighting 360°

Martial Arts • Fighting Science • 18 • Yin ☯ Yang of Martial Arts vs. Combat

The strength of traditional martial arts lies in hundreds of years of its tradition. By design, this also reveals their weakness. Students learn a traditional martial art today, similar to a student 100 years ago. Many schools are static in this regard. As such, they have little latitude to evolve. Their focus prefers tradition over the evolution of fighting effectiveness.  Their martial art may be a single spoke on the expertise wheel, but when exposed to other styles, their effectiveness is often invalidated.

Before the dawn of UFC in 1993, and MMA in general, traditional schools taught a false sense of security. One discipline claimed superiority over another, but there was no platform to prove it. Tournaments focused on specific styles – Taekwondo, Karate, Kung Fu, Wrestling, Boxing, etc. Each style was only tested within the bounds of its style. A practitioner may dominate in one style but crumble in circumstances where their rules are not honored.  For example, it was recently mentioned on Joe Rogan’s podcast that a student training one year of boxing will dominate an opponent training a lifetime in Karate. In addition, testing a single martial art on a good street fighter is a risky business and very dangerous.

Certain Martial arts such as Brazilian jujitsu (BJJ) and Krav Maga had been tested in realistic combat situations; BJJ on the streets of Brazil, and Krav Maga by the Isreali military and their defense forces. Krav Maga specifically trains for real-world hand to hand combat whereby BJJ excels in submission techniques that have the devastating potential of break arms, legs or submits the opponent to sleep. The difference is that Krav Maga is more lethal in its design.

Enter Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), born in part from Brazilian Jui Jitsu (BJJ), wrestling, Muay Thai and Boxing, and popularised by the UFC’s launch in November 1993. MMA central purpose was to adopt the best techniques from most effective styles and their best practices. This evolving martial art combines the eight strikes of Muay Thai, the movement of a boxer, take-downs from Judo, grappling from wrestling, and submissions from BJJ. The elegance of MMA is that there is no right or wrong answer.

MMA strength lies in an evolving discipline whereby
new techniques are tried and tested for their effectiveness.

Many styles have been obsoleted by MMA’s evolution. For example, Taekwondo, Karate, Kung Fu, Tai Chi, and other traditional martial arts have proven ineffective against an MMA opponent. Although traditional clubs offer valuable training to young students seeking disciple, strength, and conditioning, these disciplines represent only one spoke on the wheel of combat expertise. A student wanting to expand their horizons in the field of combat must open their doors to multiple disciplines.

MMA is an evolving sport, meaning that any given technique is not necessarily right or wrong. Today’s techniques are not black and white in their effectiveness, but a grayscale that is striving for perfection.

A martial arts student may say, “I don’t understand your approach to this technique – I was taught to do it a different way”. They are influenced by their previous teachings, and they have not been exposed to the wider horizons of combat training. A good instructor would listen to the student’s perspective, and rather than say it is wrong, he or she would try to understand the context of why it was taught that way, and explain why their approach is superior. Moreover, in rare circumstances, a confident and progressive teacher may adopt the student’s approach as an evolution of that technique. In this way, MMA is a representation of both science and art. Its artistry is maneuvering the body in creative ways to defend and attack. MMA science is practicing the “rule” until a better one supersedes it.  It doesn’t mean the older technique was wrong. It just means the newer one is incrementally better.

About the Author

Gabriel Dusil has been a practitioner of Martial Arts for over twenty years. Originally he trained in the traditional style of Shotokan Karate. Gabriel has also trained under Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom and currently trains with Karel Ferus in Prague at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz. More recently he focuses on circuit training, strength & conditioning, and kickboxing.

Martial Arts • Fighting Science Series

If you would like to read more articles in this “Yin Yang of Fighting Science” series, check out these posts:

• 1 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Power
• 2 • Yin Yang of Speed vs. Timing
• 3 • Yin Yang of Fighting Styles
• 4 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Instinct
• 5 • Yin Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups
• 6 • Yin Yang of Slow vs. Fast
• 7 • Yin Yang of Perception vs. Reality
• 8 • Yin Yang of Fear vs. Confidence
• 9 • Yin Yang of Threes
• 10 • Yin Yang of Burden vs. Privilege
• 11 • Yin Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise
• 12 • Yin Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance
• 13 • Yin Yang of Attacking vs. Defending
• 14 • Yin Yang of Fighting 360°

Martial Arts • Fighting Science • 17 • Yin ☯ Yang of Vulnerability vs. Opportunity

How does a fighter overcome an opponent with no apparent weaknesses? The trick is to create an opportunity. To realize that every attack opens a vulnerability. For example, if the left fist is executing a jab, then only the right fist is protecting the opponent’s head. Their left side is exposed during the attack. But this vulnerability can only be capitalized if a counter-attack is timed correctly.

Fighters are the strongest and weakest when they attack.

Students have a vast array of vulnerabilities that can be exploited by their opponents. All vulnerabilities need to be identified and mitigated. A good fighter possesses several attributes in their wheel of expertise:

  • Their guard is strong, balanced, and stable,
  • They protect themselves when attacked and when attacking,
  • They maintain their composure during a fight,
  • They can maneuver (aka. “dance”) around their opponent,
  • They are mentally & physically strong
  • They are conditioned.

A good fighter is effective at timing their counter-attacks at the moment of being attacked. This requires calmness, confidence,  athleticism, and skill.  In the absence of an attack, a good fighter reverts to creating opportunities through fakes, multiple combinations, and movement. In some instances, forcing an opponent into their own chaos will single-handedly create an opportunity that ends a fight. (See Martial Arts • Fighting Science • Fighter’s Curve).

As humans we are flawed. In fighting, the trick is to identify an opponent’s flaws and exploit them.  “No one is perfect” is as much a clique as fact. Each person has their own set of unique strengths and weaknesses.  There is no such thing as a “perfect fighter”.  This evidenced by the “Champion’s Dilemma” (figure below) – Fighter A can beat Fighter B; Fighter B can beat Fighter C; But Fighter C can also beat Fighter A.

How is this possible? How can each opponent both win and lose in this triad? In MMA it is often said that “styles make fights”. Meaning that two fighters with varying skill-sets face each other to showcase their martial arts skills.  Will a wrestler beat a boxer? Will a Muay Thai fighter beat a Kickboxer? All these questions have been answered in the UFC’s Octagon, and other MMA and cage fighting events. Having disparate fighting styles compete against each other, exposes their advantages and disadvantages. In the example above, Fighter A has a style that dominates over Fighter B, but not Fighter C.

Professional bouts focus on strategies that directly exploit
skill-sets that collectively lead to victory.

In any case, fighters can have a bad night, or have personal or physical issues that prevent them from performing at their best. It is said in combat sports, that everyone has a “puncher’s chance“. Meaning that any fighter can get lucky on any given night. To minimize the chance of a lucky punch, professional training camps often focus on the meticulous analysis of their opponent’s past fights.

About the Author

Gabriel Dusil has been a practitioner of Martial Arts for over twenty years. Originally he trained in the traditional style of Shotokan Karate. Gabriel has also trained under Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom and currently trains with Karel Ferus in Prague at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz. More recently he focuses on circuit training, strength & conditioning, and kickboxing.

Martial Arts • Fighting Science Series

If you would like to read more articles in this “Yin Yang of Fighting Science” series, check out these posts:

• 1 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Power
• 2 • Yin Yang of Speed vs. Timing
• 3 • Yin Yang of Fighting Styles
• 4 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Instinct
• 5 • Yin Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups
• 6 • Yin Yang of Slow vs. Fast
• 7 • Yin Yang of Perception vs. Reality
• 8 • Yin Yang of Fear vs. Confidence
• 9 • Yin Yang of Threes
• 10 • Yin Yang of Burden vs. Privilege
• 11 • Yin Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise
• 12 • Yin Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance
• 13 • Yin Yang of Attacking vs. Defending
• 14 • Yin Yang of Fighting 360°

Martial Arts • Fighting Science • 16 • Yin ☯ Yang of Physics vs. Physiology

In academia, business, or sports the most ambitious in society strive to reach their maximum potential. But everyone has their limits in cognition, physiology, and the laws of physics. Humans are also bound by the constraints of body structure, genes, weight, and many environmental factors which limit speed, power, and accuracy. It’s important to be cognizant of strengths but just as important to recognize one’s weaknesses. Everyone can improve but ultimately cannot exceed their maximum potential. This is our reality.

Each human has a unique journey towards perfection. This is best illustrated in the “Arc of Excellence” shown above. In mathematics, this is called a negative exponential curve, showing convergence to a certain limit, but reaching this limit occurs at infinity. In the context of fighting science, a student’s potential can be plotted against time. Each curve varies for cognitive and physical potential. The limits of individual perfection depend on fixed factors such as genes, physique, and talent. But the journey relies on variables that can be taught, such as confidence, persistence, grit, determination, drive, and willpower.

Although perfection is unachievable, what’s important is to recognize how to capitalize on one’s strengths while mitigating weaknesses. In any chosen discipline the goal is to get as close as possible to perfection, even if it can’t be reached completely.

Furthermore, a single training method suffers from the law of diminishing returns. This states that investing resources into a specific instance will not have the same incremental proportion of success.  For example, 50 pushups per day will initially output dramatic results. Increasing to 500 pushups per day will be significant, but results will not be a proportional 10 fold increase. Likewise, 5000 pushups per day will not return proportional results against the time invested. It may be wiser to add ten different exercises that work on neighboring muscle groups or to focus on conditioning.

Each person’s potential curve is not smooth. Various factors can affect development such as training holidays or serious injury that results in extended periods of recovery.

The journey to perfection is also dependent on personal lifestyle, environmental surroundings, and training facilities. A trainer may take a student to an artificial maximum, based on their experience and teaching competence. But a student’s true potential may not be realized at that facility.

A student striving for perfection should recognize a club’s limitations and seek out new trainers who can take them to their true maximum. This is especially important for athletes seeking championship status. A few hops may be needed to recognize the diversity and effectiveness of various training methodologies and techniques. A major challenge is never knowing where is one’s perfection limit. A tangential change may surprise the athlete in realizing they had much more scope to their personal development.

Athletes differ in skill and follow their own unique journey along the Arc of Excellence. They may face each other in competition, at different stages of their development.

As shown in the figure above, Fighter B began training earlier than Fighter A but has a lower level of overall talent and potential.  If they meet in competition when Fighter A begins training, then Fighter B will win. But once Fighter A’s potential is realized,  he or she will quickly supersede Fighter B.

About the Author

Gabriel Dusil has been a practitioner of Martial Arts for over twenty years. Originally he trained in the traditional style of Shotokan Karate. Gabriel has also trained under Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom and currently trains with Karel Ferus in Prague at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz. More recently he focuses on circuit training, strength & conditioning, and kickboxing.

Martial Arts • Fighting Science Series

If you would like to read more articles in this “Yin Yang of Fighting Science” series, check out these posts:

• 1 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Power
• 2 • Yin Yang of Speed vs. Timing
• 3 • Yin Yang of Fighting Styles
• 4 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Instinct
• 5 • Yin Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups
• 6 • Yin Yang of Slow vs. Fast
• 7 • Yin Yang of Perception vs. Reality
• 8 • Yin Yang of Fear vs. Confidence
• 9 • Yin Yang of Threes
• 10 • Yin Yang of Burden vs. Privilege
• 11 • Yin Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise
• 12 • Yin Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance
• 13 • Yin Yang of Attacking vs. Defending
• 14 • Yin Yang of Fighting 360°
• 15 • Yin Yang of Teachers vs. Students
• 16 • Yin Yang of Physics vs. Physiology

Martial Arts • Fighting Science • 15 • Yin ☯ Yang of Teachers vs. Students

Teachers have a grand responsibility to transfer knowledge to their students. Within any profession, there are good teachers and well,… not-so-good ones. Teaching requires confidence, assertiveness, and knowledge. If confidence is lacking then students won’t respect them. Likewise, sub-par teachers hide their shortcomings in counterproductive ways. For instance, an insecure teacher will not want a student to supersede their skills. They treat knowledge transfer as a glass ceiling, with an agenda of, “I want you to be good, but not better than me”. Insecurity leads to treating students as rivals. This comes from an intrinsic weakness to protect their position of dominance. If their student supersedes them, they feel their dominance will be threatened.

Teachers shouldn’t treat knowledge as a glass ceiling.

When a teacher views their student as an opponent, their knowledge transfer is dramatically compromised. Insecurity leads to not wanting to teach students their deepest “secrets”, for fear that one day they will challenge their leadership. In the presence of a glass ceiling, an insecure teacher will not reveal their secrets. Likewise, a dilemma occurs when a student perceives their teacher as an opponent. When this happens the student is blinded from learning, because their goal is to win and not learn. In our full-cup analogy, they are clouded by ego and victory.

To learn effectively,
a student must check their ego at the door.

Insecurity leads to complicated interactions in society, not just in combat sports. These issues can apply across all layers of society – between colleagues, friends and even family members. It’s important to recognize insecurity, externally and internally. Understanding how one’s insecurity is received by others, and how external insecurity is manifested. It’s important for teachers to recognize their insecurities. Recognizing these weaknesses is the first step to improving one’s self and the students under their care.

In contrast, a confident teacher will take all the steps necessary for a student to exceed their abilities, and to reach their full potential. This should be the ultimate goal and gratification of a great teacher – to make their students better than them. When a student exceeds their teacher a magical milestone is recognized with pride and joy. At that moment there is satisfaction in knowing they have succeeded in transferring all of their knowledge. It may also mean that the student must find a new teacher to take their skills to the next level. This is a humbling moment on both sides and should be anticipated as a likely outcome.

Teachers are forever students.

A humble teacher knows that their knowledge is a continuous evolution, even in the face of their students. A confident teacher will allow themselves to learn from their students. Everyone has a fresh perspective to offer. It takes confidence to learn from a student, to be constantly challenged, and to be open to different perspectives and possibilities.

About the Author

Gabriel Dusil has been a practitioner of Martial Arts for over twenty years. Originally he trained in the traditional style of Shotokan Karate. Gabriel has also trained under Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom and currently trains with Karel Ferus in Prague at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz. More recently he focuses on circuit training, strength & conditioning, and kickboxing.

Martial Arts • Fighting Science Series

If you would like to read more articles in this “Yin Yang of Fighting Science” series, check out these posts:

• 1 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Power
• 2 • Yin Yang of Speed vs. Timing
• 3 • Yin Yang of Fighting Styles
• 4 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Instinct
• 5 • Yin Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups
• 6 • Yin Yang of Slow vs. Fast
• 7 • Yin Yang of Perception vs. Reality
• 8 • Yin Yang of Fear vs. Confidence
• 9 • Yin Yang of Threes
• 10 • Yin Yang of Burden vs. Privilege
• 11 • Yin Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise
• 12 • Yin Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance
• 13 • Yin Yang of Attacking vs. Defending
• 14 • Yin Yang of Fighting 360°

Martial Arts • Fighting Science • 14 • Yin ☯ Yang of Fighting 360°

Consider for a moment that expertise is represented by a wheel. In combat training, when a student learns a new martial art, they are adding new spokes to their wheel with each one representing a collection of techniques and their investment. Each spoke further strengthens the wheel.

The wheel is also a representation of expertise. Each spoke reflects the knowledge accumulated in a given style. The thickness of each spoke is represented by the time invested in that style, as a representation of the 100-1000-10000 rule.

This analogy can be translated to any academic discipline, trade, or sport – to explain an individual’s breadth and depth of knowledge. This can explain expertise in medicine, information technology, law, engineering, etc. It also helps to identify weaknesses that should be addressed to strengthen an individual’s wheel of expertise.

To round out this analogy, it’s important to mention the center of the wheel. This hub represents talent or natural instincts. A strong hub sets the groundwork for strong beginnings, but spokes are still needed to grow the wheel.

When applied to MMA spokes represent different martial arts. The main pillars of MMA are boxing, Muay Thai, wrestling and Brazilian jiu jitsu. The thickness shows the investment in perfecting the style’s techniques. The length of each spoke is the number of techniques acquired, otherwise known as degrees of freedom. The goal is to grow the wheel in equal measure, so that it’s balanced and strong. For example, if too many techniques are learned without traversing the 100-1000-10000 rule, then the spoke will be long yet thin. Investment in repetition will thicken the spoke. Likewise, focusing on only a few spokes (only one or two martial arts) will result in an uneven and unbalanced wheel.

Mixed Martial Arts is about building a strong wheel. If a spoke is missing then the strength of the wheel is compromised – meaning that there is a vulnerability in the student’s portfolio that needs to be addressed because a future opponent could exploit such weaknesses.

A master of the arts can be represented by many thick spokes and a large wheel – reflecting years of experience. When a student asks a question it’s up to the teacher to understand the student’s perspective and answer from that point of view. A master can see the wheel from the inside-out as well as outside-in, and reflect on the wheel in its entirety. A master can take a question from any perspective, and guide the student to an answer they are most likely to understand and absorb. A master has the ability to answer the student’s question from any vantage point.

Missing spokes are only weaknesses when exposed to an external force that identifies the vulnerability.

The wheel of expertise gives students
a 360° perspective

For example, wrestlers in their domain have weaknesses specific to their style, but this is only one spoke of the wheel. If a wrestler encounters a boxer, then their missing spokes will be revealed. Seen from a different angle – if a wrestler doesn’t even know the existence of boxing as an alternative fighting style, they will be oblivious to the strengths of that style, or the contrasting weaknesses of their own style. This awareness also allows the wrestler to “fight their fight”, meaning that in the absence of a boxing spoke they need to avoid strikes and manipulate the fight into a wrestling match. Mixed Martial Arts looks at combat in its entirety, and strengthen their wheel spoke by spoke.

Each spoke add to a teacher’s arsenal of knowledge. More importantly, it brings a more colorful range of perspectives to their students. The visibility of inter-comparison between styles helps to explain why one technique is inferior or superior to another.

About the Author

Gabriel Dusil has been a practitioner of Martial Arts for over twenty years. Originally he trained in the traditional style of Shotokan Karate. Gabriel has also trained under Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom and currently trains with Karel Ferus in Prague at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz. More recently he focuses on circuit training, strength & conditioning, and kickboxing.

Martial Arts • Fighting Science Series

If you would like to read more articles in this “Yin Yang of Fighting Science” series, check out these posts:

• 1 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Power
• 2 • Yin Yang of Speed vs. Timing
• 3 • Yin Yang of Fighting Styles
• 4 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Instinct
• 5 • Yin Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups
• 6 • Yin Yang of Slow vs. Fast
• 7 • Yin Yang of Perception vs. Reality
• 8 • Yin Yang of Fear vs. Confidence
• 9 • Yin Yang of Threes
• 10 • Yin Yang of Burden vs. Privilege
• 11 • Yin Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise
• 12 • Yin Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance
• 13 • Yin Yang of Attacking vs. Defending

Martial Arts • Fighting Science • 13 • Yin ☯ Yang of Attacking vs. Defending

Fighters need to understand the interconnected relationship between attacking and defending. Beginners assume that they need to split their resources between the two. For instance, when they are 100% attacking then they feel there is no room to defend. Likewise, when they are defending 100% they think there is no room to attack. In fact, there are two distinctive and parallel resources: One for attacking and one for defending. It is entirely possible to be attacking 100% and defending 100% at the same time. So what does this mean in practice?

When executing an attack – a punch for example – beginners are typically unaware of their defenses. They unconsciously feel that since they are attacking, they are no remaining reserves, other than their attack. Essentially they are blind until their attack is finished. An advanced fighter will defend throughout the execution of their punch – from the time it is extending until it returns to their guard. In practice, this means they are attacking 100% and defending 100% of the time. This approach allows for a split-second change in plans in the event that their opponent reacts unexpectedly in the midst of the attack.

Let’s say that a punching attack begins at 0% – at 50% completion the strike meets its opponent – at 100% the fist is back in the fighter’s guard. An advanced fighter may decide 30% into an attack to change plans because the opponent makes an unexpected movement. These are the intricacies of combinations. It’s not enough to have five or seven moves that are executed in succession, but rather how those moves need to be modified, and combined with defensive moves throughout the engagement.

Fighting is a chess match,
but decisions play out in real-time.

Fighting is often compared to chess. As in chess, both players plan many moves ahead. The more moves a player can plan into the future, to fulfill their plan, the wider their strategic advantage. Fighting is similar. Each move results in a counter-reaction. These reactions may require a split-second change as they play out in real-time. This essentially separates chess from fighting: In chess competition, a clock allows for players time to think. But fighters need to react on-the-fly and in real time.

About the Author

Gabriel Dusil has been a practitioner of Martial Arts for over twenty years. Originally he trained in the traditional style of Shotokan Karate. Gabriel has also trained under Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom and currently trains with Karel Ferus in Prague at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz. More recently he focuses on circuit training, strength & conditioning, and kickboxing.

Martial Arts • Fighting Science Series

If you would like to read more articles in this “Yin Yang of Fighting Science” series, check out these posts:

• 1 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Power
• 2 • Yin Yang of Speed vs. Timing
• 3 • Yin Yang of Fighting Styles
• 4 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Instinct
• 5 • Yin Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups
• 6 • Yin Yang of Slow vs. Fast
• 7 • Yin Yang of Perception vs. Reality
• 8 • Yin Yang of Fear vs. Confidence
• 9 • Yin Yang of Threes
• 10 • Yin Yang of Burden vs. Privilege
• 11 • Yin Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise
• 12 • Yin Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance
• 13 • Yin Yang of Attacking vs. Defending
• 14 • Yin Yang of Fighting 360°

Martial Arts • Fighting Science • 12 • Yin ☯ Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance

Throughout this “Martial Arts • Fighting Science” series, we delve into various dualities of combat sports. They are presented opposing views, in the Yin Yang spirit of the ancient Chinese philosophy. It is important to note that throughout this series, there are no binary rules. A technique that applies today may be proven inefficient or ineffective tomorrow. This is the beauty of combat sports and ultimately the evolution of humanity. We may be limited by the constructs of our physiology and the laws of physics – but as humans evolve so does combat sports.

Humans are the only species on earth who
incrementally evolve each generation.

The introduction of MMA demonstrates this evolution. MMA focuses on the most effective combination of movements for a given scenario. This methodology can be extrapolated to many facets of society. Opposing forces may include countries, companies, clubs, or individuals. Tactics and strategies always come down to humans, regardless of its scale. Sun Tzu’s, “Art of War” is often cited in business as a means to understand an opponent.

The perspectives laid out in this series are meant to expand the horizons of a fighter – to look at their discipline from a different perspective. Although intermediate and advanced fighters may gain insight in these posts, a counter-argument may be, “I know a better way of doing that”, or “my style disagrees with your approach”. For this reason, it’s important to understand that the perspectives chosen in this series are to expand the horizons of a fighter. We want to give students a foundation of knowledge, and solidify that knowledge through dedication and discipline. Only once this foundation is established then latitude can be given to breaking rules:

You need to live the rule before you can break it.

For example, one mistake beginners tend to make is to mimic the movements of professionals. They learn to maintain their guard by covering their face with their fists when fighting. But they watch a professional bout and see that a fighter  “show-boating” with their hands down. A beginner may interpret that approach as the proper fighting tactic. But that pro-fighter will have spent years honing their basics. Their hands may be down for tactical reasons to draw-in their opponent for a counter-attack. In other words, they are breaking the high-guard rule on purpose. Before a rule can be broken a fighter needs to live the rule until it becomes apart of them.

About the Author

Gabriel Dusil has been a practitioner of Martial Arts for over twenty years. Originally he trained in the traditional style of Shotokan Karate. Gabriel has also trained under Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom and currently trains with Karel Ferus in Prague at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz. More recently he focuses on circuit training, strength & conditioning, and kickboxing.

Martial Arts • Fighting Science Series

If you would like to read more articles in this “Yin Yang of Fighting Science” series, check out these posts:

• 1 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Power
• 2 • Yin Yang of Speed vs. Timing
• 3 • Yin Yang of Fighting Styles
• 4 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Instinct
• 5 • Yin Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups
• 6 • Yin Yang of Slow vs. Fast
• 7 • Yin Yang of Perception vs. Reality
• 8 • Yin Yang of Fear vs. Confidence
• 9 • Yin Yang of Threes
• 10 • Yin Yang of Burden vs. Privilege
• 11 • Yin Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise
• 12 • Yin Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance
• 13 • Yin Yang of Attacking vs. Defending
• 14 • Yin Yang of Fighting 360°

Martial Arts • Fighting Science • 11 • Yin ☯ Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise

Before an attack, any motion will signal an anticipated action. Each twitch, shuffle, dance, inhale, or blink, will give away a fighter’s intentions. This is called telegraphing – when a pre-action gives away an anticipated action. Throughout combat training student’s are taught to remove any evidence of telegraphing.

One technique to achieve a successful attack is to maintain eye level with your opponent. For example, if the fighter’s eye level suddenly elevates, then it may look like they are hopping into the attack. If eye-level dips, then it will look like they are is preparing to leap forward.

Less telegraphing means more surprise. Some students confuse this with faster motion since the fighter is unable to anticipate the move. They interpret the strike as being fast when in reality, the opponent’s latency is decreased because all signals that an attack is about to happen were removed. The attack’s execution is restricted to core movements only. Nothing more.

Not every student may have talent and speed,
but every fighter can learn to
Reduce any technique to its essential elements.

The goal is to surprise the opponent by your attack. This is sometimes referred to as learning to be “explosive”. In the case of punching, by maintain eye level, and focus on swiveling the hips for a jab or cross then the physiology of the body is optimized for maximum power.

Furthermore, it’s important to realize that power originates from the floor. Beginners often punch from their shoulder, which significantly restricts its effectiveness. Punching power originates from the foot’s anchor point, and this force travels through the hips, into the shoulder, and then to the fist. In many punches, the shoulder’s role is merely 20% of the striking power. 80% of the power comes from the anchor (foot) and the hips.

Putting this into practice, boxers will lunge forward with their front foot off the ground, and back foot digging into the floor (see the “Boxing Power” figure above). This turns them into a rocket, by using the ground as leverage. It’s a hard technique to master because beginners have a tendency to move forward putting weight on their front foot, turning their attack into a human teeter-totter. This stems from the fact that walking uses the same technique, but it doesn’t work for fighting. There is no power in this attack, although it’s often used in point-fighting tournaments because it’s faster. A boxing strike requires leverage that is more like skating, which requires digging into the ice with your back foot to move forward. Except, in this case, the fighter digs into the tatami with the front foot to move forward. In boxing this is called “shuffling”, and it’s how the strongest punches are achieved.
Kicking is a different beast altogether. Beginners have a tendency to lean back when they kick because they don’t have the muscles to raise their leg without bending their torso. Nor do they have the elasticity to stretch their muscles for a high kick. The best kickboxers are able to keep eye-level with their opponent when striking with their foot. Only their hips and legs are used to delivering the kick, and they don’t allow their upper torso to telegraph the attack. This also prepares them for counter attacks after kicking. The best kickboxers can separate their upper body from their lower body.

About the Author

Gabriel Dusil has been a practitioner of Martial Arts for over twenty years. Originally he trained in the traditional style of Shotokan Karate. Gabriel has also trained under Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom and currently trains with Karel Ferus in Prague at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz. More recently he focuses on circuit training, strength & conditioning, and kickboxing.

Martial Arts • Fighting Science Series

If you would like to read more articles in this “Yin Yang of Fighting Science” series, check out these posts:

• 1 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Power
• 2 • Yin Yang of Speed vs. Timing
• 3 • Yin Yang of Fighting Styles
• 4 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Instinct
• 5 • Yin Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups
• 6 • Yin Yang of Slow vs. Fast
• 7 • Yin Yang of Perception vs. Reality
• 8 • Yin Yang of Fear vs. Confidence
• 9 • Yin Yang of Threes
• 10 • Yin Yang of Burden vs. Privilege
• 11 • Yin Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise
• 12 • Yin Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance
• 13 • Yin Yang of Attacking vs. Defending
• 14 • Yin Yang of Fighting 360°

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