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Your Money and Your Life
on 15 July 2012
Books on the Martial Arts are as many and varied as the styles themselves. The one constant is that they are mostly rubbish and mainly about making money. If you ever read just one book about surviving violence it should be this one. Your money, your life. The author has made me question the effectiveness of anything I learned in the dojo rather than in a real situation and showed that what works in one situation may get you killed in another. He writes from personal experience and has survived more violent encounters than most of readers are ever likely to meet.
Over the years I have read many different books, studied a wide range of different styles and watched more videos than I can remember. I gradually came to two conclusions and didn't like either of them, nor will you. 95% or more of what you learn is useless in a real fight, and there is no secret method, style or technique that will guarantee survival, never mind make you unbeatable. Most styles work very well in the dojo or tournament setting but would you buy a book on origami so you could service your own car?
When I was about 10 years old I realised that the only sure way of winning a fight was to be faster and nastier than the bullies and then they left me alone. I forgot this simple truth in my quest to be better than Bruce Lee but I was never much good at high kicks due to my own physical limitations and two finger press-ups make you good at press-ups, not fighting.
Instructors never bothered to inform me that film fights are meant to look good and engage the viewer, and are about as far from reality as The Force. Most demonstrations of techniques seemed to be to prove they were better than their ookai. They all pedaled the myth that the ultimate warrior will fell his opponent in an elegant and stylish manner to the applause and admiration of the onlookers. Get over it. If a technique looks good then, in my view, it is probably no use in reality. One of my senior students was recently criticised at a grading for "being scrappy" although his techniques were effective. Scrappy? Have you ever been in a street or bar fight that wasn't?