MCMAP – and we’re not talking fast food.


Forget about the demo for the MMA guys in the beginning. It’s nice but meant to be pretty and informative. Pay attention to the “Last of the Mohicans” challenge and the choices that the MMA guys DON’T make because, though they are incredible athletes and tough as nails with incredible techniques, they haven’t trained to make ‘field’ choices.

The “One Mind, Any Weapons” approach translates well to civilian training. More than focusing on mastering techniques with various weapons, a strong focus on training the brain makes a student responsive, adaptive, and effective because he (or she) can size up what they have, what they are facing, and what they need to.

I especially like the emphasis on conditioning and mentality in conjunction with technique.

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12 thoughts on “MCMAP – and we’re not talking fast food.

  1. Pingback: the difference between “fighting” and “combat”. « the things worth believing in

  2. What I noticed right away, especially in the 2 on 1 situations is the lack of “tactical positioning”. Instead of lining up the opponents to put one in the way of the other they just went after one guy…one even stepped in-between two opponents. They are trained to fight one on one.

    • Good eye Tom. Along with that I notice the tendency to take way too much time to ‘size up’ things. They all seemed to get into a fighting stance and ‘creep’ into range. This is TOTALLY different than the bayonet course and/or any of the other h2h or cqc training. ‘Size up’ time is microscopic ‘in the field’ and the ‘safest’ place to be is right on top of the opponent because it takes away HIS time to find/draw/shoot weapons and/or the time he has to call for support/teammates.

      Of course, all of this commentary is about military training and military applications, but that isn’t to say that there won’t be times when/if a civilian situation might call for the same micro size up, decisive and aggressively assertive control of time/distance – ‘the only way out is through’ situations might happen ‘on the street’ as well as ‘in the field.’

  3. “Did real well”? They got clobbered: their tactics pretty much stunk or were non existent (blind charge towards the opponent). I’m not a soldier but even I know against two or more opponents you’ve got to keep moving, attack their blind side and avoid getting entangled with one at all cost. I have no experience training with rifles but quite a lot with knives and sticks and I’m pretty sure I could do better than those fellows. This basically shows fighting with weaponry, especially to survive (even empty handed) is a whole different ballgame than competition and MMA, while amusing to watch, is clearly not the pinacle of martial arts as is always spouted by proponents of the sport. US Marines are of course very tough and well trained soldiers and not to be compared to the average civilian but this video shows with the proper training and mindset (including having no qualms about cheating) even professional athletes in combative sports can be beaten. It really was funny how completely clueless they were: even a relative novice in SD and weapons arts will know better than to expose his back to the second adversary.

    • Giving these guys the benefit of the doubt, remember that the MACE instructors are saying “Did real well” about the overall cooperation, attitude, and effort these MMA guys put into the experience, not necessarily how well they did in terms of out come. These guys brought their intensity, heart, athleticism, and open minds to the training (based on the video interviews at least).

      I do agree that this is a good example of how you do have to train for your particular ‘arena’ and NOT assume that because you do one thing, you can do the other without some kind of SERIOUS cross training.

      You mention stick/knife training in your background, so I’m figuring some kind of FMA style, so you have probably seen the ‘stand and duel’ drill approach in many schools – so even the importance of mobility in FMA’s isn’t always stressed enough IMO. I make a point of stating exactly what the focus of each drill is so my students (and I) don’t forget not only ‘what’ we are doing, but ‘why’ we are doing it – because when the ‘what’ (technique) falls apart, you make better improvised choices if you know ‘why’ (tactical goal) you are doing it.

      Thanks for your input and welcome to TacArnis!

  4. I do have experience in escrima yes (Inosanto-blend & Lameco mostly), while a lot of the drills and techniques are done in predetermined partner format going back and forth we also train two against one in a live setting (using soft sticks and rubber knives for safety) since this teaches you to keep moving and always exit on the blind side of one opponent, giving you time to finish him off before the second one is upon you or run if at all possible. I agree having a clear understanding of the goal is paramount since this allows improvisation which can be best trained in sparring but without the point competition system since this does tend to foster the wrong attitude of trading blow for blow and staying put since the armor and/or the practice weapons are of course extremely forgiving while real sticks and especially knives can be lethal or at least very damaging on the first blow, stab or cut. In a fight involving a weapon there is very little room for error and the consequences of losing are infinitely graver than most unarmed altercations. This is one of the reasons why I don’t think MMA matches are a good representation of reality, as well as the possible danger of multiple opponents and the lack of preparation that comes with surprise and ambush. This video is a nice illustration of this, lets hope it opens some people’s eyes who think they are invincible because they train in some variant of MMA, BJJ or other ringsports. I must say I was impressed by the skill and professionalism of these marines, it is indeed true that civilian training in martial arts is not the same as military close combat: the most important difference being soldiers learn to operate as a team and are generally not restrained by legal rules and limitations. I doubt the techniques and training methods (excluding the group exercises and bayonet-firearm drills) differ that much from what you would see in a competent civilian MA school (providing it focusses on SD instead of sports) but then again I have no experience in the military so I could be wrong. I know Paul Vunak trained US Navy Seal units (widely regarded as the best trained soldiers in the US armed forces) in unarmed combat and stick/knifework so the FMA must have some very real advantages as compared to other styles (practicality being one) although the quality of instruction and competence of students and teachers alike will probably vary significantly among schools and styles.

  5. I think MMA’s remind us of how intensity, physical conditioning, mental toughness, and a ‘winning mentality’ are really important to martial arts. MMA’s big stamp on recreational martial arts history is that it shook up the ‘technique is all you need’ type of training that was/is going on. If people are going to claim to be part of some ‘warrior tradition’ when all they do is teach or learn techniques a few hours a few times a week, they are sadly mistaken. Physical conditioning, the willingness to endure hardships, face challenges, and make ‘risk/reward’ decisions are far more important than having a million drills and techniques that you can ‘show’ but can’t make ‘go’ when the fit hits the shan, IMO.

    Boxing only uses a handful of ‘techniques’ yet, because of the way boxers train, it’s closer to ‘reality’ than most recreational martial arts programs in preparing people for self defense/fighting. I think the same can be said about MMA style training. Is boxing or MMA the ‘answer’ to the self defense equation? Absolutely not. No one way is going to teach all that is needed for self defense. But, I think there are many good lessons to take away from MMA type of training – at the very least it’s the fact that it is a hybrid of many systems and doesn’t apologize for not being a “PURE” art like may of the other systems will argue – yet won’t ‘put it to the test’ in a competitive or sparring fashion. MMA’s take what works, test it in their chosen arena, and ‘prove’ it’s success or failure based on the outcomes. I know too many ‘traditional’ or ‘modern’ systems that can’t say that they are willing to do the same.

    • There is merit in what you say, yet when the shit really hits the fan what I’d like most is someone at my side who’s good with weapons and actually has one on him. A trained individual with a weapon is worth 10 or more brawlers.

  6. I do not claim to be a warrior, then again people training in MMA aren’t either. Not even professional fighters since being a warrior implies training for or engaging in warfare for a noble cause (protection of others or one’s country), with disregard for one’s safety (habitually risking death or grave bodily injury). In modern times and in western nations only soldiers would likely fall in that category. Professional fighters clearly do not fight wars, they only fight for mundain ends (entertainment of the masses, income, fame) and they do not run much of a risk of death, at least not more so than others engaging in any type of sports.

    With regard to the question of strength-training: while it should be an integral part of martial arts training I tend to regard it as the least important part for the following reasons:

    1) martial arts were created to counter differences in strength and size by means of superior training (speed, accuracy and immidiate action & reaction to threats) and intimate knowledge of human anatomy and physiology. If you need to rely on strength much your training is deficient and if strength is the deciding factor you might as well become a body builder instead of a martial artist.

    2) if weapons are involved strenght becomes almost irrelevant: with a weapon even a physically weak individual has a pretty high chance of winning against a physically superior individual. Even more so if he has training in weaponry.

    3) strength wanes with age and some individuals (due to their physical make-up) can only improve marginally so for them and anyone who’s interested in continuing training after 40 and still being effective in SD technical & tactical skills (including sparring) should be the mainstay of training. A woman or an old man will never be able to match the average young male in strength and physical prowess yet they can defeat him and protect themselves by quick attacks to vital points (muscles do not protect against strikes to the eyes, groin, knees…) and/or the use of weapons.

    In short: strenght is no substitute for proper training and while basic calisthenes should be included in every training session (if only for warm-up and the prevention of injuries) specialised strenght-training isn’t part of the MA as such and not necessary in order to become a good martial artist. I do see value in this type of training (being strong clearly can’t hurt and it’s been shown to be good for your health) but in my view it’s something to be done on your own since MA training is about technique development and the practice of fighting skills in various formats. If I have a partner and a qualified teacher available I’d rather use that time to practice technique (offense and defence) and spar than having him count my reps on the bench or adding weights to the bar.

    I know this is an ongoing controversy but in my mind at least it’s clear martial sports like MMA clearly aren’t ideal for fighting in a non-authorised setting: of course you’ll learn skills that are useful in SD and sparring is important (who said it is only practiced in MMA/boxing/thaiboxing gyms?) but the tactics simply aren’t suited to that type of fighting and the habits ingrained in you as a result of years of this kind of practice might very well end up costing you your life or health. Weapons-training (employing and/or defending against common weapons like knives, bottles, bats and as far as possible guns) should be integral to the concept of modern SD, as well as multiple opponent scenario’s, sneak attacks… and to the best of my knowledge none of this is ever practiced in the above mentioned sports. The owner of the gym where I train has instructorships in 5 martial arts (kali-escrima, JKD, thaiboxing, silat and mixfight/MMA) aswell as years of professional experience as a bouncher and bodyguard and he fully agrees the common tactics employed in MMA are quite dangerous in anything but one-on-one situations and even then you never know whether he carries a weapon (a nice way of finding this out is to have a knife sticking out of your kidney because you thought it a good idea to do the standard double leg takedown followed by mounting) and you’d better keep to your feet if at all possible. The ability to keep moving (mobility) and run if possible is still the most important factor in fighting and SD.

    Last but not least: I agree some MMA-training is useful and it is wise to profit from the experience gained in the octagon aslong as one doen’t automatically equate it to the street. It’s been shown good defenses against takedowns are vital (often severly lacking in stand-up arts or more traditionally orientated arts) aswell as the need for anti-grappling tactics on the ground but that doesn’t mean MMA is the be all and end all to every problem or the holy grail of martial arts.

    PS: cross-training is a great way of improving on skills that are lacking (no style/system is perfect) and I fully support the notion, putting it into practice as much as possible given the limited time I can allocate to training.

  7. One more thing: I rate endurance-training higher than strenght development for the simple reason that you can’t fight properly when out of breath and it’s a bit ridiculous to see people claiming they can fight while it’s clear they don’t have any stamina. Intensity, pain tolerance and the will to win are crucial to winning fights and hence should be stressed in training (attitude being half the battle). It’s quite easy to spot who’s serious about their training and who’s not because the former always gives it his/her all while the latter slouches and is more concerned with other things than actually getting good at fundamental skills. When I said skill training is important I meant mastery of techniques to the point where they become instinctual, I agree knowing a lot of techniques only superficially (i.e half-assed) is stupid and won’t benefit you much when trouble comes. It’s like my former teacher used to say: it’s better to know 15 techniques extremely well than hundreds that you can’t make work due to a lack of training. There is a huge difference between looking good and competent on the mat or wherever you train and actually getting the job done when it counts.

  8. Great comment about the “15 techniques extremely well” idea. Thanks for comments about strength training. I focus on ‘conditioning’ vs. ‘strength’ training because ‘strength’ training is a component of ‘conditioning’ (as is cardio/endurance training) but the reverse isn’t necessarily the case. “Conditioning” as I mean it is about body/mind preparation. So, getting the cardiovascular system prepared, the performance strength (meaning ‘functional’ strength) prepared, and getting the mind prepared is a ‘Holistic’ approach IMO. There is general conditioning, athletic conditioning, and ‘sport specific’ conditioning when you work with this mentality. General conditioning is developing a good healthy mind/body fitness level for anyone. “Athletic” conditioning is still ‘general’ in the sense that it prepares the body for the rapidly changing conditions that are common to most sports. “Sport Specific” conditioning is just what it means – creating that microscopic ‘edge’ in movements/techniques for a specific sport/application (for example, an MMA guy might do push ups for general conditioning, ‘clapper’ push ups for athletic conditioning, and then do focus mitt/striking drills for ‘sport specific’ conditioning).

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