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What is combat?


Judo
Photo by Jose Dianes from his page at Flickr


Dear combatants!

I offer to discuss the following topics:

- What is single combat?

- Which contemporary combat forms have applied value?

- What is the role of the spiritual element in single combat?

An attempt was made in the article "Female combat as a specific show" to define a single combat. It can be formulate as following: A single combat (unarmed) is a contest of two persons by using violent body moves. The goal of a single combat is to physically influence an opponent in order to force him or her to give in or to place him or her to a certain position pointed out by predefined rules (or traditions) and against his or her will. From the physical point of view single combat represents mechanical interactions of two human bodies. From psychological point of view this is a struggle of characters, will and patience. The one wins in a single combat who manages to use his or her physical abilities and mechanical laws in more efficient way and at the same time, to optimally use his/her psychic recourses constraining and suppressing an opponent's recourses. If you compare physical combat with other sports and physical activities, the most particular feature of it consists in the violent element.

Nowadays almost any single combat is called MARTIAL. But the goal of martial combat is to kill an enemy in battle, at war. It would request special techniques. Such combat is learned in special troops. In fact, the above mentioned definition matches MARTIAL COMBAT (or martial arts) just indirectly because the goal of martial combat is not winning a contest but destroying an opponent. So, I think we shouldn't use the term MARTIAL in vain.

The rest of combat forms (in fact, the vast majority of them) can be divided into two types - "applied" and health forms. The applied combat styles are those, which might help to defend yourself on the street (for example, boxing). Health combat forms are actually military gymnastics. Their applied values are quite limited. The most of non-contact (controlled contact) styles (karate, etc.) can be placed among them. The particular features of such activities are overdose of training practice and learning kata as well as the rules of sparring and contests being far from real life.

Unfortunately, martial arts schools and teams very rarely (if ever) clearly formulate what combat form they teach and what exactly students would learn and what skills they would acquire there. They often just mislead people, which is not good.

Attention to spiritual aspect is paid in many contemporary combat schools. It's difficult to argue that psychological training a fighter is important, probably the most important. Nonetheless, combat training sometimes is so overloaded by spiritual and paranormal things that it's losing any applied functions.

The typical representative of the spiritual combat is Aikido. Let's consider this form that is very popular among women. The reference book for martial arts and athletic combat (by A.Taras) says the following: Maybe Ueshiba's system really improves a personality by character strengthening and spiritual development. Nonetheless, its techniques have degenerated to the level, which made them inapplicable in real practice. Currently, the most of the techniques can be accomplished only with passive help of an opponent who should allow throwing himself or herself. Other techniques can be successful only if an opponent keeps a firm hold that helps to accomplish a throw. Besides, the Aikido's techniques request opponent to follow the rules. For instance, the opponent is not supposed to use his or her free arm to gouge out your eye or to break your finger or to accomplish low blow The moves which Ueshiba accomplished without any difficulties using techniques of Daito-ru and other jiu-jitsu schools due to his outstanding abilities, other people are able just to imitate in form of STYLIZED ritual techniques, which are ABSOLUTELY USELESS FOR A REAL FIGHT.

There is nothing to add to this statement despite some simplification.

In fact, we need to think what role in combat should play spiritual and supernatural elements. I thing psycho training is necessary for preparation a high qualified fighter. Nevertheless, if just paranormal things predominate in training without combative practice, maybe it's not a combat at all but some kind of religion?

Vladimir Ustimov
Trainer in the club Namazon
July 2004


Julia Volkova, karateist, Russia.

I am happy that a sensible person appeared. I always said exactly the same that he just said and I agree with every his word! Maybe just except "Such combat is learned in special troops" - I personally saw two "civilian" groups where such combat was practiced. But this is of course rare occurrence. Just two groups out of 30-40. But I 100% agree with the rest. In fact, there is nothing to add but the letter must be published (on my opinion)/ One more time - 100% agree!


Marina Kinyakina, freestyle wrestler and trainer, Russia.

When the term single combat is discussed I wouldn't immediately fall it into categories martial and athletic and applied and health ones. Martial combat skills can be used in an athletic combat and vice versa. There are combat form out of this classification, for instance, street fighting. As to applied and health combat forms, I think almost all real athletic combat activities are healthy! I would first determine what single combat is in general. Single combat is an activity where contact counteraction takes place between two opponents either through body parts or by means of combative instruments (if plain weapon is used). Actually we are more interested in unarmed combat here. Single combat is a face-to-face contest occurring in immediate physical contact of two opponents.

Psychological and spiritual capabilities are also important to be successful in combat as well as physical strength and skills. But physical (mechanical) contact is the only ultimate way to defeat an opponent in combat. Non-contact combat is a tautology. You can interpret the term extensively and call a game of two chess or tennis players as a combat. In the first case (chess) there is no contact at all (unless a horse move to head is used :)); in the second case the contact is indirect, through a ball. So, the term can be endlessly discussed and defined in different ways. For me the best definition of single combat is a contest where contestants are physically fighting. The very meaning of the word combat is physical fight. I consider the following forms to be real single combat: freestyle and Greek-Roman wrestling, judo, jiu-jitsu, Sambo, armwrestling, boxing, kickboxing and many other combative sports, as well as street fighting. Though I find it difficult to determine what athletic fencing is. Contact of combative instrument occurs here but there are no violent actions. I wouldn't consider it as a combat though; this sport seems to be closer to tennis than to combat.

Very often when saying martial arts, gymnastic exercises and psychical training are really considered, which are definitely useful for being successful in combative activities (as well as in day-to-day activities). But these exercises are not combative activities yet and people practicing in them are unable to stand in a real combative contest. Whatever excellent spiritual or psychological background you have, in order to defeat an opponent in combat you must physically overcome him or her. Unfortunately, some hosts of martial arts schools use trusting nature and ignorance of people and take mercenary advantage of wishes to physically and spiritually improve as well as to defend themselves. Many of contemporary martial arts schools seem to look like spiritualist clubs.

I think any experienced freestyle wrestler or boxer who is not familiar with intricacies of oriental martial arts wouldnt be second to the most of martial artists in respect to strong-will and moral grounding. In spite of my negative attitude toward boxing, I must admit that boxing perfectly steels combatants will mainly due to building up the skills to endure getting punched. If you practice only to deliver punches without getting them, that will remind boxing by correspondence. :) There is a contradiction though. If you want to become a first-class fighter go to boxing or contact karate and get blows. But blows to head are dangerous, thats why in karate they usually just imitate punches and kicks. But if you just imitate you will never become a real fighter. As a matter of fact, boxing is one of few combative sports where full contact punches to head are allowed. But again, my personal opinion, no matter how good boxing is for cultivating a fighter, I wouldnt advise anyone to be seriously in the sport (particularly, girls) - this sport is not quite health one. :) All the same, if you have to choose between pros and contras, brain is the most important for a human than anything else. At least for me!

Applied value of a combat style consists not only in fighting or defending abilities. Physical and psychical perfecting (real rather than imitational) is as much important as those as well as health reinforcement and preservation are. So, I wouldnt oppose applied and health form of combative sports. I already said that I liked Oksana Grigorenkos idea that practice in wrestling is much better as physical training than martial arts classes or gym exercises. For me freestyle wrestling is the most appropriate form of real combat - its all in one: the applied and health sport and the activity developing strength, will and brave heart.


Oksana Grigorenko, female multi-style combatant, Russia

I made attempts to practice in different combat forms. But just recently I realized that I had acquired some practical skills. I can use these skills in the real life. But if you had the goal to become a real fighter you have spent your time not in the most efficient way. Its up to an individual to figure out if a practice in martial arts has an applied importance for him or for her. But you would test your fighting skills if you participate in a real competitive combat, for instance, according to the mixed fight rules (extreme fight) or get to be involved in a real fight. This is advice mostly for men though. Besides, you shouldnt be misled by the common statement that you need years for getting master skills. If you havent acquired skills during the fist year of your combat practice you wont improve too much during the next five ones.


Vladimir Ustimov. Some addition to Oksanas statement..

Actually, her point is very simple. Since the female combat club Namazon was opened its members are changing their self-esteem. They are left to their own devices and they are able to judge what everyone has learned there. Oksana tries to invite new girls to the club. As to Aikido players it turned out to be clear. She knows a whole group of Aikidzins and she invited them to wrestle or to fight but they dont want. They admit they just cant do anything like that. One of those girls intended to come to us to learn leg techniques but scared of her trainer. Two judoists attend the club. But since our girls wrestle without kimono, the judoists unable to wrestle at all. Just because they cant wrestle without kimono. So, Oksana started reassessing the values. Before she respected individuals possessing belts of various colors but not anymore. Our girls decided to have their own scale of ranks. Anyone who comes to the club must demonstrate her real combative ability. Its just simple. If you consider yourself as a combatant you at least must be able to wrestle and even better to fight.


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