I would agree that the instructor is what makes the most difference. I studied a few martial arts when I was younger (Judo/ Kung Fu/ Tae Kwon Do). And studied Krav Maga when I was a young adult with an incredible instructor.
But my best experience was in Systema. My instructor was a military guy who had used his martial knowledge in combat (street and military). Two things I loved about the way he managed the lessons. The first thing he taught you was to be humble. He exemplified it even though he definitely could boast if he wanted to. The second thing I loved about learning with him was that we really fought in classes.
There were no rules. We used real punches, real kicks and real holds. And you learn to handle it. I loved those classes.
If you find someone who is that good - study with him. [/quote]
Cool that you got to train with a legit a Systema guy, not too many of them around.
I would argue and disagree with your last paragraph though, specifically the first sentence. The system I train in is seriously hardcore, and back in the day even more so. We’re talking about people getting chunks bit out of them, or fingers nearly bit off; full power strikes to the groin and back of the head (rabbit punches), full speed and power sparring with real impact weapons (and no protective gear), eye attacks, body handles (hair getting ripped out, ears getting nearly ripped off, small joint manipulations (and fingers getting snapped as a result of it, mine included), bareknuckle punches, full power kicks, clawing/scratching, etc…
We call this “Free Fighting” and we’ll still do it when the higher ranks go at it from time to time. The big problem with this type of training though is that injuries are just too common (especially when being done by less experienced people) to make it a common/safe training method, especially when protective gear and more controlled conditions can still create quality fighting skills without such a high risk for injury.
Even during “Free Fighting” though there are rules present (such as you can’t purposely kill your opponent, you have to stop if they submit, or go unconscious), you have to wait till your opponent is ready to begin, you can’t ambush your opponent after you have already given up and they start walking away (though we always train for that possibility anyhow, so you likely wouldn’t be successful anyhow), you can’t actually gouge the eyeballs out of the head, you can’t rip their testicles off, etcetera…
Yes there are far fewer rules than most sporting fights, and far far fewer than point sparring competitions, but there always have to be at least a few rules or you are going to wind up with people being dead, permanently disfigured, or hospitalized on a regular basis and thus you’re gonna run out of training partners/students very quickly.
And the truth is that even 1 rule makes it not a real fight, but at best “realistic” (and yes the fewer rules the more realistic it is, but again there is a risk vs reward that you need to take into account).[/quote]
No one was obligated to participate in any part of the class. As you moved along you joined more and more activities and everyone had the ability to leave or join any activity in the class. If the instructor felt someone was prematurely joining an activity, he would put himself in front of him and show the person with fighting that it was still too early.
I assure you I meant what I said when I said we had no rules. By doing it this way we learned our limits and our teacher had the good sense to lead us back to safer pastures if we were jumping ahead of ourselves.
I think you are missing the point. If you know you are going to be in a fight before it starts, there are rules. If you know that no one will be knifed, there are rules. If you know that if someone gets knocked to the ground their head will not be stomped repeatedly by 5 or 6 of their opponents buddies until they have brain damage, there are rules. If you know that you know that if things get bad enough someone will stop the action before anyone gets killed, there are rules. If your training environment is managed for hazards (e.g. If you get knocked out your head won’t bounce of a curb or you won’t fall into traffic, land on broken glass etc), there are rules.
The fact that a person could choose not to participate in, to leave or join any of the activities and that the instructor was watching and providing a margin of safety also means there are rules. Real, no rules violence does not require 2 willing participants, just 1, and nobody is necessarily there to say “stop”. Training can and should (if real personal protection is the goal) strive to be as realistic as possible. However there are always rules and it can never actually be “real”. That’s why live experience and training are never quite the same and never can be.
I was going to make a snarky comment about reading comprehension but I figure I’d just invite you to one of the lessons when you’re in the area after which we can discuss the idea of rules.
Not sure where my reading comprehension is lacking. You said there were no rules. Sento pointed out how there were still rules. You emphasized again that there were NO RULES. I disagreed.
Look, it sounds like you had some great training opportunities. If I found myself in the area I’d be very interested to check it out. That is, assuming that I could be reasonably confident that nobody will stab me repeatedly in the chest when I think I’m in a fist fight or ambush me and beat the shit out of me in the parking lot after I think class is over. I only ask because those are distinct possibilities if there are, in fact NO RULES, as you are so adamant that there aren’t.
Or how about just show up to class and mow everyone down with an assault rifle? Or pump Sarin gas into the ventilation system and wipe everyone out before they even know you are there? Or throw in a flash bang grenade to stun everyone, then run in and start busting skulls with a baseball bat while everyone is disoriented.
Look, we get it, it was rough training, like I said I’ve done lots of that myself. But there were rules, period. Without ANY rules people would be going to the hospital and/or morgue every time you trained, you would run out of training partners really quickly, and the school would be shut down by lawsuits, insurance companies, or the state in very short order.