T Nation

What Combat Sport to Choose?


Is Krav Maga the one Israeli’s use or whatever? I know I’ve heard about it on TV but that’s it.


Good questions… I highly doubt it as he would have told me. I’ll ask him. I sure hope not. I’ve never had to personally although I got close in my younger years but was always able to avoid confrontation which is the best IMO. Even if you win… you still could face arrest or even getting sued.


Yes. Krav Maga is a non-sport form of martial arts, meaning it doesn’t concern itself with the opponents’ well-being. I can’t vouch for it as I’ve not trained in it but this would be one of my first to research if I were to get back into some kind of contact martial arts or self defense course only as it peaked my interest.


It just seems very theoretical to swear by then, no?

Don’t get me wrong, I sparred with a Krav Maga instructor before and guy was good. Had a strong technical base and good footwork, and that helps win fights. Relying on “too deadly” trump cards is a poor COA, because the first time you get to practice it is in combat.


All good points. You know how it is, people get really ‘into’ their chosen hobby and really talk it up.



Ok, I’m a (former) judoka and I’m biased but I’d just like to do a quick follow up on @twojarslave excellent post about different types of violence from a fellow former bouncer.

When dealing with social violence, namely bar/nightclub drunk ego fights and so on there’s usually but not always a clear escalation curve - getting into one’s face, putting hands on someone’s shoulder, cursing, shouting before one of the parties summons the courage to throw a sloppy punch.

When it comes to striking martial arts, your response is pretty much binary - you either punch the other guy or you don’t. Now, punching/striking an individual is socially and usually in eyes of the law perceived as a dramatic escalation. This is where judo comes in with myriad techniques to deal with different points by severity on the escalation curve.

Breaking the other person’s grip on your clothes, sweeping the leg or even executing a full throw are extremely efficient methods for neutralizing a threat. If it’s non-predatory violence and your adversary is on the floor and you’re standing, that’s the best option given the circumstances, especially as the average joe doesn’t know how to break a fall.

“Officer, he punched me in the face”
“Officer, he tripped me and I fell on my butt”

The difference in the eyes of the law can be pretty significant.


I feel that my best defense, if I’m out in a relatively dangerous area (walking outside late at night or whatever), is my appearance. Particularly as it relates to ‘predatory violence’ vs ‘social violence’. I’m quite sure there are plenty of socially violent assholes who would see me and think it’d be fun to pick a fight, just to see if they could take me. Those people are not people I would provoke, so they would lose interest quickly. But I assume that the people looking to do serious harm to someone, rob someone, etc, would generally look for an easier target than me.

I completely avoid social conflict. I will never, ever find myself in a social altercation that ends in physical violence. Won’t happen, because it doesn’t have to. I’m in control of that in my world. IF I was attacked by someone who meant to do me harm, I would run away if at all possible. If that was not possible, I would give that person whatever it was they wanted from me, and as twojar said above, hope not to get shot. If neither of those options were possible, and literally the only thing I could do was act physically violently myself, I’d do it, and hope things worked out. To this point in my life, that situation has not come up, and I hope it doesn’t. I’m not about to spend 1000’s of hours of my life training specifically for that though. If I were to train in combat sports, it would be for recreational purposes, not for the purpose of being a badass on the streets.


Penn and Teller’s “Bullshit” series had a pretty eye opening explanation of this. In the discussion of training in martial arts to defend oneself/save one’s valuables, they discuss just how much money you would have to spend AND just how frequently you would get beat up and injured solely to prevent yourself from losing money/getting hurt in ONE encounter. It just doesn’t make good sense. You lose way more money and get hurt more often training to PREVENT it vs just giving away your wallet one time or getting jumped once.


@loppar made great points about the escalation curve of social violence. I’ve seen sucker punches out of nowhere (not on me, but customers), and it’s on at that point, but most of the time there’s a lead-up.

I’ve never, not even once, struck someone on the job. I had an eye-opener in one of my first violent encounters where I shoved a drunk guy really hard when he charged at me and got up in my face. He went reeling backwards a good 10 feet and smacked his head on the pavement. That wasn’t the worst thing that happened to him, but it opened my eyes about the importance of controlling your response, especially considering the guy did not pose a credible threat to me. If I had shoved him in slightly different direction he could have hit a parking stop and fractured his skull, gotten a concussion, or any other number of outcomes I would not want to answer to in court.

Striking can be similarly unpredictable. The saying “everyone has a puncher’s chance” is true, because a well-timed blow can drop someone like a sack of potatoes. One guy I was working with busted a guy’s face open one night, blood was everywhere, the whole bar went ape-shit and the guy ended up in the hospital. That didn’t need to happen. It can also be a great way to break your hand, as another customer managed to do that same night (the night before Thanksgiving, one of the busiest days for bars in the USA). Your hands aren’t taped and you aren’t wearing gloves when you’re out-and-about, so punching with reckless abandon can have consequences for you too.

Grappling gives me options, and I’ve eaten a few minor strikes to get to the positions I’m after (mainly on my feet and on their back, or perhaps pinning someone against a wall if the back isn’t an option for me), but these are also much more common situations. In BJJ class we call it the “drunk uncle” situation. Someone who is threatening others, but doesn’t necessarily require a savage beating or a knock-out. People you don’t want to see seriously harmed.

Of course, I’m biased towards grappling on the job for these reasons, but my $30 an hour part-time side hustle isn’t the real impetus for me coming back to the mat each week. I train because I enjoy it on many different levels.

And yes, if you manage to someday look like @flipcollar or @T3hPwnisher, you will not be seen as a good target for most predators. Toss in good decision-making, and an ounce of prevention can be better than a pound of cure.


Honestly, the circumstances I am currently living through mandate that I be physically fit and ready to seriously injure somebody at a moment’s notice. Please don’t ask. I understand that this is not the case for you because we live different lives with vastly different circumstances. When I get a bit older, my circumstances will not necessitate that I be able to seriously injure somebody if the need arises. I will simply say that mental illness is a horrible thing.


For most people, it’s the pride involved in winning a fight that makes them take up martial arts. It really isn’t about the money — it’s about the fact that you’re giving this money away to a potential thief against your will when you get robbed. Also, bullies.


I 100% agree. If we end up looking like Thor, even better.


I got robbed in Brazil years ago. I’m 6’4 and 250 pounds, a black belt in judo and a blue in BJJ. I gave the equivalent of $12 to a scrawny drug addict in a wife beater who weighted around 155 and carried a blunt kitchen knife whose blade was about to fall off from the handle.

I made a simple calculation - is $12 and a bruised ego a good trade off for not getting cut/slashed/bitten while subduing him and getting HIV, Hepatitis and lord knows what? The answer was yes.


I’d rather be broke with no pride than die with pride.

Don’t get me wrong: I had the action movie fantasies when I was a teenager too, but as I got older I realized I don’t have a whole lot I need to get in a fight over.


I agree with this statement. However, I do think that fighting in order to stand up for yourself against your average school douchebag is a needed skill.

Also, most people have not experienced a robbery like you’ve described — what they’re envisioning is that they’re gonna run into someone on the street and magically be able to kick their ass after a year of haphazard attendance to their classes. I’ve already explained my own reasons for pursuing strength/physical fitness in the post above. I’m simply saying that pride is a big thing for almost everyone who goes into the field — and it’s why most of them quit.


I agree with this. I was merely explaining a lot of other people’s reasoning for taking these kinds of classes, because I’ve seen a lot of idiots come and go over the years.


Ah. Yeah, I’m aware of how many people out there exercise poor reasoning, haha. This tends to stand as a testament to that.


No, I agree. I’m just saying that MA training is not applicable in the stereotypical scenario that many profess when signing up for classes.

That’s a hugely important point. Training a contact martial art demystifies physical contact, so when you’re confronted with a bully, you know more or less what to expect - physical violence isn’t dreaded as much.

As bullies prey on the weak and scared and can smell fear and probe for your weaknesses you or you offspring won’t become their targets.

That’s the reason all of my kids practiced judo - it’s not about fighting in a controlled environment that is a school but having the general idea of what can happen and what should one do in case of physical confrontation with an abusive classmate.


Bullies also generally don’t take martial arts — unless, of course, that bully happens to be the Karate Kid (yes, he was a dick).


On the topic of social violence, I’ve come to believe that most men (and even many women) have a movie script that’s played out in their heads when it comes to a fight. I’d just do this. Or that. Then the other guy will go blam. Hi-YA!

Training martial arts is one way to pop those bubbles, but a lot of guys go through that process when they’re half-in-the-bag at some bar or party.

It’s interesting to see how that movie script fantasy unravels, especially with the dramatic lead-ups that you can see when guys flex their beer muscles in a bar. Some guys just freeze and do nothing, some guys just spaz out, some guys run away and keep running their mouth as they make their way to the minivan, presumably to sober up and take their kids to hockey the next day.

None I’ve seen have moved well, or pulled off anything resembling a technique more refined than a wild haymaker.

I’ve only encountered two guys who impressed me on the job, and neither of them were good fighters. They were just suckers for punishment and took the beatings they got quite admirably. Both even had the stones to fight the cops that eventually came to arrest them. Hopefully they save the police blotter so they can regale their grandchildren with the story of grandpa’s violent coke binge that ended when he got slammed on the ground by a cop and tazered.

Good times.