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Thoughts About Mano-A-Mano (Hand to Hand Combat)

"Pay absolutely no attention to his size, his arrogance, fierce facial contortions, nor his vicious language." - Bruce Lee

Study Your Opponent's Style Before You Attack

Music is all about timing and same can be said about fighting. Lose your timing while singing or playing a musical score during a practice session and every member of the band will stop playing. In private karaoke parties, lose your timing and your friends who understand music will be irritated without you knowing it. In public karaoke bars, you’ll hear silent jeers or boos but loud enough for you to hear it.

Same can be said about fighting. Lose your timing and that will make you lose your balance, your stance, etc., that will crush your fighting confidence; factors that are needed to win a fight! This is a big blow to your fighting strategy and unless you immediately recover from it, your adversary will be able to take advantage of that fatal mistake to knock you down or even kill you especially when he is fast enough. It is for this reason that I advise you to study your opponent’s fighting style first, especially when you are fighting a person you never met before, even before you launch your first attack. Let him attack you first, twice or thrice and you will have a good idea of his fighting style that will give you a big clue on how to hit him back on his next blow. As Bruce Lee once said: "The highest technique is to have no technique. My technique is a result of your technique; my movement is a result of your movement."

Schools teaching students to survive a dangerous confrontation or attack are called "Self-Defense" schools - and not otherwise - if you can find the right word to describe it.

Most professional fighters using any style of fighting technique can effectively launch an effective offense and very good defense. They simply know their opponents by simply observing their hands, feet and their body movements. Reason why they are called "professionals", period.

The majority of us are not really good fighters - I included - for we are not experts nor professional fighters. Some of us just took a short 3 to 6 months course on self-defense and then "finis"; confident that we have learned ample life-saving defense skills.

One thing that I observed, though, professional fighters avoid trouble as much as they can, and they are not easily provoked because they know they can kill with their bare hands.

The same thing cannot be said for those, I'm sorry to say, on the lower ladder, for they have not yet mastered restraint and constraint, and are actually looking for trouble or issue you a challenge for them to be able to test their skill on you in an actual fight. I have met these fighters twice or thrice.

I stand corrected on this statement: My opinion is that most self-defense practitioners are 100% good on "defense" but less effective on "offense", save for those we can call professional fighters. I feel that these fighters can only use 30% of their skill when they are the ones initiating the attack. Please see Fps-4 to see what I mean. Fps simply stands for "First person singular" :-)

Fps-1: A bout with a "Savate fighter"

Fps-2 Fps-3 Fps-4 Fps-5

"Savate" is French boxing, French kick boxing or French foot fighting- Wikipedia

As a working student, I had worked in a big car dealer/service shop as a utility man. We had our lockers in a bathing room provided for car mechanics and electricians and other blue collar workers like me.

There was this fellow who was always bragging his Savate skills and bullying all of us by practicing his kicks on our wooden lockers, destroying the wooden locker door's hinges. Because his behavior was of much concern to me, I planned well on what to do and rehearsed it in my mind every night before I slept. I also did some shadow boxing and punching bag practices. I thought that just in case a fight with him does happen, I need to bring the fight where he could not effectively use his feet: The answer was the locker room itself since it was not so wide (just about 3meters) with a small table and some chairs around it.

The guy was surprised when I complained after he kicked my locker door open in my presence as others never did. He challenged me to a fight. I responded by immediately giving him an open palm blow to the chest, it was so strong that it made him flinch back 3 or 4 steps. He then gave me several kicks, left foot, right foot, that landed on the lockers as I evaded, or hit the obstructing chairs and tables as he swung his foot, which made him almost lose his balance. This gave me the chance to close in, landing several punches to his face and body. He could do nothing as the room's space was not wide enough to move and swing his feet. I was wondering why he can not even use his hands to punch me back. Probably, this guy concentrated more on fighting with his feet and practiced very little punches. He almost hit me on the chin, though, at very close range of less than two feet when I cornered him, by turning on his side and delivering a very strong kick to my chin. I should have been knocked out if I was not able to evade it.

The fight was ended by the security guard. His face sustained several ugly bruises that made him humiliated and lose his self-esteem. He became a changed man after that, but we never became friends. We never ever did, anyway.

The guy was lucky, he should had been in a worse condition if he fought a real boxer.

I still consider the incident a "controlled fight situation" since there are so many people around to break it just in case it goes out of hand.

Fps-4: A fight with a multi-martial arts practitioner:

Fps-1 Fps-2 Fps-3 Fps-5

Note: This fight happened a long time ago. What you are about to read is only as far back as I can remember.

The savate guy in Fps-1 had a friend working at another auto service shop branch of our office. I learned the guy was a good martial arts practitioner and they said he once knocked down 3 of his 5 unarmed attackers. This guy was shorter than I do by about an inch, but he had a muscular built and looked fierce and powerful. The guy came in personally to our office to challenge me to a fight. He talked to me in private.

I was actually afraid of him when I saw his built. He looked tough and I had a feeling he could easily knock me down. I said to him: I am not a martial arts practitioner like you and I would never have a chance especially if you use all your skill to me. I explained, too, his friend’s behavior hoping to appease him and get some sympathy, but he still wanted a fight, probably just to test his fighting skills on me. I told him that he might go to prison because you are a "pro" while I am not. I further added, professional fighters like boxers are not allowed to use their hands on anybody since they could lose their boxing license if they could not prove before the sports commission that it was a legitimate self-defense. He then asked me if I was a boxer and I said yes, but just an amateur - his eyes widened a bit, :-). That was just a bluff. I do deliberately use bluff on certain occasions like this one. It delivers some message. I don't overdo it, though.

He raised his voice, maybe to give me the impression that he was not afraid of boxers. He said: fight, if you don't, that's your concern. I'm coming back anytime after office hours and you need to fight me anyway. I was peeved, I do lose my temper easily when somebody threatens me. I told him calmly if you want to fight now then let's do it outside. He did not respond to what I said.

We scheduled the fight on a Saturday after office hours. That's alright, I said to myself, I still have 3 days to practice a bit. I had my DiY punching bag filled with sawdust and sand mix. It was supple at first but became very rigid with continuous punching and you can fracture your wrist if you are not careful.

The fight:

I thought that there would only be about 5 persons to watch the fight. His savate friend, my two trusted friends, and two security guards - one of which was a good friend. But no, there were several spectators. They were practically all there, the mechanics, the electrician, etc, saved for the 3 lady employees of the service shop. Our supervisor was there too to watch the fight, lol! The fight started at around 6:30 PM. The area floodlights were already turned on. The area was quite wide.

- Karate

My antagonist stance was not exactly a karate stance it was more of a boxer stance except that his palms were open. He delivered the first blow - a kick that targeted my stomach area - it was quite straight and I can literally see the sole of his shoe, it was a fast snappy kick. I evaded the two left and right kicks by moving backward while further observing his offense.

I cannot just step backward all of the time during the fight. I must counter his attacks, but I should be very careful. I must be sure to block the kicks near or past his knee where the impact of the kick, I believe, was lesser otherwise, the force of the kick might break my arm. I saw during practice sessions of "karatedos" how hard they hit the punching bag with their shin and I had always been scared of it.

I executed my technique to counter the kicks. He moved in and again made a direct blow to my stomach area. I stepped forward while twisting and leaning my upper body to the right by bending my left forward leg a bit so that my left shoulder faced him. The technique allowed my left forearm to deflect the kick. It was effective! He followed up with his left foot, I just reversed the process. I now believe I could deliver some blows to his face. He used another technique, however when he kicked forward, he followed it up with a swinging blow to my face without even dropping his foot on the ground. I blocked it by leaning further towards him with my left forearm protecting my face. I can almost feel no impact from his blows. Sometimes I used both forearms to block the kicks when I thought it was proper. I made some jabs to his right face after blocking the blows and maybe one or two connected. I felt that made him lose some of his confidence. I felt, too that this guy was not used to delivering punches like his savate friend. He never attempted to deliver one - until later

Judo and wresting

The fight continued without letup. My antagonist now changed his fighting style. He was no longer delivering kicks but came close to hug me and tried to bring me to ground. He could not do it as I was punching his stomach and sides while watching his feet to counter what he intended to do. I punched him hard, punches that I believe were strong due to my punching bag practices.

The guy just threw me, head first with my back on the wall at less than 2 meters away to an adobe wall fence. It should have been better if it was made of smooth hollow blocks.The adobe rock was full of jutting sharp concrete to hold the adobe in place. The place must be very old since they still used adobe fence.

He threw me several times, but I was always able to twist around so only my forearms that I used to protect my face hit the adobe wall. My two forearms are now bloodied from several deep ugly scratches.

I still could not do anything. I just got back and tried to keep him from grappling me and throwing me. It was useless. He threw me to the wall again and again. Looked like this guy really intended to kill me.

I tried to say “Let’s stop this, I can’t beat you!” but the words that came out of my mouth was exactly the opposite! “LET’S STOP THIS, YOU CANNOT BEAT ME!” Probably God just wanted me to continue fighting the bastard.

As I just made him madder with what I said, he threw me to the wall again and again which seemed to be much stronger now and I could feel the impact. Then I remembered the used oil bin located just 5 meters away. I ran to it and immersed my arms in it. I quickly put some on my neck and face.

He followed me and we continued fighting. The used oil was effective. He now had difficulty trying to throw me to the wall as I was able to slip my hand from his grip. I delivered several punches to his face and body.

He then hugged me, lifted me up and turned my body upside down. The guy tried to slam my head to the rough concrete floor. My left forearm cushioned the blow. My head was still about 3 inches or more away from the floor. The hug, however, left my feet free which made me able to deliver three or four kicks to his a face with the heel of my left shoe. He released me but quickly held me down with a wrestling lock. I could not move nor do anything. He swung and hit my face left and right several times with his clenched fist. One of his hands was free while I was locked up. My security guard friend stopped the fight. He obliged.

I thought the fight was over. I was resting my elbows on a moveable car barricade when he came in and delivered a strong right punch to my face. It hit my left lip. Suddenly, I was a different person, I threw all caution away and attacked him like a mad dog with a flurry of left and right punches to his head and the sides of his face while he was covering his face with his two arms. He was trying to move away but I always followed. All he can do was cover his face. No more kicking, no more grappling, no more hugging. I was a bit surprised why this guy did not even know how to duck or to step aside to avoid my punches.

The treacherous punch was the only one he ever delivered.

The security guards stopped the fight.

Some comments:

- Our supervisor who was also martial arts enthusiast told me later that my antagonist delivered roundhouse blows. He said I was really fast to counter his attacks and was glad that I managed to block them all. He said that what pinned me down was a wrestling hold called half nelson where one of the hands is free

- My friends say the guy lost some his self-esteem, because of a black eye on his right eye and the several ugly lumps his face sustained. I can't help but wonder, I was not able to hit his face strong enough to cause a black eye, it must had been the heel of my shoe that did it.

.My thoughts on the fight:
- It was still a controlled fight situation.
- He won the fight. If my security guard friend did not stopped him when I was locked down, the guy could have been able to cause me severe injury or even strangled me to death.
- I wonder why the swinging fist blows I received on left and right side of my face while I was down left no marks, not even a slight swelling on my face. My face sustained no visible mark except for the cut on the left side of my lips that needed two stitches and was conveniently covered with a bandaid.
- My left and right forearm got swollen but nobody noticed. :-)
- Just a theory: I forgot one very important factor: I should have grabbed his foot and tripped him down; and the moment he tries to get up, deliver a kick to his face or chest. Yes, I also know how to kick - but only low kicks - similar to the Bruce Lee low kick technique.

Addenda: There was no Bruce Lee movie released during that time yet saved for the television series Green Hornet where Bruce Lee was the fictional character "Kato".

By the way, long before the movie Karate Kid was made into a movie, I was already practicing what the master taught the boy in that movie: The circular motion of cleaning the cars. Somebody taught me this technique years ago but not while cleaning cars, lol! The technique he taught me included some steps backward, forward and even sideward as I make the circular motion up then down clockwise or counterclockwise coupled with some variations. This technique saved my life from a knife attack when car riding burglars accidentally left one of their cohorts when the burglar alarm of my car went off at about 3A.M in the morning. The one left behind drew a 6-inch "tres kantos" and stabbed me. I was able to parry the knife thrust and disarmed him. The technique also helped me block all the kicks of my antagonist in Fps-4, too.

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