This subject has come up quite a bit on this forum since I have been viewing it over for the past seven years. Although we ultimately want to avoid trouble and be aware of potentially dangerous situations to help prevent them from occuring, Kenpo teaches us to deal with the worst case scenario.
I have had to protect myself several times, mostly related to jobs. As a normal civilian I have only had to protect myself maybe three times, but as a bouncer for five years I put lots of things to use--primarily in the contact/control manipulation realm. I also worked for Child Protective Services for three years which put me in hairy situations of using mostly the mental aspects of our art--especially the de-escalating of situations when people threatened me for taking their children away.
With all that being said, we train to have good form and to look "pretty" so to speak. Especially throughout the forms. I love it when people say, "Your forward bow didn't look great." Anyway, the news flash is that on the streets it isn't pretty. In fact, it is quite ugly. If you think you will as great as you do in the studio you are nuts. It's not about how you look. It's about getting away alive.
On the streets you will use your conscious mind in the realm of awareness and assessment, but in the heat of a physical self-defense situation you will use your subconscious mind--all of that which is engrained in you through hard core practice and reality based mind set. I believe mindset, attitude and intent are three major indicators of your success or lack thereof on the street.
On the street you probably will not use an ideal phase technique as written. You will use bits and pieces of all techniques. When we look at the ideal phase that doesn't mean that many of the techniques wouldn't work. We just need to realize that the odds of us pulling one off are slim. We will, however, through position recognition be able to continue our action with bits and pieces of other techniques. Let's keep in mind that our goal is to stop the attack and get out of there. If it takes you seven strikes to stop the attack your Kenpo needs work.
In all the physical sitations I was in I used bits and pieces of techniques. I never recall using an actual ideal phase technique in its entirety. Keep in mind our techniques are reaction based. We respond to a certain stimulus: a grab, punch, push, pull, on rushing attack, kick, etc. What do you do when you "have" to strike first? I feel that is where the sparring helps you. I am a believer that sparring is sport and although may assist you for the street in some ways, there are more important methods of training to get you ready for a street encounter.
I have had several instances where I have had to make the first move--mostly in my bouncing days. If I have to break up a fight or throw someone out the door I can't wait for them to swing. I have one self-defense situation where I was in the bar that I worked at, but wasn't working at the time and this big guy with several self-made tatoos walked in and said, "Where is Mike Miller? I am going to kick his ass." One of the bouncers told me about this so I walked up to the guy to calm him down.
When I walked up to him I said, "Hey, buddy may I help you with something?" He said, "Who are you?" I said, "I'm Mike Miller, what can I do for you?" He immediately got right in my face, puffed his huge chest out bringing his arms behind him and said, "You want a piece of the undertaker?" Honestly, I tried not to laugh. Because he was in my comfort zone I though I would leg sweep him taking him down real fast and he probably wouldn't want to fight me after that. So I swept his right leg with my right leg while using a palm strike motion to his chin to put his weight behind him (I did not strike him--just just the palm as a push). He fell back into a table. I stepped back into a left neutral bow at a good distance away from him. He then started yelling some choice words and I shook my finger at him and said, "No more. We are done."
He did not agree so he rushed at me with his right hand cocked high. This was the only self-defense scenario I was in where I struck first. I through a step through right thrusting side kick (using my heel) and hit him square in the chest, which stopped his momentum. On my way down beyond the angle of no return I used marriage of gravity as I landed and gave him a lead right outward diagonal whipping back knuckle to his nose while continuing a figure eight orbit I finished with a right inward handsword to his temple and he went right down. I pinned him down with a close kneel, checked his arm with my left hand and chambered my right hand high, just in case. He was covering his face up and saying, "Okay, okay, I'm done."
I helped the guy up and he had blood all over. I did not realize it but my strike to the nose splattered blood all over me and him. When I helped him up I cleaned him off with some towels. I also cleaned myself up. I asked him why he attacked me and he said, "I just want respect." I told him that he had just gotten his butt kicked by a pip squeak in front of about 50 people. I don't think his approach worked. Keep in mind at the time I was 5'9" 170 pounds and this guy was probably 5'10" 270. He was a big boy.
The next day he called my studio and wanted me to teach him. I told him I would have a meeting with him. He came in and he said, "I have fought a lot of Karate guys and none of them were able to kick me like you did. How did you do it?"
I replied with, "Easy. I lifted my right leg, extended it out and hit you."
To make a long story short I never accepted him as a student for obvious reasons and then after my investigations of him I found out that he was a serious trouble maker in many areas.
I have many other stories I could tell you, some where I was faced with weapons, but I have typed enough. The key is try to avoid situations. I hate fighting and I don't want to use my skill, but it is nice to know that this stuff works.
Michael Miller, CKF
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