Friday, January 20, 2012

Asymmetrical weapon training

My friend and main RMA teacher Alex Kostic bases his training methodology on a dichotomy, for which he has a term that I really like – symmetrical vs. asymmetrical work. In the empty handed methods of fighting it is pretty obvious, and a lot of schools, especially those that are at least declaratively aimed at self defense, address some of the main forms of asymmetrical situations – empty handed against weapons, fighting against multiple adversaries, from the grounded position etc.

However, the grand majority of weapon-based methodologies seem to disregard this important aspect. Namely, it is much more common in these systems to debate over the value of “dueling” approach compared to scenario-based methods etc. Of course, some of them are clever enough to include both training methods, so the entire debate by now is something of a moot point. Nevertheless, although the asymmetrical work with weaponry is not fully non-existent, it is still more of an exception than the rule.

Outnumbered scenario in Jogo do Pau

OK, what exactly do I mean by asymmetrical in this context? Well, maybe we could divide the types of “inequality” into two rough categories. First, obviously, different weapons, like for example long vs. short (staff/stick, sword/knife…); blunt vs. edged (stick/knife, machete/staff…); flexible vs. blunt, firearms vs. edged … you get the point.
Blocking a flexible weapon?
Obviously, in each of those (or other possible) combinations, each of the weapons of choice (or even more probably, of opportunity) has certain advantages and disadvantages over the other, and a serious practitioner has to investigate those. At the very least, if you have your favorite EDC, you need to see how it fares against some other instruments of mayhem (deployment, reach, maneuverability etc).
Can you deploy yours on time?
For example, probably best known group of people who have systematically tested their favorite implement against many others are the Dog Brothers. Even in their early videos they used to go with stick against whatever kind of contact weapon they could find, and to this day they still do some of those “disparate” matches at their gatherings.
Obvously transfers to ASP batons
If you get to think about it, in case of an actual street fight, it is much more probable that if both (or more) parties involved reach for some kind of “force amplifier”, those will probably not be the same. Take a look at the real-world example below, and pay attention at what happens at 0:27 and 1:16. Those are the exact kinds of situations you want to avoid, if wielding a weapon.

Secondly, there are environmental concerns, that apply to both disparate weapons situations and to the ones where similar implements are in play. How about having to fight uphill or downhill, i.e. up or down the flight of stairs? Getting in or out through the door? What about going with your off-hand against his dominant? Maybe being pressed sideways against a wall, so you only have backhand motions available, while he/they have the full range of options?
Environmental concerns
In case you are wondering, yes, I too have to try many of those yet and see where does it take me. However, I firmly believe that the progress begins with asking right questions, so here we go. If you have some experiences and/or pertinent suggestions, your comments are welcome.

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