You train how you fight and you fight how you train.
I ran across this video in an article on Business Insider's website today (which is a reprint of the original article on We Are the Mighty that shows 3 UFC fighters, and Dana White, spending a day at the Marine Corps Martial Arts Center of Excellence (MACE), in Quantico, VA. UFC veterans, Forrest Griffin, Marcus Davis, and Rashad Evans went through a training lane where they'd have to fight their way past marines in a 'no rules' scenario of combat survival. Watch the video to see how they pan out. Spoiler alert, not well for the UFC guys.
What can we take away from this video? Combat sports and military/high risk operator skill sets serve two very different purposes.
Military and high risk operators train to achieve a completely different goal from what MMA and tournament & civilian martial arts train for. And that becomes very apparent at the 5:18 mark of the video. UFC fighter, Gabriel Gonzaga approaches two enemy marines. Right away, he makes two critical tactical mistakes: 1. he puts himself between both opponents, exposing his back to one of them, and 2. he focuses his attack on one opponent. And he immediately paid for it.
In fact, each of the MMA fighters made the same mistake when fighting multiple opponents. They all focused their fight on one enemy while ignoring the other active opponent, and that's why they were each killed in the exercise.
Fighting in the cage/ring/mat against a single opponent is very different from what happens in a combat situation. But what's more relevant to us civilians, is that what happens in a combat situation is more aligned to what happens on the street. Odds are that the guy you get in a fight with has friends, who are not going to wait their turn for you to beat them up. Environmental conditions will not be ideal (see how everyone was slipping around in the snow on the video), weapons can be pulled and used, and there is no referee or coach to enforce rules or call the fight.
Training MMA is training for sport, against a single opponent in a fairly safe environment. If you do train MMA or any other combat sport (muay thai included), it's very important to remember that the objectives of your style aren't the same as the objectives of an armed assailant or a crew that picks fights for fun. The dynamics change outside of the gym.
Here are just a few tips to keep in mind:
1. If you do end up in a situation outside the gym, assume that there's more than one bad guy.
2. In the street, never, ever take the fight to the ground, that's the quickest way to get your head stomped.
3. If/when you find yourself going to the ground, get up, fight your way back to your feet.
4. Keep moving, don't focus on one single individual opponent. Tunnel vision kills.
5. If this is a real concern for you, seek out a local school that trains reality-based self defense where multiple/armed opponent tactics & group psychology principles are applied. Check out one of the following:
- Krav Maga - not my first choice, but given the Krav franchise, its the most widely available option.
- If you're near a Senshido school, go there.
- Better yet, if you can train directly with Richard Dimitri, take advantage of that.
- If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, check out the Muay Thai Academy International (shameless plug, it's where I teach, and this stuff is what we cover).
This video was originally posted on You Tube in 2011. Video credit, HarryBank99