Dissecting the varied expressions of martial arts

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“Mumbakki” Daniel Foronda (left) trains members of Russian Special Forces in the tactical use of the knife.

“Mumbakki” Daniel Foronda (left) trains members of Russian Special Forces in the tactical use of the knife.

Moscow, Russia: Very often, people outside of the fighting community associate the term martial arts to karate, judo, or kung fu. I’m saying this without any malice but that is a very narrow definition of martial arts. People nowadays take up martial arts for various reasons: for self-defense, sports, a fitness and health activity, an aspect of entertainment (movies, television shows, circus) and for mental and spiritual development.

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In the past, the martial arts were used to defend territories, and to win wars. In modern times, the lethal techniques used in the martial arts of the past have been reduced or totally removed. Fatal movements such as direct hit to the groin and eyes, elbows and knees to the throat, and direct head butts were taken out and the idea of fighting was reduced into a mere sport (known as sport fighting) that we now see in the Olympics and other sporting events. The art of combat and all its battle-tested tactics used to kill an enemy were now taught only in the military training programs around the world.

In one social gathering I attended, several people greatly opposed the statement that military men are trained to kill. There was even a comment thrown at me that said: “I have relatives who are military officers and they are not trained to kill.” To my disbelief, I laughed inside wondering how this person with a notable position in society would make such a senseless remark.

How can a military man be not trained to kill? The word military means armed forces or armed services. The key word is armed, meaning equipped with weapons. Every new recruit will undergo basic combat training. The key word is “combat.” Those who passed the course will become new members of the armed forces and every one of them knows that their purpose is to carry out the order of the Commander-in-Chief. Whenever there is a national threat, the military put itself in harm’s way and each member of the force recognizes that the reality of taking another man’s life is part of his duty.

The typical training is always close to reality. They shoot on targets outlined as human and not cans of sardines or wooden carnival ducks. Their bayonets pierced through human-shaped straw dummies. They train for extraordinary speed, timing, accuracy and intensity in hand-to-hand combat with the goal of finishing the enemy in the least possible time. An extraordinary military man is encouraged to qualify for the Special Forces. In the United States of America, these extraordinary men carry in their hearts the slogan: “The Few And The Proud.” This special team is called “The Few” because it only has the best, and it is called “The Proud” because its members are very strong and capable. These gentlemen are very dangerous when they are called to fight. Hence the main part of a military man’s job is to be a peacekeeper and protector of the people against any form of threats.

A professional fight analyst need not be a medical practitioner

One need not be a rocket scientist or a Crime Scene Investigator to become a professional fight analyst, nor one needs an extensive medical background to give an expert analysis on any forms of physical confrontation. A professional fight analyst however needs years of experience, preferably decades of actual training, observing the human body’s reactions to pain, and gaining familiarity of the other elements involved such as the location of the fight and approaches to threats. A really knowledgeable fight analyst has the experience of being in the receiving end of knuckles, hard kicks, baseball bat swings, training knives, training guns, and found objects used as weapons. This kind of analyst is able to make a forecast of an upcoming attack, an accurate view of what’s happening during a fight, and an intelligent conclusion as to how the fight has ended. In sports an analyst provides and expert view of the related topic. Very often, a sports analyst is a former athlete who once competed in the sport that is being analyzed.

A competent fight analyst should have wide experience in sports fighting (martial sports) and combat fighting (street fighting and military style of fighting). A martial artist with a black belt degree does not necessarily qualify as a fight analyst. But he or she, however, can make commentaries about his discipline and related martial arts. We all have seen thousands of boxing and martial arts coaches who do not care about being certified in medical science but were able to catapult a fighter from amateur to pro level using only their years of experience in combat sports. The very reason why there are medical doctors standing by in tournaments is because it is not the job of the coaches nor the analysts to recommend if a fight should be stopped for whatever reason.

Analyzing a combat artist’s way of fighting is not easy though. A combat artist (meaning members of the Special Forces, or elite law enforcement units such as SWAT) method of fighting follows no rules, with no referee, and no protection gears such as groin guards, mouthpiece, gloves, and with weapons involved such as knives and guns.

To qualify as a professional fight analyst, one got to have an actual experience, and a lifelong commitment to hone skills in dealing with scenarios involving multiple attackers, fighting in the most disadvantageous and awkward positions even those involving weapons. He records the mistakes of every trainee and finds ways to correct those mistakes because repeating those errors in a real fight could be fatal.

The medical knowledge of a professional fight analyst should cover the following areas: simple anatomy (knowing the vital areas), simple kinesiology (the correct movement of the body while fighting), simple physics (the leverage which every martial artist would learn as they train for sports competition) and first aid (life support).

Continuous training and years of experience would determine one’s capability to analyze a real fight. Whoever insists that a professional fight analyst need extensive medical background is just a wannabe fighter who knows nothing about real fighting, has not engaged in a real fight, and the closest experience they had of a fight is in front of the television watching Manny Paquiao defend his title in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“Mumbakki” Daniel Foronda is an MMA champion and a Filipino martial arts expert. He is currently based in Russia where he is a combat tactical trainer to the country’s Military Special Forces.

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