Check out John Hackleman’s excellent vlog above about the three kinds of fights. Hackleman is Chuck Liddell’s coach, and he makes excellent points about the 3 kinds of fights: MMA fights, kid playground fights, and adult self-defense. If I were a martial arts coach, I would make sure that all of my students knew which fights they were training for. A punch is a punch, and all fights require good physical fitness, but each category has its own goals and aims, and therefore each requires its own preparation. I agree with everything that Hackleman says, and here are some of my thoughts:
a) For MMA fights, the goal is to win by the rules. So if you know there are three rounds of 5 minutes each, you have to budget your energy so that you don’t gas out. If you know that knees to the head are illegal against a downed opponent, feel free to put your hand to the floor so he can’t knee you in the head. If you get an extra $5k for KO’ing someone with a head kick, practice your head kick. It’s not about self-defense, nor is about inflicting pain. It’s about winning in a way that makes sense. If you happen to lose, it could be a big deal but it’s never the end of the world; you can always fight again.
b) For kid playground fights, Hackleman points out that the main reason behind bullying is domination. In a playground fight, there is self-defense involved (don’t put your hand to the floor because you can get kneed to the head), but it’s not life-or-death. In most cases, you’d be best not to simply try to defend yourself and get away. You’re best off fighting in a way that makes a loud statement–punch the bully in the face and make sure he feels some pain. It’ll decrease your chances of future bullying. As Hackleman says, even if you lose in a playground fight against a bully, it’s likely that the bullying will stop. Bullies tend to look for easy targets.
c) Self-defense has no rules during the fight, but it there are lots of rules that could apply in the courts after the fight. You don’t know if your opponent has a knife, a gun, or friends. There are no 5-minute rounds, so expect to go all out–you will be completely gassed after 30 seconds–less if you’re not in shape. There’s no putting up your hands and sparring. As I said, you don’t know if your opponent has a knife or a gun. Once you’re certain it’s going down, you’re just going to charge forward and start throwing. There’s no such thing as losing because if you lose, it’s quite possible you’ll end up dead. And if you win on the streets, you can still lose in the courts.
Of course there’s overlap in all three of these categories, but it’s important to train specifically for what you’re looking to accomplish. There’s no point in studying the repercussions of the law if you’re only doing MMA. There’s no point in training around Unified rules if you’re just doing it for self-defense. If you’re trying to defeat a bully, there’s an entire verbal component of self-defense that you need to train. Regardless of your purpose in martial arts, you need to know what you’re training for.