Did martial art perform it’s own knockout game?

Posted on Posted in Becoming the Alpha, Martial art, News, On Combatives

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The knockout game….As we discuss in the CLM manuals, we train in martial art for a purpose: to defend our lives and the lives of others.

Not belts.  Not being a tough guy.  Not cool weapon tricks.  No 80 different submissions.

To defend ourselves and the lives of others.

We can only master ourselves when we no longer fear physical domination by another.

But, has the martial art industry been victim of it’s own knock out game:  the game of what sells?


I have been following the whole ‘knock out game’ controversy and wonder what the martial art industry response will be. Will it be realism? Will it be directing what student’s know toward defense? Will we see ‘knock out game’ ads by the fear predators within our industry?

We will see all three – but what kept me awake last night is will we see a long term change.

I have already seen the HGH MMA induced word based badassery of martial artists (who don’t have the fight experience of your average cop) writing article after article about this apparent national phenomenon. I have seen some good articles, and some bad articles, but few are addressing the root cause in the martial art community for why people have left martial art and moved to sport based training.

The realism has left martial art.

You being a badass teacher won’t keep anyone safe – you aren’t fighting for them.
Words on internet postings won’t keep anyone safe – no one dies by USB or papercut.
Your fight 20 years ago isn’t the thug of today – who can predict the knock out game thug?

The marketing of fear kept up to sell product, but the adaptation to the street has died in so many places.

As my former mentor and friend Avery Mitchell once told me, ‘Matt, the streets don’t wait on you. You either learn before it comes, or it teaches you the lesson.’

The knock out game offers the MA community two options:

1) Adapt what we teach 75% of the time to the reality of the crime around us;
2) Allow society to continue to pass us as we do not adapt and teach the same old thing to the same old students because it’s safe money

What is more important – a belt, a sport fight – or going home safe?

When did martial art sneak up on itself with unrealism and knock out the perception people had of a blackbelt in the 70’s and 80’s – as someone to learn self-defense from?

In the CLM we discuss that 75% of the time we should stay on the task of martial art – realistically defending against attack and stress inoculating our students. 25% should be unrelated to this and give people the wonder of the magic of martial art. I don’t care if you do Kung Fu or Tae Bo, teach people 75% of the time how to defend themselves in the real world with what they have learned from you. A belt means nothing to someone who has a concussion and a damaged psyche who lives in fear.

As we say in Pramek, ‘weaponize it.’ Rolls should be taught to defensive positions. Humans touch their faces an average of 16 times per minute – are you weaponizing this touch? Do your students know how to talk with their hands to protect themselves? Do they know how to use that awesome strike or kick against a real aggressor, not just a belt test? Have you stressed tested them verbally?  Think of your students first, and make your belt lesson plans about realism. Talk to your local police, find out the crime around you as we discuss in other posts and train your student accordingly to what they will face. If you can’t legally own a gun in your country but you’re teaching pistol defense – I’ll buy your blue gun and you need to teach what is realistic for where you live.

And teach it forever – keep teaching it, keep on it, demonstrate the standard they should uphold in their own personal defense. Never let up.

In the end, the knock out game will fad out for whatever is next. Situational awareness comes from knowing it’s happening and being smart – most will find this out and do it.

Whether they pay you to teach them to do it, and what to do if they don’t, or they learn it on their own depends on one thing….the long term product you have to sell them.

It’s why we teach like this:

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