“At the beginning of any battle, there are no choices but these three initiatives. Since it is a matter of gaining victory quickly by preemption, therefore preemption is the foremost concern in martial arts….preemption from a state of waiting, preemption form a state of mutual confrontation, and preemption from a state of suspension.”
Miyamoto Musashi, The Fire Scroll, The Book of Five Rings
“[On the intimidating effect of aggressive posturing, when someone really gets in your face…the guys screams…]I don’t give a f*** that you’re a black belt. I’m gonna come round your house when you’re having tea with your Mum and I’m going to bite your nose off and spit it down you f***** throat!…That terror of this guy not caring…that immediate confrontation of (his) posturing, it triggers the flight instinct in us. That flight instinct is so powerful that I’ve watched legends run away from fights…We prepared people by dealing with the most difficult thing, which was posturing…the reality of close range…maybe you’ve got 18 inches…preemption is the only constant. It’s the only thing that works all the time….Just to hit first. Hit first and use artifice. Even Musashi only had three preemptions…hit them before they think of hitting you, hit them as they think of hitting you, hit them when they twitch.”
I think anyone who wants to be prepared for a street fight needs to read and listen to Geoff Thompson. No one doubts his credentials as a man who not only survived but dominated hundreds of fights, including arranged no-rules bare knuckle matches, life and death street fights, and many “bum rush” incidents in his job as a bouncer in Coventry. He also has top notch credentials as a classically-trained martial artist (he’s an ABA Boxing Instructor, a Greco-Roman wrestling coach, holds a 1st Dan in Judo, and an 8th Dan in Shotokan Karate).
I’ve written about him before and I expect I will again!
I especially admire his arc from extremely violent man (driven, from his own admission, by fear) through his career as a bouncer, then on to being a internationally-known martial arts instructor. He is particularly known for his application of street realism in his training, such as his infamous Animal Days. And recently, he has reinvented himself again as an advocate for non-violence! I appreciate his very honest self-analysis and his discussions of the roots of violence in our psychology.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”
But meanwhile, Thompson is also a first-rate source for those of us who are into fight training but don’t have the hard-won street experience. The best way to learn hard lessons is to let other people learn them for you! Its true that experience is irreplaceable, but listening to experienced and wise people is the next best thing, and a lot easier on your dental work.
“The thing you can do in a real fight is go to the floor…even strangers come round and…I’ve seem people literally jump on other people’s heads. They’re not even involved…if you’re in the mount, people just assume you’re the bully and you get your jaw broke or you get hoofed in the head…or you get stabbed. I’ve seen loads of people get stabbed by the girlfriends…the mothers.”
His best books (in my opinion) to help you benefit from his street experience: Three Second Fighter: The Sniper Option, Animal Day – Pressure Testing the Martial Arts, and the classic (and worth its weight in gold) The Fence.
The great thing is that his ideas, dragged straight from violent altercations with the worst and most dangerous and unpredictable people you can imagine, are in perfect agreement with the fundamental principles we find in the Wing Chun Keun Kuit, the ideas which make up our system.
Be quick to end the fight.
Make the first move to have control. Attack according to timing.
A strong attitude and posture gives an advantage over your opponent.
To win in an instant is a superior achievement.
Our system was developed by experienced fighters like Thompson, who developed a system that works best in the conditions Thompson describes. Very close. Hands up. Explosive attacks. This is why we train reflexes, because many fights are over before your conscious brain even knows what happened.