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"Ideally, your self-defense will never get physical. Avoiding the situation and running or talking you way out - either of these is a higher order of strategy than winning a physical battle." - Wise Words of Rory Miller, Facing Violence: Chapter 7: after, subparagraph 7.1:medical

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What are "night-fighting" techniques?

Recently a post discussed "night-fighting" aspects to the kata "Kusanku." I just had to wonder to the question, "what are night-fighting techniques?" Is there such a thing as night-fighting techniques?

Just because a technique is performed a certain way is not indicative that it is night-fighting. One that comes to mind, which I was also told is a night-fighting technique, when performed tells me a lot more as to its possible purpose other than night fighting. I can extrapolate it to mean "ducking" things like weapons attacks or even high kicks both in daylight or at night - regardless.

So, I ask the question, "Is there or are there night-fighting specific bunkai to this kata?" Is it possible that someone decided that because it was given an explanation as to "night time" that it and the kata are a night-fighting oriented kata?

Let me go a bit further, why would anyone designate any kata to be specific to just "one" strategy, tactic or bunkai? Why would anyone "limit" the possibilities of any kata? This seems to me a form of "limitation" which to my view "limits" a person's ability to very specific things, isn't this a bit "limiting?"

I will admit that Joe Swift's assessment is valid, " ... such interpretations were contrived to fit movements that are not very well understood. ..." I would agree that American's who returned after such a short period of instruction tend to "fill-in" in lieu of just stating, "I don't know," is a plausible validation to this statement.

May explanations to this "night-fighting" premise is always related to viewing the night or vision. In a nutshell night means vision is either limited or non-existent. Relying on say "moon light" to guide you also seems "limiting." To my mind it would be more inclusive to provide other sensory revelations such as "tactile," or "feeling." The sense of touch in many cases can be far more effective in night fights then always assuming some sort of visual enhancements are required.

I would also add in that the sense of "smell" also contributes more to this aspect, a small one, to handing night attacks. Let's not forget that "avoidance" is also another night fighting strategy, lets remove the particular of specific waza which is limiting, where one does not travel where one does not have adequate lighting to see as well as to avoid environments where the need to fight at night is prevalent. This comes back on to limiting our methods, i.e. strategies and tactics, because we "label" something into a rut, a hole and pidgin hole that few think to "think outside of, like a box."

Exaggerated movements is counter productive to the fundamental principles of martial systems, economic motion for greater conservation of energy, etc., which does not compute for night fighting, i.e. protection against a wider range of attacks .... how is this night-fighting for it makes no sense. We are seemingly making assumptions that are not readily present in this explanation so I would say this needs further investigation. It does not make sense to me.

I sense some explanations are geared toward a mindset that one is standing against a night attacker at a sparring distance which is also not conducive to fighting with the sense of sight limited or nonexistent. If one is attacked in the dark the best strategy is to use feel or tactile touch, i.e. move in close to feel the attacker's body and then use feel to unbalance, control and defeat.

Another one to consider is the explanation of reading silhouettes which relies heavily on sight which is also fooled by many factors and then exacerbated by darkness. In a nutshell most night-fighting explanations are predicated on the ability to use "sight" where  I tend to think it is a matter of close in, feel and conquer which can be in any kata without limitations placed on applications.

I cannot see any proof in any of kusanku waza that say they are or are not night fighting techniques. I can see how to extrapolate possible strategies and tactics from various bunkai interpretations but would not name or label them night-fighting techniques. My assessment which could continue in this analysis is that kusanku is not a night fighting kata per say but rather one of many kata that can be used to determine appropriate strategies and tactics to avoid and defend if attacked at night. Any of the kata can achieve the same results.

Oh, and using sound to misdirect. Sound at night is not easily determined as to directions as sound travels differently at night and according to acoustics of the environment. I would not rely on sound for much but rather touch. When an attack touches me the instinct would be to close in and use my grappling abilities, etc. to remove the threat but then again to avoid being attacked at night prevails over any possible night-fighting technique you extrapolate from any and all kata - not just kusanku.

So, back to the question, "What are night-fighting techniques?" The question is better stated as, "What are the night-fighting strategies?"

One, know that the only effective strategy at night is to move in close, so close you can smell the garlic on the attackers breath.
Two, know that touch is the dominant sense used to remove the threat.
Three, smell can tell you just what your up against when you move in close.
Four, the best strategy against night-fighting is to avoid it all together but always remain prepared for it in as close to reality-based training you can get.

This is all off the cuff so to speak. It would be interesting to hear other views and suggestions. I doubt seriously many spend much time thinking of what it would take to actually fend off an attacker in a very dark place. Some other considerations I can think of are:

1. An attacker is not going to do so unless he or she has all the advantages.
2. An attacker is not going to attack you with a full moon to shine down on the arena but rather attack where the darkness provides him or her the complete advantage.
3. The attacker is in all likelihood going to know the arena of the night attack far better than you will so your at another disadvantage.
4. If you walk into an arena that is dark and triggers your awareness and spidey sense then what the fuck are you doing there to begin with.
5. If your surprised in a dark arena then your not paying attention, your probably listening to music or playing a iPhone game so you are going to be easy.
6. If you willingly go into a dark and dangerous arena, unless your a professional whose job it is to go into harms way, then your ego or monkey brain along with pride and a lot of testerone are driving the bus and who gives a shit, your just being stupid.
7. If you are a martial artist or a professional and have not considered night-fighting in your training/practice then you might want to reconsider your training syllabus.
9. Once again, avoidance is the absolute best strategy because if the attacker is a predator you can be guaranteed that the night is going to be only the beginning advantage for him, disadvantage for you, and your toast because you allowed yourself to enter that arena.

Again, would love to hear more input on this aspect to defensive/protective training. Night-fighting is the Yang of the Yin most train in, i.e. daylight, well lit dojo, smooth and comfortable dojo wood floors, willing participants, dojo mates, etc. ;-)

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