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"One thing has always been true: That book ... or ... that person who can give me an idea or a new slant on an old idea is my friend." - Louis L'Amour

"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

"Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider..." - Francis Bacon

Warning, Caveat and Note: The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books.

Note: I will endevor to provide a bibliography and italicize any direct quotes from the materials I use for this blog. If there are mistakes, errors, and/or omissions, I take full responsibility for them as they are mine and mine alone. If you find any mistakes, errors, and/or omissions please comment and let me know along with the correct information and/or sources.

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Is free style sparring of value in martial arts? In fight training? In Self-defense training?

Jiyu-kumite or free style sparring. The question has been asked, “Is it important to practice or is it not needed?” Sparring in all forms, i.e. one-step, three-step, partner drills, etc., have their function. The focus of that function is the true question here. 

First, martial arts are about the application of fundamental principles for sport, fighting, combat and most important of all, self-defense in modern society. We can go round and round about its historical significance along with its connection to either classical or traditional practices but truth be told there is not enough historical fact to support any of that. 

Second, the form of sparring we see today did not exist prior early 1900’s, i.e., at least as far as can be determined with the scarce data on that subject. 

Third, even as a more modern creation, if that is so, it still holds value especially with the principles as described above. It provides a slow, safe training model that can teach and encode the principles into the mind-state of a practitioner. In that, it is a lot like kata practice. Kata practice being one of those two person type training tools where its historical connections are also in doubt depending on who you talk to or what source you study.

If a practitioner, at the novice and student levels, i.e., the kyu grade levels and the sho-dan to san-dan levels, does sparring in all forms with the mind distinction to learn and apply principles, especially those physiokinetic sub-principles such as structure, spinal alignment, and the centerline, etc., then they will find them more accessible in a stress adrenal type circumstances provided other training of an appropriate nature has been completed.

It comes down to distinctions such as what is applicable to actual fighting in defense vs. sport competitions and so on. This usually falls down and then once a practitioner reaches their limits as a novice and student whereby they fail to graduate and seek the appropriate reality based training in that higher level of practice. Most of today’s martial arts are stuck at those novice and student levels. 

In reality the sparring sessions should incorporate several things to achieve a goal of self-defense. First, train with the adrenal flood. Not an easy thing to do with safety concerns, etc. Second, make all sparring sessions to meet the following criteria of an attack, i.e., it must be a surprise, it must deal with pain and fear and more often than not be fast, hard, very close and by surprise. Way to many SD courses rely heavily on the sport oriented competitive type contests where distance and other such sport concepts rule. 

Then there is the primo training requirement for reality based self-defense, i.e., the training of the mind-set/mind-state. You can train in several models but the mind-set must differentiate and the core training of the mind to deal with violent attacks must be paramount. The distinction is like writing in long hand block letters vs. switching to cursive writing forms. You know the difference and you can readily switch back and forth as circumstances dictate but with only one missing component, the adrenal flood effects. 

This is the same argument martial artists have been having since day one, i.e., are kata worth the effort, are they applicable to fighting, combat and/or defense? In the final answer they all are of value, they all serve a purpose - provided - you make the distinctions and train/practice accordingly. 

Primary Bibliography of Self-Defense:
MacYoung, Marc. "In the Name of Self-Defense: What It Costs. When It’s Worth It." Marc MacYoung. 2014.
Miller, Rory Sgt. "Meditations of Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence" YMAA Publishing. 2008.

Secondary Bibliography of Self-Defense:
Ayoob, Massad. “Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self-Defense”Gun Digest Books. Krouse Publications. Wisconsin. 2014.
Goleman, Daniel. "Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition [Kindle Edition]." Bantam. January 11, 2012.
Miller, Rory. "ConCom: Conflict Communications A New Paradigm in Conscious Communication." Amazon Digital Services, Inc. 2014. 
Miller, Rory and Kane, Lawrence A. "Scaling Force: Dynamic Decision-making under Threat of Violence." YMAA Publisher. New Hampshire. 2012
Miller, Rory. "Force Decisions: A Citizen's Guide." YMAA Publications. NH. 2012.
Miller, Rory Sgt. "Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected." YMAA Publishing. 2011.
Elgin, Suzette Haden, Ph.D. "More on the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense." Prentice Hall. New Jersey. 1983.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Last Word on the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" Barnes & Noble. 1995
Morris, Desmond. “Manwatching: A Field Guide to Human Behavior.” Harry N. Abrams. April 1979.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" Barnes & Noble. 1993.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Gentle Art of Written Self-Defense" MJF Books. 1997.
Maffetone, Philip Dr. “The Maffetone Method: The Holistic, Low-stress, No-Pain Way to Exceptional Fitness.” McGraw Hill, New York. 2000
Strong, Sanford. “Strong on Defense_ Survival Rules to Protect you and your Family from Crime.” Pocket Books. New York. 1996.
and more … see blog bibliography.

My Blog Bibliography

Cornered Cat (Scratching Post): http://www.corneredcat.com/scratching-post/
Kodokan Boston: http://kodokanboston.org
Mario McKenna (Kowakan): http://www.kowakan.com
Wim Demeere’s Blog: http://www.wimsblog.com

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