Without Writing

The art of writing without writing… about fighting.

The Fantastical Straw Men of the Charlatans

The “self-defence” applications shown in the two clips below have several points in common.

In the first clip, the Kenpo instructor “defends” himself against a tackle so bad, so mechanically inefficient, so unnatural for any human animal with the conventional body structure and regular number of limbs, that it’s a fair bet that nobody in the world has ever performed anything like it during combat, ever. The instructor refers to this as an MMA style takedown. He’s lying, unless he’s referring to a special brand of MMA for those with serious kyphosis. Furthermore, the attacker is so compliant and so uncommitted that no defence would be necessary against him, anyway. A sneer, or some mildly insulting language would suffice.

In the second clip, John Cleese defends himself against an equally uncommitted attacker wielding a similarly unlikely weapon: A piece of fruit.

Kenpo Set Karate — Charging Bull

Monty Python – Self-Defense Against Fruit

The similarity is that in both cases, the attacker’s attitude and his weapon of choice are pure fantasy. Real-world aggressors will not attack with impractical weapons, and they will not attack slowly and carefully. But there the similarity ends, because John Cleese’s method of defence is far far more effective and actually slightly more practical than the Kenpo instructor’s.

Let’s apply a bit of common sense to the Kenpo clip. If a defender were to adopt this “defence”, and were to try to deliver an incredibly weak kick to the pelvic region of an opponent shooting for their legs, they would most likely miss their target or be smothered by the rapidly closing range. But even if they made contact, the momentum of the attacker would still probably knock the defender onto his or her derriere, without significant damage to the attacker. Thus the attacker would have succeeded in his or her attempt to take the fight to the ground.

Here’s a defence against a freestyle wrestling takedown that actually works, and has been filmed working in countless recorded fights:

Human Weapon – MMA – The Sprawl

And here’s another defence against a wrestling shot: Don’t get into a fight with someone sporting cauliflower ears.


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