Let us make no mistake; our goal in the martial arts is to attain victory. But what is victory, and will we know when we attain it? If we didn’t define it, how could we know?
Of all the areas of combative training, the sporting arena is the one in which victory is easiest to define, especially in the more old-fashioned and raw Vale Tudo style competitions in which time limits were longer or non-existent. Victory in such a setting is simple: Incapacitate your opponent, (be it by knockout or other severe injury) or force him to quit.
These days, Mixed Martial Arts is now far more like other sports, and has moved away from its Vale Tudo roots. Shorter time limits mean that more matches go to a judges’ decision, and so victory can depend on the subjective opinions of three onlookers… Having said that, win the judges over by whatever means, and victory can be yours. It’s still easy to define victory, even if it’s a little harder to attain it.
However, move outside the sport setting, and victory becomes a cornucopia of disparate possibilites. In self-defence, is victory not simply surviving, or surviving uninjured? If one is mugged, isn’t victory really defined by escaping injury, even if you had to give up your wallet in order to attain this?
Or if you are with your partner or even your child when a violent situation erupts, isn’t victory defined as ensuring THEIR safety, even perhaps at the cost of your own health… or even your life?
These questions are important to ask, especially when one is exposed to a vast marketplace of self-defence instructors, many of whom claim to be able to teach you secret techniques that will not only allow you to escape injury, but also to beat the hapless mugger who has accosted you nearly to death.
Even if you obtained it, this outcome would not be victory. In fact it would probably mean a prison sentence.
No, in the real world victory in combat must be defined as: the minimisation of injury, he minimisation of risk of reprisals and risk of criminal or civil charges, and last and very much least; minimisation of loss of property.
And is this not also the goal of one’s whole life? Isn’t life itself a damage-limitation exercise? After all, we all lose our own personal fight in the end. Death is the only inevitability in life. We fight a long defeat, and try to make the best out of our situation. This is also the way we should view real-world combat, without succumbing to childish fantasies about being an untouchable uber-martial artist.
Another defining characteristic of victory would have to be that one must decide what victory is for oneself, before one plays the relevant game. In other words, gambling and winning one pound is technically a victory, and one may convince oneself that it is a victory after the fact, but if one rolled the dice expecting to win a hundred pounds then winning a pound is a very poor substitute for victory indeed. This mindset is common, even among successful people… and it’s pure delusion at it’s core.
Don’t get me wrong, one should be kind to oneself… one should be positive. But one shouldn’t lie to oneself.
This is why setting manageable goals before entering a situation and being satisfied with any positive result is such an important psychological factor in being victorious both in combat and in life. View all situations you find yourself in as tests, estimate what the average outcome would be for the average person… and if you come out of the situation with a better result, count it as a victory, and celebrate accordingly.