How many street fights have you been in? How many times have you had to defend yourself? How many street fights have you witnessed personally?

Most people won’t have much in the way of concrete experiences as it relates to these questions. The truth is, if you keep your head down, mind your own business, the chances of interpersonal violence jumping out at you is slim at best. This lack of knowing however, allows our heads to be filled with what Hollywood says fights will look like, or simply taking the word of self defense experts.

Ironically, there are in fact, tons of examples of real world fights only a click away. Like it or not, YouTube offers up myriad’s of examples of real world, in the flesh fights. While we can discuss the psychological composition of people who think it’s entertaining to put these fights up on YouTube – the fact remains – they are there and readily available for anyone to watch.

Yet the paradox is, that on that very same video platform one can watch self defense instructional videos that have zero resemblance to the actual fights often displayed in the same playlist stream. I am certain there is a sense that those street fights on YouTube are examples of ‘untrained’ people – and if they were trained, it would look more like what those self-defense experts claim it to be.

Cookie Cutter Wins The Day

As human beings, we will take cookie cutter explanations before we will take a chaotic answer. We tend to focus in on clear defined sequence of events to deal with a particular situation, rather than having to bathe in the unfamiliar, unpredictable nature of chaos. As such, when it comes to learning how to defend ourselves we are our very own worst enemy. By our very nature, we invariably gravitate to answers and expressions of self-defense that are packaged neatly, have clear cut step-by-step answers, with tacticool names. However without even knowing, we are setting ourselves up to be devoured by the reality of violence.

Throw 90% Away

The truth is, as is glaringly obvious just watching real fights on YouTube, that 90% of everything taught in all styles, regardless of how many people follow those styles, or say it works, would need to be thrown out. Said another way, if you have trained to defend yourself, and then find yourself in the immediacy of a fight, less than 10% of what you ever learned will work. When that 10% comes out, it will never imbue those clean lines, with precision, power, timing and perfect distancing as it did in training.

So when I am asked why I spend so much of my time teaching my students street boxing, and why Crazy Monkey doesn’t have this or that? My answer is always the same, “Of course we do, but we work first on probabilities, not on possibilities.” The truth is, you can go watch 100 street fights on YouTube in a row, and if you are astute, you will come out with the very same answers I have. While on occasion other techniques come out (as they say there is always an exception to the rule) but in reality the rule is what matter most.

Watch those fights and what you will see for almost all of them is a crude form of boxing as primacy (and if it goes to the ground, a crude form of jiu-jitsu). There’s always one person trying to break in, get past the other persons attack who is trying to hit them. Most are unsuccessful at ‘breaking in’ and when they do it happens because they got overwhelmed by the other person’s aggressive intent. Its also very clear that if someone doesn’t have any kind of defense, that this is likely going to be their downfall, and will cause them often to lose. There’s a lot of clinch too, often happening by accident in the throws of two people punching each other until they land on top of each other in the clinch.

With this in mind, most fights follow a similar projection:

  • Boxing as primary.
  • Clinch to hit out of. You still see a lot of punching going on here. At times there are occasional elbows, knees and head butts — but never as much as the self defense experts claim there will be. Hitting a moving, aggressive, uncooperative opponent, while dealing with your own fear, hormonal changes, adrenaline etc isn’t that easy as it may seem.
  • Sometimes there’s a kick in a fight, but it often isn’t pretty and its low. When you do see them, its because someone is trying to stomp another person on the ground.
  • Most people lose a fight because they have no active defense and get hurt or knocked out.
    Often in fights, people centralize their focus on the immediate threat, forgetting there may be other threats nearby. In the end, they get clocked from behind, which kicks off even more chaos, that they are unable to deal with.
  • Almost never does someone lose a fight because they got kicked in the groin, eye pocked, or face palmed to the bridge of the nose. In fact, you almost never see these strikes, simply because, just like our primate cousins we default to closing our hands when fighting another of our kind. Many will disagree with me, but I believe we are hardwired to close our fists in fights. All those fights on YouTube pretty much bares this out.
  • Of course there is always an exception to the rule, but it always makes far more sense to train for the rule first.

It Ain’t About Looking Good, It’s About What Works

When I created Crazy Monkey Defense (and still continue to do so) I built of my own personal experience on the street. Initially as I engaged in interpersonal violence I thought I was doing something wrong, or I hadn’t trained enough. Nothing I was taught on the Dojo floor worked very well. If it did come out, it resembled very little in the way in which it had been trained. As time went on, I began chucking almost everything I had ever learned away. When I was done, I didn’t have much left in my toolbox. I began redeveloping my tools, this time, not based on what self-proclaimed experts said would work, but rather on real world experiences. In the several years I bounced, and as the head doorman, I engaged in no less than 300 street fights. It not only changed my martial game, but changed how I would look at training for a fight forever.

So when people ask me, “Why doesn’t CMD have this or that?” or “why do we focus so much on boxing?” These are questions asked by people who know zero about street fighting. When I look at the Crazy Monkey curriculum, I feel confident, satisfied, and know that I am giving my students the best possible fighting chance in a real fight. I know I would likely sell more videos, more courses if I went down the Rabbit hole of choreographed self defense sequences that make my audience go Wow. But Wow doesn’t win fights.