Fighting 101


A couple of notes about fighting (notice I did not say “notes about mixed martial arts, or notes about self defense):

 Sgt Dave Helgran
Marine Corps Martial Arts Brown Belt
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu White Belt

Thai Kickboxing White Belt
  • When in any fight, be it simulated as in training, competitive as for sport, or life and death as in combat or self defense, the best weapon you can ever use is your mind. If you are incapable of remaining calm and level headed, you are doomed to fail. I have seen personally some of the biggest and strongest guys I’ve witnessed fighting, lose to people half their size because they used nothing but brute force, and paid no attention to technique. Google Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir if you need an example. There is nothing more important than keeping a sharp mind and thinking every move through. A good fighter picks his spots and takes calculated risks. You may not win every fight, but the ones you lose you will learn from.
  • Know the difference between a fight and a training session. For those of you who paid attention and actually practice what was mentioned in the previous bullet, this part is easy. Training is to learn, not to get hurt or to hurt people. It does you no good to play the tough guy only to have your ankle broken or shoulder separated while in a training environment. It only serves to make you vulnerable to a real world attacker outside the gym. If it hurts and you can’t fight out of it, tap out. If you’re losing consciousness and can’t fight out, tap out. If you feel something pop, crack, snap, or give, tap out. If you’re not hurt, you can always rematch immediately. If you don’t tap, and you get hurt, you won’t be fighting again for much longer.
  • In order to master the techniques, you practice them in many scenarios. You cannot simply practice doing an arm bar on your buddy without resistance 10x and then think it will work in all your future fights. Just because you can guillotine your cat does not mean it will work on me or the next guy. You must drill it over and over again on multiple partners, and then attempt it again and again in multiple training bouts. Over time, you will find the moves and techniques that work the best for you. Depending on your size and body type, certain moves may be easier or harder for you to accomplish. Make the easier ones your specialty, and work to improve the difficult ones.
  • Fighting is not an exact science. Think of it more like philosophy. There are many different theories of the right way of doing the same thing. Any and all may be right, and some ways work better for certain people. Not everything you learn will be usable in every situation. This is why bullet number one is so important. Using your mind, you can adapt techniques to work in any situation. In an actual combat scenario, you would not simply say “This guy is way too big. I can’t win.” and let him kill you. You would give it everything you had, being as creative as possible and taking many risks.
  • “Once you commit, stay committed” This is something a former Marine Corps Sergeant used to preach to me. The idea is that when you’re in a situation and you’re pressing forward with all you have, you do not want to pause, back up, and give your opponent the opportunity to return fire. Keep him off balance, keep him backing up, dictate the pace and control the fight. This quote applies to a multitude of other areas of fighting as well as life in general, but for now just remember it. If you hook up with me in the gym, I’m sure you’ll hear me say it.
  • Leave your ego at the door. Let’s face it, nobody likes to lose. You can damn sure bet nobody in our gym wants to lose. But it happens to everyone. Some more than others. When I first started training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu I lost every bout I fought for over a month. Keep in mind also that I was already a Marine Corps Martial Arts Brown Belt at this time. Everyone will be humbled at times, and it is a learning experience. Remember bullet number two, and don’t get carried away. If you get tapped, try and understand why and what you can do better next time. The mat is no place to get cocky.
  • Enjoy the training and the camraderie. Fight training, though intense, is extremely fun. Your hardest opponents on the mat become your best friends in life. If you aren’t having a good time training, you’re doing something wrong. If you have to get “psyched up” or “pissed off” before every training session, you probably need to review bullet number two. The training should be intense, but always enjoyable. We are working hard here (in training) so when it gets hard there (in combat) we’ll be ready and able. “Sweat more in peacetime so you can bleed less in war.”



“The difference between combat and sport is that in combat you
bury the guy who comes in second.”

-Unidentified Navy SEAL on the Discovery Chanaasdasdasnel’s “U.S. Navy SEALs II” 1999


“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog!”
-Mark Twain

“When the mind fails to overcome, the body MUST be punished!”
-I’m not sure who said it, but tell me and you get a cookie.


Members may access our demonstration library and private fight blog below.

Questions will be addressed here martial-arts-self-defense-trainer, our WOD blog, or here… Fighting 101