Should your martial arts instructor have some kind of combat experience? I would say yes. People practice martial arts for many reasons. Outside of self defense, there is fitness, stress relief, competition, culture (perhaps of a specific country), and others. With self defense being the main purpose of martial arts, your instructor should fight experience. What kind of fight experience? Well they should be able to apply there martial art to a non-compliant, resisting opponent in a stressful situation. They don' have grow in the streets or have defended the country in war. But, they should have some kind of experience that you can find out about to determine if they can teach you how to fight more than you already can. They don't have to be a champion fighter, but they should have more than a few fights. I can't say that I've ever learned a lot from somebody who had less experience than I did. Perhaps you can learn some exercises or drills, but when it comes down to what will work in a fight, always go with experience.
Here's couple of examples of one against many in a confrontation. The key things you will see will be footwork and and emphasis on hands. Check 'em out.
Kung Master against 3 attackers
Boxer against 4 attackers
Boxers against 2
In looking at the art and sport of Muay Thai in Atlanta. The earliest fighters that I know of who were competing international in Atlanta were Tony Reed and Larry McFadden. Both these guys would fight in kickboxing (above the waist rules), international kickboxing (with low kicks) and Muay Thai (with clinching, knees and elbows). I met both of these guys in the late 80s and the famous Asa's Gym in Atlanta. Asa's gym was the place to train if you kick boxed. My first experience sparring with low kicks was with Tony and some guys at Dennis Palmer's gym. Dennis is a lifelong martial artist and trainer. He was also a prominent referee for kickboxing and Muay Thai. Larry fought some of the best fighters of that era (Rob Kaman, Dennis Alexio, etc.) and Tony trained and competed in Holland (the hot bed of kickboxing in Europe). I will credit these 2 fighters as the pioneers of Muay Thai In Atlanta.
In grappling you will all kinds of locks, cranks and submissions. Cool armbars and fancy leg locks. The philosophy behind joint locks is causing damage so your opponent can't use those limbs. But, I want you know to know that the best submission is a choke. You need to put them to sleep. When anger and adrenaline is flowing or if someone is on something (i.e. drugs, alcohol), their pain receptors are off. I've had students fight in MMA and Muay Thai and get their arms broken and in the 2004 Shidokan World Open, I had a heel hook applied (popping ankle and knee). We were all able to continue fighting. Keep in mind that some guys are hard to knockout and breaking their limbs while they're angry just makes them more angry. So make sure you learn some chokes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aOw22ftI1Y
This is a great video showing Lethwei fighting. It is a bare knuckle style of fighting wear the fighters only wrap their hands. Very much like Muay Thai (with head butts, standing chokes, etc. included. You have to knock the opponent out to win. No point system. Once you get past the brutality of it, you can appreciate seeing what skilled fighting looks for real. Imagine these skills on the street. It is pure and practical. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Y3K84cCoIU
In looking back at my competitive career I better see that I have had the pleasure of competing and training with some of the best. Many in martial arts will have their opinion on what art has the best punches, kicks, throws, submissions, etc. Some may compete in one combat sport and think that they've faced a good puncher or kicker (in kickboxing for example). I am lucky to have some cool and always humbling experiences. I've been punched by Olympic and world class professional boxers. I've kicked against some of the top Tae Kwon Do players (U.S. Team members). I've experienced the hand and foot combinations of several World Champion Kickboxers, I've feel the clinch of champion Muay Thai fighters, I've been thrown by top Judoka (including a couple of Olympians). I been twisted like a pretzel by a World BJJ Champion. Through competition and training I've been humbled many times and at the same time I've been truly blessed. I have trained in the martial art for 42 years and I am still learning.
When should one look for push for a finish in a fight? Do you start out throwing bombs at the very beginning. When you have have an opponent hurt or sense intense fatigue is when you pour it on to look for a finish. Keep in mind at the beginning of a match, the opponent is fresh and sharp. I'm not saying that a knockout can't happen early, but this is not common. Many times you can't knock a guy down early and they can recover and continue fighting like it never happened. It is harder to recover from punishment once the body is fatigued. So, if you hurt someone early on, be sure that you don't gas out trying to force a finish that is not there. They are trying to protect themselves and will look to run, hold, and do whatever to survive. You have to asses the situation and still pick your shots and determine it is time to finish or continue softening your opponent up.
In looking at martial arts, people ask about techniques, training etc. There is always the what if he or she does this out that. They practice defending against attacks with partners. They work out hitting pads, bags, etc. There is one key component that one has to be able to deal with. It's called pain. There is an old saying, "Everybody has a plan until the get hit". If you are not accustomed to dealing with pain, no technique, self defense semianr is really going to do much for you. You have to train, workout out, practice your techniques and learn how to deal with the uncomfortableness of getting hit. Beyond physical training this is mental. If you train your body hard, you strengthen your mind. You need impact training. Not just in hitting things, but in receiving impact. I am not saying get your brains bashed, but you have to spar. You have to hold pads and feel power coming through them (a lot of people are afraid to hold pads with hard hitting partners). All of this helps you mentally prepare for impact and pain. Go train!
Very often you will see undefeated fighters with a lot of victories and 90% of the wins by KO. Everybody likes to see that badass that nobody can beat. But if you look at the business side of fighting you will see a fighter who has a manager and promoter who matches them with opponents that will produce a stellar record. This is so they can get into bigger promotions and what not. Now, there are some guys who are that good. But, a lot of times things are exaggerated or blown out of proportion. So, when looking at a fighter's record, see who they beat and even if they lost, see who the lost from. A lot of times, fighters with not so good records are really good. They may have been mismatched early on or if they were fighting a promoter's prospect, they may have gotton the worst of the decision (and yes, judges do cheat).
Through combat sports I've had the opportunity to challenge and test my skills against some of the best martial artists around. In boxing, I fought an Olympic Bronze Medalist. Through Kickboxing and Shidokan, I have had the opportunity to fight a Muay Thai World Champions, World Champion Kickboxers, a North American Kyokushin Champion, a World Sport JuJitsu Champion, and some strong veteran MMA fighters. In Judo I have had the opportunity to get on the mat with a couple of ranked Senior Players (in my 40s). I've competed against some incredible Veteran (or Master's) Judo athletes in the IJF Veterans World Championship. I will be 50 this year and the sky is still the limit. I am able to challenge myself and still grow as a martial artist and person. So, follow you passion and never give up a dream. There will be ups and downs along the way. Being able to have the journey is what makes it fun.
World Champion Richard Trammell shares his experiences, views and thoughts on fitness, martial arts and fighting.