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Friday, February 21, 2014

Untenable Positions

Note: I published this blog a few days ago, when I really should have hit "save as draft". These are the perils of blogging during a toddler's nap. Neil asked some good questions that made me realize I hadn't presented my ideas clearly. Hopefully, the revision will be a bit clearer.

Did a very small PDR seminar at North Shore Muay Thai Academy last weekend. My usual intro seminar, but we got to take some tangents because of the small size (one of the fun things about little groups is that you don't need to adhere to a curriculum as tightly).

One of the women in the class brought up this question:

I'm wrestling with my husband last night, and he pinned me on the ground. There was no way for me to move, or do anything. I just don't see how I could stop him at that point.

There are to major points I want to make with this.

It's important to evaluate your tactics, but it's also important to evaluate how you evaluate your tactics.

Playfully wrestling with your spouse/significant other is not the same, either emotionally or tactically, as wrestling with a violent criminal. (I think Rory Miller has written about this, but I cannot remember where.)

Emotionally--the experience of wrestling with your SO is play. It's fun, and the kind of fun that usually has some flirtation attached. The consequences of losing this match are not particularly dire. That's very, very different from fighting with someone who intends to rape or kill you.

[Aside: Yes, I realize that there are scenarios where the SO IS the person who intends to rape or kill you, and that is a huge emotional challenge to overcome. I hope it's clear that I'm not talking about that kind of wrestling with your SO here.]

Tactically--there are a lot of tactics that are off the table when wrestling with your SO. Presumably, you aren't going to use a weapon (improvised or otherwise) on them. You're not going stick a finger in their eye, or elbow them in the throat. I realize none of these things are an ultimate panacea against being taking to the ground, but they clearly change the fight game.

People occasionally come up with positions that appear to be no-win scenarios for one person, but they turn out to be largely untenable for both parties if you actually explore them.

In this particular example: the position the woman described was essentially what BJJ players call high mount, but where the mounter leaning over and holding both the mountees wrists (I couldn't find a picture of this exact position, but I've included one of the high mount below). It turns out to be a strong position for holding someone down...but that's about it.

Kind of like this, but imagine the guy on top holding the bottom guy's wrists. (from

Seriously, play with this for a couple of minutes. For the person on top to do anything, they have to move. If they want to strike you or choke you, they have to release your arms. If they want to get between your legs, they have to move backwards (and release an arm). If all they want to do is hold you down, then yes, they seem to have a pretty strong position, but they really don't have a lot of options either.

In other words, the exact position is totally untenable. Unless the goal is "pin your SO down and make fun of them", neither person can advance toward their goals. Someone has to give something up, and it's probably got to be the guy on top.

That doesn't mean position doesn't matter, and it certainly doesn't mean that being mounted is a good place to be.

But that particular variation of that position doesn't let the bad guy DO anything.

Again, I think Rory has written somewhere about asking the question "what happens if I do nothing from this position?". Here, the answer turned to be that the bad guy has to make the next move. His movement potentially creates opportunity to escape.

[Aside #2: No, I'm not suggesting that escaping from mount is easy, or that it's a great place to be. But if the bad guy is moving, there's opportunity.]

Neil also brought up the question of dealing with multiple assailants from there. I haven't played with that, but I have a suspicion that the second assailant might have a hard time getting involved. I need to play with it to say with greater certainty. I should do this, and film it.

A third thought from this: if your SO is learning how to defend themselves, don't take it upon yourself to show them how you could kick their ass. They aren't fighting you as hard as they can, and all you're doing is dis-empowering someone. You're being a bully. Knock that shit off.

Hopefully, that's a bit clearer.


Neil Bednar said...

Thanks Jake. To your point, I'd be interested to see what the percentage is on MMA fighters getting out of a mount (once mounted) if they hadn't been knocked down with a punch first- I'll bet it's relatively high. At least in part due to the fact that the guy mounting is moving around trying to hit the bottom guy much of the time.

Jake said...

I'd be interested to see that as well, but I don't know that anyone keeps statistics on this sort of thing.