Folks, one of the big things that tend to grind a traditional martial artist’s gears is how fight are portrayed on television and in movies. And don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of a good action flic and I’ve enjoyed the cheesiest of them (Van Damme’s drunken dance scene in “Kickboxer” comes to mind). But one needs to understand the realities of how fights actually go and how they can and can’t happen.
The first biggest problem is the David and Goliath concept. Most people love this kind of a scenario because it pits a small underdog against a much larger and formidable opponent. Nothing feels better than seeing the little guy who spent the whole first half of the movie getting bullied and pushed around, kick the ever-loving shit out of the goon who started it all. But let’s examine some basic physics for a moment, shall we?
There’s a lot to be said for skill and training. In fact, consistent and progressive self-defence training will assuredly ALWAYS improve one’s chances of defending oneself and getting out of a sticky situation. But the important takeaway is that actual fight situations are just that; a means to an end, that end being to get out and get away before you or someone else becomes seriously injured. The concept of two persons squaring off in some lame attempt at righteous indignation, defending someone’s honour or finding vengeance for someone else doesn’t happen. This is only movie magic.
The next problem is when we see a smaller opponent dominating a larger one. Although I mentioned that there’s a lot to be said for training, one needs to understand that a 95-pound person likely won’t fare well against a 200-pound opponent once they get their hands on them, training or not. It’s simple physics and the reason why most combat sports Ike boxing, wrestling and MMA have weight classes. Even though I believe the smaller fighter would likely get some good shots in, the heavier opponent just has to bare down on them with their total weight and it’s lights out. For the most part.
Another issue on the docket is how we always see dragged out fights that last up to half an hour, all while both sides are delivering strikes to sensitive areas that would likely seriously injure or kill a real person. My favourite is a snap kick to the face where you see the mouth flop over in slow motion while saliva or blood flies out. Classic. But I digress… Even if a person managed to stay conscious through some of those severe strikes to the head or managed to remain standing after those devastating blows to the body, they wouldn’t be able to brush off the second or third, meaning the fight would depend on who’s lucky enough to land those critical strikes in the first minutes. This is certainly where training has its benefits.
I’m actually a perfect example of that last paragraph, having taken a single strike to the rib cage that basically had me off my feet for well over a month. It wasn’t even my opponent’s full strength, but it’s placement and technique were enough to cause damage. Interestingly enough, my opponent was larger than me and as I’ve often brought up before, mass times acceleration is what creates Force, so the greater the mass, combined with reasonable acceleration is all that’s needed. A smaller opponent would have less mass, leading to less Force. There. Now, you can pass high school physics. you’re welcome.
Again, I absolutely love a good underdog movie… After all, that’s the whole point of television; to escape reality and garner some enjoyment at the same time. If things get too real on a show I’m watching, I get bored. I can find reality anywhere. Except in the minds of. Non-martial artists who think that fights actually happen the way they’re portrayed, apparently. And THAT’s the problem. ☯️