Shinja Martial Arts University







Street Reality and Octagon Fallacy

By: John C. Enger
10th Dan Shinja Buke Ryu Kenpo

As a former law enforcement officer with extensive street experience answering calls to numerous bar fights, street fights and domestic altercations with serious injuries spanning over three decades in the American Criminal Justice System (including Corrections, Private Investigations and Security), I can reassure the reader that what is being labeled as “Cage Matches”, “Octagon Fights”, “Tough Man/Woman” contests and marketed as Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) are nothing more than a “controlled” or “refereed” common street or bar fight.

Some may call it “Sport” – by definition I suppose one can call it that: “Physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively”. But, do we want our youth engaged in this kind of sport? Should we as adults, who have children that are interested in the martial arts get them involved in this type of violent and aggressive “sport”?

There are many angles from which one can take to show just how violent cage matches are, even with its so called refereed or controlled “system” in place. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that serious injuries are taking place. It may be by definition a “sport” – a ‘blood sport.” These fights draw large crowds and excitement generated from the violence and blood. People want to see people injured and bleeding – excitement!

There are people who go to bars just to fight! Not only just fight, but to seriously injure their opponent. And, there are people who go to bars just to be able to “watch the show” – fights included! I submit that it has some serious similarities to our cage match mentality (participants and viewers alike!).

You don’t think that there are street fights that go on after these major events – let me assure you they do! I have responded to street brawls with people seriously injured in these fights that were transported to trauma centers and placed in intensive care units. Common sense should tell us that there is something inherently wrong with what’s taking place here.

In the bar, on the street or at home, knives, guns, bottles and every other conceivable weapon of someone’s choice is being used to inflict great bodily harm or death upon some unsuspecting victim.

These cage matches may prove who’s the tough man or woman for the day. There are serious cuts, broken bones, serious bruises and torn ligaments – all under the banner of what is called “Mixed Martial Arts” – it is a poor example of what martial arts is and was intended to ever be. But when it comes to the street or bar they will find the “anything goes” mentality of their opponents to be superior to their false sense of security of the octagon where no guns, knives, baseball bats are deployed – these “bad boys” and “bad girls” will not play by the “Rules” of the “Octagon”.

There will be no referee called Big John McCarthy to stop the fists raining down on your skull until your brain hemorrhages. The only medical person on scene will be often times far after the event when the paramedics are attempting to insert an airway to help you breath after being choked and purposely crushing your larynx. It may be that the only medical personnel to arrive will be the medical examiner who will pick up pieces of your skull that has been splattered all over the street after being struck multiple times with a baseball bat or to place your eviscerated intestines back into your stomach cavity from a knife wound in the county morgue. I have personally witnessed these things many times.

The men and women involved in these cage matches are not practicing self-defense techniques. Although self-defense techniques are not necessarily martial arts in and of itself, there are styles of martial arts that have developed into true “Mixed Martial Art” systems employing combat style defensive tactics and martial arts defense techniques.

The rapid movement away from the “Traditional Style” of martial arts to what has now become known as the “Combat Style” has ruffled some feathers in traditional circles. I’m not at all surprised and it is to be entirely expected. When one’s beliefs in a system that they have studied for decades in some cases are challenged, especially when a new system claims they are based on scientifically proven concepts in body mechanics and fighting psychology as well as exposing serious self defense flaws, the normal response is to challenge the “new approach.” What many of the traditional martial arts colleagues fail to see, or refuse to see perhaps, is that their particular art is not at all being questioned as an “art.”

What is being challenged, and in a healthy manner, is the value of protecting its practitioners in a street combat situation, many of which believe they will prevail in a combat street incident only to find one day if they need to deploy the training they received that their opponent, who may have never had a single day of “martial arts training” is going to overwhelm them with pure “street fighting” experience or as one big individual told me – “If you try and put me in that squad car, I’m going to go ‘street crazy’ on you.”

So what does this all mean to the field of martial arts? An evolution brings nothing other than a revolution. Fact — some traditional styles are more conducive to street combat than others, while yet some are beautiful and artful maneuvers demonstrated in Katas/Forms that are best suited for controlled competitions.

Let me stop right here and address something here about “scripted” multiple attackers observed at competition meets and seen on our television sets. We see a powerful and dynamic display of a master martial artist displaying lightening speed maneuvers against six or more opponents. It’s a beautiful show, but that’s all it is! The street is not scripted and if attacked by as many as six opponents I would suggest to you that it’s not going to look pretty! Here’s a dose of reality – I’m going to predict that the same martial artist is not going to be taking the “honored bow” at the conclusion of a real street combat scenario, whether it be with one or six aggressive opponents.

I’m not naïve enough to predict that someone cannot defeat six or more opponents – however, I have never seen it accomplished on the street quite frankly (not without a weapon anyway!). I would venture to guess that win or lose you aren’t going to be going home without a stop at the emergency room for a few hours. The wise, in most combat situations, would do their best when confronted with multiple attackers to first attempt to get away from any type of physical confrontation by using verbal skills to deescalate the situation (Verbal Judo – Tactical Communication Skills!).

So, what started the move away from the traditional way of doing business? Well, quite simply, what many former traditional martial artists have found was (through personal experience) that much of what was being taught in their Dojo was not effective on the street.

Why has it taken so long to recognize this? Decades ago street violence was limited to major cities around the globe and what was called violent in those times can’t even compare to what the average person walking the street anywhere in the world today may very well confront – it is no longer limited to our “big” cities, it is in our finest and smallest of suburban areas and gang violence alone not only threatens the world, so now does terrorism! So, with the increased violence has come increased experience which taught many of our colleagues that the type of self defense being instructed by their “Master” teachers was just not effective for the world we live in today.

I believe the traditional style of martial arts should always be instructed and those who desire to pursue the “traditional way” I say God’s speed. There is nothing wrong with them and yes, they can and do instruct the way of self defense – however, I and many others truly believe that martial arts must change to adapt, much like a chameleon, to its surroundings.

This is why the era of “Mixed Martial Arts” (MMA) has grown as it has – again, cage matches are not street defense. No one method of doing business is good enough today. We must all recognize that there are good street combat methods that can be taken from just about every one of the traditional arts – but let us not only use them, but let us refine them and not be afraid of using sound combat principles that are necessary on today’s streets all over the world.

Here are 20 real street scenarios that I responded to when I was a police officer. I responded to hundreds of situations that if the person had been trained in a “street oriented martial art” they would have been better prepared to deal with what was taking place. These victims would have been either kept from being transported to the hospital or may very well have been alive today.

These types of scenarios are not being addressed in our traditional martial arts schools and certainly not a part of what nonsense is marketed all over the world as MMA cage matches!



Waiting on the streets of America — FOR YOU!

No “Referee” to STOP this from happening!

Serious injuries on the street should not be delivered by the criminal upon an innocent person or in the Octagon under the guise of a so-called sport. Injuries of such magnitude should be delivered by a person trained in self-defense against an assailant bent on killing or seriously injuring you or a loved one. JUSTIFIED USE OF FORCE!

“When the bad guy comes a calling…….
Give him the bad day!”
Peter Brusso

You Decide!

20 Scenario/Incidents

1. Victim sitting in driver’s seat with a knife to neck.

2. Victim sitting in passenger seat with a gun to rear of head. Driver present as well.

3. Victim sitting in car as (victim is driver) with knife to right side rib cage area.

4. Suspect running at victim straight on with a baseball ball bat swing at head level – 10 feet away.

5. Victim depositing money in bank depository at night. Suspect comes up from behind and grabs victim around the neck with left arm and grabs victim’s right arm and puts it up behind their back.

6. Victim bending down fixing flat tire when suspect walks up asking if he can help, but instead uses a thrusting front kick to the shoulder area of the victim to knock victim down.

7. Victim riding bicycle when approached by 2 suspects, both with knives.

8. Victims are in restaurant with wife when approached by 2 suspects looking for a fight – start throwing punches at man and his wife!

9. Victim walking up stairway from a lower level parking lot area when grabbed by a suspect wielding a knife from the brush area – victim knocked to the ground. Suspect tells victim not to scream, puts knife down close to the victim while he unbuckles his pants.

10. Victim stopped at stop light when driver’s side door is pulled open and suspect starts grabbing victim out of the car in order to take vehicle.

11. Victim surrounded by 3 suspects demanding wallet – no weapons – lots of punches and kicks to victim.

12. Victim walks into house and is confronted by a burglar with a gun pointed in their side.

13. Victim in bed alone at home when confronted by intruder at bedside with a knife pointed down towards neck area.

14. Victim in secluded school hallway walking by suspect when grabbed by the arm and pulled towards him.

15. Victim walking to car across the parking lot after closing the business for the day when a car with 2 suspects screech to a stop, jump out and grab victim.

16. Victim approaching a bar when confronted by 2 suspects with beer bottles looking to strike him for no other reason than to seriously injure him.

17. Victim walking to car in shopping mall parking lot when approached by suspect with a “stun gun,” puts it to the victim’s rib cage area.

18. Victim sitting on bus bench when one suspect approaches from the front and one from the rear – one in the front starts kicking, one in the rear starts striking with his fist to the side of victim’s head.

19. Victim walking home from school when approached by 4 suspects – one thrusting an ice-pick at victim and the other 3 kicking and punching.

20. Victim standing at open trunk of their vehicle when pushed from behind – suspect pushed victim in trunk of vehicle after short struggle and closed trunk.

We should have respect for all martial arts and martial artists no matter what style. Cage matches are not a style! Most often they are no more than practioners of different martial arts brawling in a supervised/refereed street fight!

Unfortunately, we are seeing a division between the “traditional” and non-traditional” taking place with what I see is an attitude of arrogance on the part of some of our younger martial artists who have learned nothing but street oriented martial arts and who believe they are the only real and capable fighters these days.

There are no “Ultimate Fighters” and there are no street “Cage Matches” – there are far too many ingredients that go into the making a successful fighter and fight. We will all be better off when real respect comes for each other. We will all have opinions, but I truly believe that a “free style” and “street oriented martial arts” system is the best approach to take if we are going to stay alive on the street.

I published this in a flyer not long ago – it’s TRUE!

• There is NO Concrete and Asphalt to be found in the “Octagon”!

• There are NO Referees on the mean streets of America!

• There are NO “Tap Outs” allowed – only Choke Outs and broken bones in our urban parking lots and sidewalks!

• There are NO Mouth Guards to insert when being pounded!

• There are NO Gloves to protect your hands when striking!