There's an understatement.
Turn two fit strikers loose on each other with an all-bets-are-off, have-at-it command, and what you get real fast is injury. In a ten-second bout this might not be serious enough to warrant a trip to the ER or the ICU, but if you have a typical hour-and-a-half training session with this as the operant mode, somebody needs to call somebody and have them standing by with the am-bu-lance -- because somebody else is surely going to get a serious ass-whippin'. Broken this, torn that, smashed these other.
If you expect to do full-out over time, however big your class starts out, it is going to shrink and disappear until there is only one, who can then play with himself.
Break your toys, you don't have them to use any more.
It's a well-duh! and anybody who has ever danced in a circle against another knows it.
There are all kinds of workarounds, great drills, but like the map, they aren't the territory. Still, to be sure, a good map can help you navigate the territory. (Light up Google Earth, and you can get a street view, and while it's not the same as the real deal, it will surely help you recognize the place when you get there.)
Before there was an internet, man-made orbital satellites, television, radio, alternating current or any kind of portable photography, people were still capable of generating useful maps. Look at the illo at the top of this column. That's from about four hundred years ago. Is it to the centimeter accurate and complete? Of course not, but it is close enough so you don't have any problem figuring out what you are looking at, isn't it?
Four hundred years, but that's nothing, really -- people have been beating each other up since before they fooled around shagging the Neanderthals. And passing along how to do both.
I'm always a bit amused by folks who say you can't teach things like this. Obviously somebody figured out ways to do it.
There are some clever drills to approximate the territory, but no matter how clever, they aren't the real deal. Go really slow and limit it to one thing? Punching slow and easy does help you build a basis for punching fast and, but sooner or later, you have to punch fast and hard.
Recall the Bruce Lee story, about when he was being challenged by a master kung fu guy. "Push me, right here," the master said. Lee punched him in the face and knocked him down. "I don't push, I punch," Lee supposedly said. Probably an apocryphal story, but it doesn't matter -- the principle is there. Do it slo-mo, blindfolded, in water up to your neck, it's all good, but it's all still a drill. You use the drills to build tools, but the drills aren't what you are aiming for.
Here's a typical step-by-step for teaching a martial art skill, and the rationale for it:
Cain attacks Abel. Cain is restricted to a) one attack or defense that must be offered b) slowly and with c) little power.
Abel is likewise restricted.
Cain punches to the nose. Abel blocks. Or parries. Or ducks. Or shoots in. Doesn't matter, the restrictions are there. No power, no speed. So if Abel misses the deflection, no problem.
After a time, Cain is allowed go faster and punch harder, eventually achieving full-power and speed. The risk is still there, but mitigated because Abel knows exactly what is coming, and he has learned the tool(s) to deal with it.
So then you up the ante. Two attacks, again slow and easy. Then maybe a counter when the attacks come. But still choreographed so there aren't any surprises.
Then, if you haven't bashed each other too much, more varied attacks and defenses, starting slow and scaling up. And eventually, you get used to seeing full-power, full-speed shots coming your way, but with the limiter still in place.
Drills, to get you used to the idea of punches coming.
Yes, you'll get hit anyway, but that's not always bad. Being able to take a shot and keep going is a useful trick. Being hit by your friend who will help you up afterward is better than being hit by somebody on the street who will stomp you while you are still down.
How do you deal with the surprise factor, once the limits are off? When Cain can throw anything he has, and Abel can, too?
There is the key, the crux, the real nitty-gritty, what it is all about. When the rubber hits the road, the shit the fan, the push comes to the shove, then what?
I like the Stonewall Jackson Dictum: Get there firstest with the mostest. Abel doesn't wait on Cain, he brings his own surprise out and delivers as soon as he determines intent.
Cain says, "I am gonna kick your -- "
Nope. Too late. Abel is gone -- over, under, around, or through, as needed.
From Abel's viewpoint it doesn't matter what Cain does. What Abel does is more important. Because by the time Cain gets ready, Abel is at home, having a beer, and thank you very much, brah, give my regards to the monkeys in the land of Nod. That's the name of the game.
The training notion here is this: If Abel has seen ten thousand punches flying at his face from every conceivable angle and knows and has practiced ways to prevent those from impacting, it's not the real deal, but it's maybe not such a leap to make that last hop from lots of practice to reality than from never-seen-it-before.
I mean, if my buddy punches me and I miss the deflection and he smashes my nose, that might not be real but it sure feels real. As anybody who has ever gotten decked in a ring or on a mat knows, it doesn't matter what somebody meant if they smack you hard enough to ring your chimes, it still hurts. If I can block a hard punch from this guy, maybe it might not be too far-fetched a notion to believe I can block a hard punch from a different guy?
If you have never seen a punch approaching your nose at speed, you will have the built-in defensive software -- freeze, run, or attack. But if you have practiced a response until it is almost reflexive, then it might be there when you call on it.
Might not be, but given my limited experience in different kinds of training, it has been there for me more often than not, so I'm good with it. It's about perception -- if I don't see a threat, nah, maybe nothing kicks in. If believe that it is? I think it wakes up the critter in the cave. If it is gonna be me or him goes down? Better that it is him. No question.
There are folks who disagree with this idea, and I can see how they might. Then again, until they come up with a better map? I'm using the one I got.