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MMA, Ground Fighting and Other Non-Real-Life Combat Fads by: Dr. William Wong, ND, PhD

Disclaimer: This one is surely going to get me in trouble. But, as I’ve never been one to go with fads and current thinking on most anything and I’ve never been one to hold my tongue when I believe something is dead wrong - here goes! 

The ground fighting and mixed martial arts fad of the last 15 or so years is great for sport, TV watching and for some folks wagering on. But I really have to say when it comes to the street or battleground it is near useless for actual combat against folks who are really trying to kill you and not just score points on you! 

In real combat the object of the game is to kill or incapacitate the enemy, then turn round and do it again, then turn round and do it once more for as many bad guys as you may be facing. In a street situtation or battlefield there will likely be more than one opponent to neutralize (i.e. pc jargon for kill). So what happens if you take an opponent to the ground and proceed to put locks on him, choke him, punch, knee and other wise abuse him? I’ll tell you what happens, that particular guy you are working on may be in trouble but his fellow gang members, troopers or terrorists will knife, bayonet, rifle butt, club or otherwise put a serious hurting on you because while you are playing Hulk Hogan you can only deal with one opponent. All of the bad guys friends are free to to do whatever they please to you. Have you ever thought about that? Real fighting is a multi-person melee and free for all - when you have Gooks coming through the wire and it’s hand-to-hand time; there are bad guys are seemingly everywhere. 

The only folks who need to use take downs and ground fighting to subdue folks are cops; that’s their job. Citizens facing deadly force are under no compulsion to subdue and hold a criminal for the police! (That goes only for the US. For you folks in Europe, where there is no right to self defense and you’ll get arrested for furthering violence if you resist an attack, just lie there and get beat up as little as possible). Your only job is to make sure you and yours survive the encounter as best as you can manage. 

But you’ve been told by the Brazilian Ju Jitsu folks that their ground fighting arts were actually combat tested and based. Well yes. But... All the stories about Brazilian Ju Jitsu doing so well in actual combat in the mob wars and so forth of Rio, need to be looked at in the context of the situations they found themselves in. A former cop and Olympic Judoka friend of mine told me that the Brazilians developed their form of Ju Jitsu when a Japanese Yakuza escaped prosecution in Japan, went to Brazil and taught a particular mob family there how to best sneak up on Rio cops and kill them. I guess that presents combat experience of sorts. 

Let’s look at real martial arts applied to actual combat situations to see what actually works. The best example and statistics we have to date on martial arts use in combat are those concerning the South Korean troops that served in the Viet Nam war. The NVA and VC totally feared the Koreans. God bless them, the ROK’s were ruthless! The ROK’s are among the hardest hearted and toughest troops on the planet; ask any one who’s served or fought with them. They are legends with almost entire divisions among the ROK Marines and Paras being made up of black belts. In Viet Nam the only troops to consistently use their martial arts were the ROK’s. They used Korean style karate, and while Yodo (Korean Judo) is commonly taught, the military CQB techniques are entirely punch - kick in nature. 

In their 11 years of involvement in the war, with all their major operations and areas of responsibility (i.e. all of II Corps and the southern part of I Corps), ROK losses were only some 4,000 killed and 11,000 wounded out of a total of 320,000 South Korean troops who fought in the war! Their kill ratio (how many of the enemy died for every one of theirs killed) in many battles was often in the triple digits to one! As in this reference on the ROK Marines taken from Wikipedia:

“Their most notable operations in Vietnam were "Operation Van Buren" and the Battle of Hoi An. During "Operation Van Buren", a ROKMC platoon of about 13 soldiers wiped out an elite North Vietnamese Army regiment, resulting in only 2 Korean casualties while more than 400 NVA soldiers were killed. The initial gun battle had devolved into bloody hand-to-hand combat”. (Note: This is a 200 to 1 Kill ratio)! Read the entire entry: Wikipedia.org

Here is another Wikipedia citation on a company of ROK’s (less than 200 men) being attached by two entire North Viernamese battalions (aprox 8 companies making the ROK’s outnumbered some 8 to 1.

“On February 14, the North Vietnamese 40th and 60th Battalions moved into their positions in the forest surrounding the perimeter of the South Korean 11th Company. The regular VPA battalions were also supported by one VC local force battalion from Quang Ngai. With their troops build up around the area, the Communist forces planned to cut all communication lines and wipe out the South Korean forces in the area.

At dawn on February 15, the battle began with the Viet Cong attempting to cut through the wires of the South Korean base. The South Korean marines were dug in and waiting with requests for air-support. When the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong had penetrated Korean positions, heavy fighting immediately followed. Initially the outnumbered South Koreans were pinned down, but Communist forces' ranks soon started to break up in heat of the battle as the South Koreans counterattacked. When the fighting ended more than 200 enemy bodies were left behind”.

One last citation on the ROK Army:

“Operation Hong Kil Dong
During Operation Hong Kil Dong (July-August 1967), the Koreans killed 638 and lost only 26 soldiers, a kill ratio of nearly 25 to 1. 98 crew-served and 359 individual weapons were captured”.

As Black Belt Magazine noted in the November 1968 issue, almost 60% of the ROK troop kills involved only the use of hands or feet (punch, chop and kick) and no other weapons!!! That is real combat experience. This is also very telling of what actually works on the battlefield. 

Yes, we all need to know how to do some wrestling. Getting out and up from a take down, a lock some other technique is needed knowledge. But the thought that engagements can be won by taking an opponent down and working on him while on the ground ignores the realities of the street and battleground. 

To learn more of the ROK Marines go to: ROK Marine Corps (South Korea)