"Real Fights" | The Martial Arts Academy
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"Real Fights"

Keep up with your self defence.


I had a good reminder a few nights back as to what a “REAL” fight is actually like. It highlighted a few of the potentially overlooked aspects of your training.


It was a cold wintry Monday night here in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand. The Mount, for the most part is an amazing place to live, known more for its surf and cafe culture than the story I'm about to tell you.


I had taken the night off training as i was feeling the effects of a cold kicking in. I opted to take the night off instead of spreading my germs around the club. The universe apparently had other plans.


At around 7pm I headed down to the local soccer grounds to pick up my son from soccer practice.

As I arrived to the grounds one of the other soccer dads alerted me to a situation that had taken place. He told me that a rather large drunk man that lived next to the park had been leaning over his fence swearing at the parents and kids whilst they had been practicing. Now it’s worth noting that this “other soccer dad” is actually a local police detective. He told me he had called it in and a patrol was on its way to check the guy out. The detective had also had a word to the man explaining the situation. He then proceeded to point the man out to me. As I turned to see what all the fuss was about I locked eyes with a large “Lumber jack” of man who proceeded to instantly jeer at me at challenge me to a fight.


This guy was ready to go. He was angry and looking to unload, on anyone. My response was to actually laugh he seemed that absurd. Which probably wasn't the best response as it only served as further challenge to him.


Soccer practice came to a close and the Detective and I coordinated to escort the other parents and kids from the field to their cars. All the other parents had left and the detective had one last word to the angry drunk telling him to “pull his head in” before the detective headed off across the park grounds to his own vehicle. I knew I was the last one left, but to be honest i still wasn't concerned. Part of me was thinking “Ah, he’s all talk… He’s not gonna do anything”, but as I was loading my sons bike in the car the man came off his property this time with a fairly vicious looking dog held tight on a leash.


He had instantly stepped up the level of threat.


I told my son to get in the car and lock the doors. In hindsight this is where I should have got in the car and left too… but I'm going to be honest here, this guy had ticked so many boxes to warrant a response I felt ready to reply.


Like I said much smarter choices could be made but I'm attempting to be honest here.

I would be lying if i said there had never been points in my life where I had thought “what’s the point in all the training if you don't use it” ,but I’m also well aware of the responsibilities I have as a father, a husband and as an instructor in my community and I appreciate that for the most part my training means I don't get into random silly altercations… but this was something different.


He yelled at me “I knew when everyone left you’d be f*&kin pussy”. I said “Mate, I don't even know what you're on about, I’m just here to pick up my kid”. He continued to talk as though we had been in an existing altercation. It was at this point I realised my detective friend and I were dressed approximately the same and my would-be-attacker was so drunk he probably couldn't tell the difference.


I asked “so are you going to sic your dog on me then”….at which point he dropped the leash….


Fortunately for me the dog decided to just wander off back inside the man’s property.

My relief was short lived as the big man charged, right hand raised ready to fire a massive hay maker.


My first reaction was to shoot in for a body lock. Big mistake, it was at this point I realised I couldn't fit my arms around him. He proceeded to headlock me and with surprising force. He then went straight for my eyes and punched where he could.


I felt panic set in for a second but this is where one of the most powerful attributes of BJJ training kicked in. I was comfortable being uncomfortable. I told myself relax, protect your eyes and work for a better angle. I started to implement the basic headlock defense, Something I've taught in kids class over and over.


He was so large and strong I really struggled to get a good angle on his hips. But once again my mantra was “the technique works, reset, re-apply”


Finally I got behind his hips. Driving my hips into the back of his I was able to stand the big man up where I drove him to the side forcing all his weight onto one leg. He immediately became unstable and for the first time in the fight I felt the tide turn! He released and tried to re-grip but I had already ducked and secured a single leg sending him tumbling to his back.


At this point he said “wait, wait”. My thinking was a mix of “I don't trust you” and “MY TURN!”


I was straight to mount position where I based and delivered heavy strikes, he threw his arm up and I switched to S mount but in the moment decided arm barring a big man on concrete wasn't in my best interests. I continued to strike until his back was given. The rear naked was applied.


He proceeded to tap out.


But first rule of the street is I’m not letting go of this choke until i know I’m safe… and that’s when you are asleep. He actually proceeded to vomit whilst I was choking him but I persisted with the choke until he was unconscious. By the time it was all over he had dragged me all the way from the street into a dark corner of his property.


In an adrenalin fueled daze I made my way back to my car.


One of the other parents from the soccer club had driven past and seen the end of the altercation so the police had been called. I was cleared of any wrong doing as he had attacked me off of his property.


I know it’s a bit odd but I felt genuine concern for the guy as I didn't know how bad I had hurt him. But on the other hand maybe that was a lesson he needed and karma decided to hand him a black belt that night.


So what did I learn?


I came to find out the guy has a history of violence, including weapons and has served time in prison. He’s is a struggling alcoholic who for the most part sits quiet until these outbursts happen and the surrounding community has been suffering under him for quite a while.


This could have gone two ways but it seems our little meeting has served to chill him out, a lot. And maybe now he realizes people in the community can bite back. Looking at his history I consider myself lucky the way it finished.


I was more than a little shocked at how badly I had hurt him. The police explained he had a severely black and bruised face and a very sore throat. I don't consider myself violent but I've also trained for 12 years so my normal is a little different to others.


So what are my takeaways from this incident?

1.    I was reminded that fights come with a lot of emotion from excitement and pride through to remorse and guilt.

2.    I learned that what I actually used in the fight was the most basic Jujitsu that is sometimes lost in the conversation as we discuss far more flashier aspects of the game.

3.    I learned that my calmness under pressure was possibly my biggest asset.

4.    I learned that although I’m a black belt in BJJ there is no magic here and I must stay fit and well-practiced.

5.    I learned that as hard as we try to recreate the moment nothing will ever come close to a real fight.


Stay safe my people, I hope this helps you in some way.




Nathan Sowter

BJJ Blackbelt

Gracie Allegiance TMAA

New Zealand