Martial Arts Blog

Never Underestimate your Opponent

 by pad-up on 07 Nov 2013 |
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Never Underestimate your opponent One of the most dangerous things a martial artist can ever do is to underestimate your opponent. This applies in competitions and tournaments, but perhaps more importantly in street fights and ‘real’ situations.To expand on this idea, I might even say never overestimate your own ability as a martial artist! Another argument would be not to overestimate the effectiveness of your own martial art or self defence system against any other. I want to explore these ideas in this article, and hopefully spark some debate.We’ve all heard great stories of the ‘underdog’ beating his opponent in a fight against all odds. The Rocky movies are a great example, but there are many more. In the real world, UFC 162 gave us a perfect example of a shock result against the odds. Anderson Silva’s epic reign as the UFC’s middleweight champion came to an end by way of one of the most amazing knockouts we’ve seen in MMA at the hands of Chris Weidman.
There’s been a huge debate about technical mistakes in the fight and other controversy, but the fact remains it was a massive shock to the UFC community. Was it a result of over confidence?  Is this something all martial artists and fighters are guilty of at some point? Believing your martial art or fighting style is ‘the best’ and is unbeatable is one of the most arrogant and stupidest mistakes you can make. For example, a Muay Thai champion might believe that the speed and power of his kicks would make him untouchable against an aikido student. Unless you’ve trained in a wide range of arts, you really can’t have any grasp of what might happen against an expert in a different discipline. If you watch a broad range of martial arts and combat systems you will see an incredible variety of stances, techniques and strategies, and no one can ever be said to be better than another. Arts like KravMaga may have a reputation for being more tried and tested in combat situations, but I’d bet even an expert in this would meet his match against dozens of other fighting styles.Underestimating your opponent on the street is an even more dangerous mistake. Firstly, you have no idea what training or experience he (or she!) may have. Secondly, you have to appreciate a range of unknown factors such as the influence of alcohol or drugs, hidden weapons and unusual terrain. Finally, you don’t know how other people around you will react if a fight breaks out. Strangers and passers by may regard you as the aggressor, even if you’ve been attacked. You can very quickly be facing an angry mob, even if you are the innocent party.To consider an example, let’s say you’ve had ten years karate training and have won numerous tournaments. You’re out one evening minding your own business when someone doesn’t like the look of you and decides to pick a fight. You block and move, and deliver a counter blow as a warning, but the guy hardly feels is as he’s heavily ‘under the influence.’ His girlfriend, who you didn’t notice at first, hits you over the head with a bottle from behind just as his four mates come back from the toilet and start to kick and pound you into the floor. Suddenly those tournament trophies don’t seem to valuable.


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