A Martial Artist’s Greatest Weapon

Every Martial Artist has their favorite move. 

Khabib has his fence wrestling. 

Connor McGregor has his left hand. 

Ronda Rousey has her hip toss and Juji-Gatame. 

But the thing is, your best move isn’t necessarily your greatest tactic. 

There will always be someone out there who can shut it down, especially if they know, anticipate, and practiced negating your attack.

Therefore, your greatest tactic is “brains over brawn”- your ability to deceive your opponents. 

In the sport of boxing, this is called a feint, and in the sport of wrestling, this is called a fake. 

True deception, as in any sport, relies on exploiting your opponent’s desire to anticipate your next move.

Deception Is Your Greatest Weapon.

Combat sports are all about balancing chaos and order in the ring, cage, or mats. 

In an uncontrolled environment where there are too many variables that could go wrong.

We as Martial Artists look to minimize this “chaos” by finding the appropriate methods that allow us to maneuver through said chaos to secure victory. 

As an analogy for life, if you think about any time you were distressed, you may have reverted to old habits that made you feel safe.

Maybe, you got into a fight with your significant other— and perhaps, you began binge eating sugar, smoking marijuana, or going for a run to soothe your soul.

Regardless, whether your “soothing” is healthy or unhealthy, you still retreated towards it when things went wrong. 

Now, in combat arts stability can be defined as falling back to your favorite move when you are pressured. 

And stability can take many forms. 

Maybe, it’s your favorite grappling throw, takedown, or submission. 

Perhaps, it’s the kick or punch we have practiced 10,000x for decades. 

Stability could even be the sound of a bell that signals the end of this round. 

Essentially, when we face uncertainty or “chaos,” we feel out of our element. 

This is why we seek our comfort zone framed by our habits or in this case, strengths.  

They make us feel safe and confident.

Don’t you remember the first time you sparred, wrestled, or rolled with someone significantly better than you? 

The main thing on your mind was hammering them with your greatest tool— especially if the only tool in your repertoire was a hammer. 

Win or lose, it was your option with the highest likelihood of succeeding. 

However, you cannot always rely on your strengths.  

Sooner than later, other Martial artists will observe this and create a systematic, well-planned strategy to exploit your strength. 

Someone will discover the one missing piece that will stop you like a deer in front of headlights. Just the other day, this happened to me. 

Beat Your Opponents At Their Own Game. 

A great example of an individual who could exploit other fighters’ strengths is the legendary Georges St-Pierre (GSP).  

He used shoot boxing and reactive wrestling to take down world-class wrestlers in the UFC, yet he only had above-average wrestling skills: Olympians, D1 wrestlers, it didn’t matter. 

In the cage, GSP was the guy who took them down. 

Moreover, combat sports, like most sports are constantly evolving. 

Martial artists constantly refine and improve their techniques, attack/defensive sequences, and competitive approaches. 

What worked last year might not work next year. 

But regardless of the skill level in any era or even innovations in the industry, your ability to deceive your opponents is a truism that will always stand at the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. 

If you can disguise your intentions using sleight of hand and misdirection, you may be able to shift that balance of order and chaos in your favor. 

Boxers use “feints” or a deceptive movement during a match to out-box a faster or more skilled opponent.  

Wrestlers use “fakes” which is another term for deceptive movements to trick their opponents into reacting in a precise way.

MMA athletes use both. 

Your main job is not to force your opponents out of their secure havens but rather beat them in the area they have a natural affinity for.

If you guys want to keep up with the Martial Artists of the future who are now small children studying and analyzing the present-day arena, you must continue evolving. 

Just watch Valentina Shevchenko fight, she does exactly this.

The only way to outwit your opponent at their own game is to reach the highest levels of combat deception.  

Final Thoughts

One of your main jobs as a Martial Artist is to become a blackbelt in Manipulation tactics. 

Because successfully applying all your other techniques, including your favorite one, depends on your ability to dupe and ambush your opponents.  

When you can do that consistently, you will dictate the fight’s pace while not revealing your cards. 

Ultimately, we all know what’s like to don our poker faces in our work environments or for social media posts, now it’s time to apply that same concept to our Martial Arts careers. 

Like war, if you can flank your enemies from the rear while they are expecting a direct attack, you instill fear not just for what they can see, but also for what they cannot see.  

Fear causes hesitation.

And hesitation can cost them a loss, a broken arm, a damaged brain, or even their life. 


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