Get tactical with Graham Kuerschner

Is it irresponsible for world-renowned coaches of one-on-one sport combat to sell their material as suitable for street self-defence?

Russia's Konstantin Erokin (bottom) is lucky he's in the UFC and not the TFC.

I recently received an email containing a link to a new video product by Greg Jackson. The link was to a trailer in which Greg talked about his MMA Core Curriculum video course. I was surprised he hadn’t done it sooner given he operates one of the premier MMA training operations in the US and arguably the world.

I was disappointed, however, to hear him make repeated reference to the potential of using this material in the self-defence context. Greg is a straight shooter in my view, so I give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he actually believes that to be true.

My problem, as always, is that here we have another combat sport instructor — and one of very high calibre — pushing the line that fighting techniques geared for one environment, the Octagon in this case, readily transfer to a totally different environment, that being the street.

It’s yet another unfortunate example of a high-profile personality with an indubitable pedigree in one area of inter-personal combat making statements about a very different area in which he has no pedigree. My analogy is an experienced police officer claiming his law-enforcement training material is applicable to the military. There may be a little overlap depending on the mission profile, but really?

And again we run into the misconceptions that are still alive in the minds of many: that self-defence equals ‘fight’; closed-fist (knuckle) striking is your best striking weapon; ‘winning’ means to physically dominate your attacker; and skills in MMA (or whichever combat sport) will readily transfer to the street because you can just simply adjust your technique to suit on the fly. Sorry, no, that’s not the case. No more than police training and experience will readily transfer to the battlefield. Some will, but a lot won’t.

What really raised my eyebrows was a statement by Greg that his material was usable in a multiple-opponent context. Say what? But rather than rebutting that statement head on, maybe you should make up your own mind. If you haven’t already come across it, take a look at Team Fighting Championship (TFC) at or This is one of several Russian variants of the UFC where teams of five fight each other and the total weight of all team members combined — not the individual team members — has to be within a set limit.

Having trained with the Eastern Europeans and Russians, it is very them, but I can’t see it taking off in the West myself, as it is too close to actual street fighting. If people have a problem with the UFC, they will have a real problem with the TFC. As the Fox Sports UFC blog describes it: “Group street fighting transferred to the sport grounds is how a ridiculous new fight league is marketing its ridiculous new product”.

It is brutal. Once a team member dispatches his opponent, he is free to attack another of the opposing team who may already be fighting one of his own team. Two or three against one is common and it gets really ugly if the ‘one’ is on the ground — kicks to the head and body by the standing fighters are within the rules.

The change in the dynamic by adding multiple opponents is quite dramatic and TFC fights are lucky to last five minutes, let alone three five-minute rounds. And so it is out of the cage. I tell my students you do not have the luxury of three five-minute rounds, meaning 15 minutes in which to deal with your situation once it goes physical.

It’s more like 15 seconds, and maybe less if there are multiple opponents.

As time moves on in an MMA fight or in any sport combat encounter, the dynamic remains the same over the duration of the fight: two unarmed fighters, one referee and one set of rules that all are following. In the street, this is not so; the dynamic usually changes, and quickly.

More people come on to the scene, some getting involved, the camera phones come out, weapons that were not present initially are now produced and security or the police arrive. The dynamic changes, and sometimes not in your favour. And it becomes more complicated. Your ability to control the course of the confrontation and its outcome diminish.

So I argue it is a stretch to claim that training in one context readily carries over to another. But what do you think? What conclusions do you draw after comparing the UFC with the TFC?

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