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▶  More from Modern Combat Guest Authors The Man Cave To The Point
That Which Does Not Kill Us
Makes Us Stronger By Eirik Bloodaxe

Yesterday I emailed Eirik Bloodaxe with a request. The core of this site, if not the bulk of its content, is realistic combat-functional information for the fighting man and/or survivalist. Being the primary author I am of the opinion that the strong man’s perspective has been largely absent. I am a small man, who has not been strong, even for my size, since my teens. I have asked Eirik to speak on what it is like to be a strongman in relation to combat and survival situations. He kindly indulged me below.

James has asked me to write about my view on the role of strength in combat survival, and specifically how having extra grunt in one’s tank can save your bacon. Shit, something serious went wrong in the metaphor department there, but no matter…

Technically, there are a number of concepts of “strength,” with definitions based on maximum muscle contractions per unit time to the mechanic accounts of the capacity of withstanding force and pressure without failure. But, from a common-sense perspective strength is about supplying a large force to overcome resistance. Power is the rate of performing work or expanding energy, so in general for a human body, strength is an aspect of power, along with speed. A strong person, who is fast, and skilled in a technique usually can execute that technique with greater power than a slower, less strong person:

And, finally, strength involves in most cases an increase in the cross-sectional diameter of a muscle, which increases mass, although other factors, including neurological connection also come into play:;

To some degree this makes the more muscular man able to take some punishment more than the less muscular one, but in my opinion, not too much faith should be put there given the numerous intrinsic weaknesses of the human anatomy.

Now, the personal approach. By way of background, I had grown up with a father who was a former wrestler and boxer during the great Depression, and my grandfather was a soldier who had seen combat in the trenches in World War I. All of the males of the family (father and two uncles), had fought the Japs in South East Asia during World War II, and all had killed men with bullets and bayonets, one uncle taking on a katana-wielding Jap. I hoped to go to Vietnam, but unfortunately the war ended before I could.

My old man prized physical strength and made life on the farm as arduous as possible. Along with that, in anti-Vietnam protest days, he enjoyed fighting long-haired uni types who dared venture into his working man’s pub. I was his side kick, and at the age of about 10, once defeated a long-haired proto-antifa who was going to smash my old man with a bar stool, while the old guy was choking out another scumbag. I smashed the proto-antifa in the knees with a bar stool crashing him to the ground. Then the old man grabbed him, dragged him out of the bar, and smashed his face into the pavement.

During the 1960s, while the old man was at the local pub, I would usually drop around to see “Mr Muck/Mack” an old former Irish cop, who spoke like he had a mouthful of marbles and who had served as a cop in some of Ireland’s toughest towns between the two wars. He had a vast library on jiu jitsu and other Asian arts, most of it in Japanese, I suppose. Locks was his thing, perhaps because he was too old and fat for mat work. Anyway, I learnt what I could from him to supplement boxing and wrestling from the old man.

Later, in high school, the oriental kicking cult developed with Bruce Lee in The Green Hornet (1966-1967), so I sought out what karate was available at the time, which was not much. Later in the 1970s, spurred by the Bruce Lee movies, a Taekwondo club was set up at my school, which I trained at.

The first point about physical strength and fitness is that at this early age I had no problems with bullies. In fact, if I was not dux of the class intellectually I would have been the hyper-bully. The pussy pseudo-bullies did gang up on me once in First Year, about four of them, and I went full power on them, breaking one guys nose with my first punch. Guy number two was slammed into the ground. The other guys then ran off. The tough guy with the broken nose started crying his heart out, and I laughed at him. While today a student would get suspended or expelled, the teacher on yard duty who saw the fight did nothing because he hated the fuckers, and well, I was the top student.

After high school I ended up training Wing Chun kung fu as a girl that I was banging at the time enrolled in a self defense class. I ended staying on, training in many schools over the country, and in Hong Kong. At the same time I took up power lifting. Not taking roids I got nowhere in contests, usually placing last or second to last in each meet. The roided up guys were unbeatable. But, I felt that natural strength was the only real strength worth having, and anyway, what good would roid strength be if you could not get your supply? Also, I did not want my precious nuts to shrink.

I got an opportunity to spar with one of the top Wing Chun men, back in the early 1980s, a master complete with the full Bruce Lee and Ip Man connections. He could not speak much English but indicated that he wanted to seriously spar, and we went into a private room, no witnesses. Then it was on, and was much like this scene from Ip Man 3:, without the bullshit. I mean, try punching a real fuckin’ window.

So, we have the classic question: who wins in a fight between the strong man, also physically bigger, taller, with a massive arm reach, and the older martial arts master, smaller, lesser reach. Actually, the scenario is more interesting, as the strong man is a student of the same art, with other skills from a number of other systems thrown in. The master, we suppose is the best in the world in his art. And, drum roll, the winner is: no one! It is a draw. The superior physical qualities neutralized the skill advantage, or looked at from the other side, skill neutralized the physical advantage (plus lesser skill).

In many self defense situations, some against more than one attacker, I felt that I got through because of the extra grunt that having some muscle power gave. In one self-defense situation, my girlfriend at the time had her hand bag stolen by a Lebanese dude in a shopping centre. I ran after him, all over the area, jumping over cars, evading traffic during peak hour. It was just like in the movies, but shit dangerous because we both almost got smacked by cars numerous times. Eventually I caught him in an underground car park, where four of his scum mates were lurking. Fortunately for me, 30 years ago guns and knives were not as common as today in that city, and I lucked out, as they apparently left their knives in their nearby parked car. So, I strove to end the fight as quick as possible, smashing jaws and noses. But, over-confident, I made the mistake of kicking one guy in the head, and slipped on a pool of blood that had oozed from one shattered nose, so that the group had time to gather each other up and get in their car. Raging, I then tore the number plate off of their car, the screws making “ping’ sounds as they snapped. Then they sped off. I walked to the cop shop and gave them the twisted number plate, and they had the well-known punks in about an hour.

From that point I continued to train in both the martial arts, with a later focus on melee weapons, and strength and continue to do each day. One goes down as the years roll on, but at my gym, I often win the monthly strength contests, and usually come in fifth or sixth on the more aerobic/strength endurance challenges. In 2016 I trained for a world record attempt for holding a 20 kg Olympic bar arms outstretched. I could beat the 2009 record, then the 2013 record, making 1 minute 45 seconds beating this bloke:

Before I could get together my official attempt a couple of months ago, the Russian Anatoly Ezhov did 2 min 35 seconds and I can’t touch it: But, I did ok for a guy over 60.

A couple of years ago I headed back to the city on a bitterly cold winter’s night. I parked my car in the shopping center car park and walked to the shopping area. I was wearing all black work clothes, black steel-capped boots, black jeans and a size 7 XL bomber jacket, over a wool jumper. Then, at the intersection I saw a guy in just his underpants. He was in the middle of the road and as cars approached, he jumped onto the cars, trying to kill himself. After a couple of collisions, he was bleeding quite badly. At that point a Chinese guy standing next to me yelled out in his kooky Asiatic way: “What you are doing is very bad. You must stop.” Then he fucked off. The near-naked lunatic looked at me and said: “We have got a fuckin’ hero. And [pointing at me] you are the fuckin’ hero.”

He then came at me. Not wanting to contact with someone covered in blood, I turned and looked for an environmental weapon: the trusty shopping trolley, the large wheeled type that takes a week’s groceries. I grabbed one, military pressed it and waited for him. He said weird things about my mother and dogs. I said: “Come any closer you fuckin’ lunatic, and you will be wearing this to cover up your tiny prick.”

He stopped, looked a bit shocked, then turned and ran. I put down the trolley, just as the cops arrived on the scene. It took them about seven minutes to get there even though the main police station was a two minute drive down the street. And, the lunatic got away even after all that.

In summary, strength is important in fighting, not the be-all-or-end-all, but up there with speed and skill. Ideally, one needs to put it all together in one package so that an opponent can be obliterated. The ideal is to develop destructive power that will crush your opponents. It is useful to have a truly menacing body, complete with “don’t fuck-with-me” body language.

All that is good in a society that restricts handguns and other weapons in personal carry. But today, with guns, weapons and gangs everywhere, THE BEST FORM OF SELF-DEFENSE IS NOT BEING THERE AT ALL, BEING THE INVISIBLE MAN:

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