How to Become a Badass
It’s a firm belief of mine that every man should learn how to fight, to protect himself and those he cares about.
It is also essential when you come across some loudmouth that is begging someone to shut it for him.
Of course, every man has his moments when he deserves a serious ass whipping.
Becoming a formidable fighter is a journey of self discovery. It teaches you things about yourself, develops your strength of character, and also changes the way you view the world in a way you will not regret.
Like all pursuits, accomplishing this goal takes two things; Time and Pressure.
That and smart decisions. This article will tell you exactly what you need to know when it comes to How To Become a Badass.
You might be a tough guy. You might be strong and fit. You may have been undefeated in 30 street fights and 40 in bar fights.
But even with all that, a skilled fighter will almost always take you out. Technique will trump an untrained combatant 9 times out of 10.
To take all this to the next level (or to get to the first level) you’ve got to find a place to train that isn’t filled with phonies.
Avoiding the McDojo can be tricky. Your buddy that just started training Brazilian Ju Jitsu and who raves about his instructors, really doesn’t know whether they are good or not (unless he has done proper research).
When picking places to train, remember that not all gyms are created equal. You are going to want to learn from someone with an accomplished record or reputable pedigree (where they learned, who they studied under, etc).
Time vs Level of Proficiency
If you are just starting out, you are going to have to accept the fact that you are going to suck for what seems like forever. If you are studying to become a well rounded fighter, you are going to need to learn proper striking and grappling.
The novice will be able to pick up striking much more quickly than grappling. Grappling requires being able to use your body to feel where your opponent is and then react. It is multidimensional in it’s practice and mastering it simply takes more time. Unless this is your passion, I recommend learning to strike first as it will make you a more formidable adversary more quickly.
Of course, if you have the time, training both categories in tandem would accelerate your advancement to becoming a well rounded fighter.
Striking – The Two Main Disciplines
Basics are what wins fights. Learning to throw a straight punch sounds simple but it takes a lot of practice. Throwing a proper combination of punches is something that is going to take a serious commitment. With striking you are going to need to learn to wrap your hands properly to protect them. You are going to need to learn to hit the heavy bag and preferably have someone holding the focus mitts for you to improve accuracy, rate of work, conditioning, and the quality of punches you throw. A good boxing class will have an experienced amateur boxing coach that has produced some champions. It really is a “sweet science”. Learning proper footwork, head movement, punching and counter punching, slipping and how to parry is one of the most complex but rewarding endeavors you can undertake.
Again, learning the basics is tantamount to progressing as a fighter to the point of proficiency. It’s focus is more on elbows and leg kicks. Strict Muay Thai fighters are not known for being great at throwing proper punches, however, a huge benefit to being in the USA is that most Thai fighters here have some experience in boxing so they will be able to (or should be able to) show you correct technique. You will learn to kick with both legs and check with both legs, this can be a painful process but it’s essential to well roundedness.
You are going to need to learn what it’s like to hit a moving target, and make everything you’ve learned internalized by putting it to action. You will be surprised how quickly those techniques you learned and combos you practiced disappear from your abilities (especially when fatigued). When you are tired, this is when you are truly learning.
Having the right attitude is vitally important. Do not spar with someone going 100% Unless it’s been agreed upon prior. If you hit someone hard that knows what they’re doing, they are going to retaliate to teach you a lesson. I have seen guys get hit a few times and never come back to the gym. Learning to take a punch is also a part of learning striking. It doesn’t have to be painful, but an overzealous or excited fighter that doesn’t know his limits can really fuck up the practice room in a hurry, and he will regret it big time if he does.
Being humble and having the attitude “I’m hear to learn” is the best way to go. As you progress you will develop a feel for how much to turn it on, when to back off, and when to hit the gas.
A good rule of thumb is “Give it like you want to take it”. In other words, be prepared to get hit as hard or harder than you are hitting.
Make sure your partner knows your level of experience and above all, HAVE FUN. It doesn’t need to be this arduous process, when you are having fun you are relaxed, when you are nervous you are tense. Being relaxed will help you learn more quickly (and tire a lot less quickly).
Chances are great that your gym will sell you everything you need, chances are also great that you can buy what you need online for much less. Be patient, shop around, and get the most bang for you buck.
The one essential thing that you should absolutely not scrimp on is a mouthpiece. I advise strongly to get a custom mouthguard made.
You don’t want to get a tooth knocked out because you wouldn’t spend and extra 50 bucks.
Combatsports.com is a great place to start for getting the gear you need.
Grappling / Wrestling
In days past you could go to a Jiu Jitsu gym and get by on pulling someone straight into your guard. With the introduction of wrestling into fighting as a discipline, that is now considered by many to be a secondary position.
Of course, there are many excellent guard players that are neutral on the topic, but in a fight (especially in the street where it can mean a vicious cut) pulling guard should not be your first move.
At any rate, more and more black belts are training in wrestling and becoming quite good at takedowns.
Wrestling will control the tempo of the fight, if you are more comfortable on your feet, takedown defense will keep you there and throwing blows.
If you are more comfortable on the ground, a solid double leg takedown will always get you where you need to be.
It is absolutely essential to learn basic grappling skills if you want to have the confidence that goes along with being able to fight well. The truth is, mastering the basics is what you need, after that, your grappling skills are really only good in one place, your BJJ gym.
I can’t be clear enough when I say this, it happens all the time. Some clown who thinks he is tough will walk into a BJJ gym and try to muscle someone around and he WILL BE HUMBLED.
Go into the gym with the attitude of learning and just trying to do your best. Accept that you are going to be covered in mat burns (like carpet burn) on your face, hands, knees, etc. It’s uncomfortable and many times you will get hurt.
When in doubt, just tap out. You might be a tough person with a lot of heart. You are in the practice room, don’t try and be some sort of hero who thinks you have to earn respect. You don’t have the skill level yet and no one is expecting you to walk in and be the next Abu Dhabi champion. If you’re in a compromising position and unsure of what to do, TAP.
You are there to learn. Many guys don’t have the patience for someone who’s going to be hard headed and doesn’t recognize when the game is up. They will go ahead and follow through and you could get hurt. Like everything else in grappling, you have to develop a feel for where your limits are.
Just accept your the learning curve takes a while to go through and enjoy the process and the friends you make. Many guys in the gym are helpful and will show you what you are doing wrong, especially if you have a good attitude.
I recommend finding a gym that doesn’t only allow “tournament rules” submissions to be taught. Yes, they are safer but you are effectively training to have glaring weaknesses. I went into a gym once that wouldn’t allow heel hooks in their advanced class. Big mistake in my opinion.
You are about to learn a lot about yourself. Having heart is not something you can teach. You either have it or you don’t. But your mental toughness CAN be developed and strengthened, and both are essential elements to being a true badass and becoming hard as nails.
Make a deal with yourself to do one of these or both for a year. It can be challenging but it wouldn’t be rewarding if it was easy. Remember, you are working on yourself for life and since you are stuck being YOU, you may as well be the best version of you.
* Special note. There is a lot of publicity about Krav Maga, and while it is an effective fighting style, it has now devolved into the typical McDojo fighting routine. I advise against it.
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