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Kung Fu fighter challenges bouncer, says BJJ doesn't work

A student at black belt Mick Aldridge's Athy BJJ, was working the door at a club, when a Kung Fu student said jiu-jitsu doesn't work, and offered a challenge.

This article is part of an ongoing effort by to understand what really works in martial arts. The focus is not on what happens in the arena, but rather what happens on the street, or in this case, in the gym. If you enjoyed it, check out more stories on:
1. Martial Arts on The Street
2. Dojo Storms
3. Style vs. Style

A BJJ student, Gary Doyle, was working the door of a club in Athy, County Kildare, Ireland, when he was approached by a martial artist, and informed that BJJ was not an effective martial art. The man then challenged Doyle to a fight to prove it.

Challenge accepted.

Then the man actually showed up at the agreed-upon venue, Athy BJJ, where Doyle trains. The dojo storm was fairly refereed by the gym owner, jiu-jitsu black belt Mick Aldridge.

The video opens with nearly four minutes of coach Aldridge fairly explaining his expectations for the fight. The video below is set to start right before the fight starts.

Doyle is conditioned, wearing fight shorts, MMA training gloves, a cup, and a mouthpiece. His opponent's attire is concerning - he's wearing pool floaties. The challenger is evidently a student of a style that pressure tests via point fighting, an approach that grew out of karate.

What is Karate?

Karate developed in the Ryukyu Islands, out of indigenous martial arts, with influence from Chinese martial arts. By the 1930s, it was widely practiced in Japan. Although sparring was controversial, over time, it became widely adopted in karate. Thus it was natural that formal sparring competitions would develop.

In the early 1950s, Tsutomu Oshima developed the first sportive rules for karate sparring matches in Japan, inspired by the fact that there were a lot of pretty girls at baseball games. The underlying theory was that like fencing with a real sword, a real karate blow was too dangerous to actually do full power on another person. So like fencing, a points system was developed.

Punches and kicks were thrown, but controlled to the body, and pulled just short of the face. The action was then stopped, and a center referee and four corner judges determined whether the pulled blow was thrown with sufficient power and speed.

Oshima brought his rules to the United States, where there was parallel development underway. The first karate tournaments in the USA were held in 1955, organized by Robert Trias. From there, these rules spread worldwide, and continue to be used to this day, with modifications.

A major change took place when a student of Jhoon Rhee's suffered a broken jaw. Rhee, The Father of Taekwondo in America, set out to develop protective gear. In 1973, he debuted Safe-T-Gear, foam-dipped protective gear for the hands, feet, shins, and head.

They were widely adopted in the USA, and radically changed play of the game for those athletes that used them. Footwork increased, as did the distance at which the players competed, and variations on basic punches and kicks were developed. The sport was very much like fencing – the object was to dart in and land a clean, controlled punch or kick, all without being hit. It was called variously "tournament karate" or “point karate” or “point fighting” or “semi contact” or “sport karate.” Detractors called it What’s The Point karate.

Point karate continued to evolve, with some rules allowing for continuous points, where the action was not stopped whenever a point was scored. The contact however still had to be limited.

Then this long-range, flashy, super fast, timing-based style of striking made its way into kickboxing, where the pressure testing was far more rigorous. And now it can be found, albeit rarely, at the elite level of mixed martial arts. 

To be clear, the style of martial arts that developed out of karate while wearing foam-dipped safety gear can be made to work. However, in order to do so, there has to be intense pressure testing.

Today, pressure testing via point fighting typically is done by notably less-effective martial arts. So seeing a gangly guy with pool floaties on his feet, hands, and head does not inspire a great deal of confidence. 

Unless you are Gary Doyle.

What Happened

Aldridge concludes his introduction. The pair touch gloves. The challenger then reaches his hands forward in a salute characteristic of Chinese martial arts. And he confirms it when he comically drops into an ludicrous stance.

The challenger moves forward and does it again. As he rises up, presumably to unleash a Hadouken, Doyle seizes hold of him, attempts a foot sweep, and follows that up with Osoto Gari. Doyle immediately transitions to sound ground control.

From there, he methodically works for a submission, while causing no lasting damage. Had he wanted to, he could have smashed the utterly defenseless challenger's face. When a couple of light taps with the back of the hand don't induce the challenger to roll over, a Gift Wrap does. A rear naked choke is sunk, and it's over.

Aldridge then attends to the dispirited challenger. In short time, he helps him to his feet. Doyle and the challenger bow out and touch hands, and it's over.


The Lesson

Jiu-jitsu is one of the very few martial arts that demonstrably works well. Speaking more broadly, it is a good idea to develop expertise in some form of grappling with ground control, be it BJJ, sambo, MMA, folkstyle, etc. 

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