Yeah, that’s not how combat works. When you’re entering a fight you need
to have a plan to end it. This isn’t optional, or something that can happen
someday when your opponent gets bored. You need to have a concrete way to end
Hoping your opponent will get bored and wander off does not qualify.
Dodging all attacks 99% of the time is simply hoping your opponent will get
bored with this. In practical terms, this will
get you killed.
When I say you need a way to end the fight, I don’t mean you need to kill
your opponent. That’s not the issue at all. There are plenty of ways to end a
fight while doing limited harm to your opponent.
Creating an opening to run away is a legitimate way out. This is the focus
of actual some actual self defense training. You’ll strike your opponent in
ways designed to stun or debilitate them, and allow you to escape. For some
people, simply running away is a viable option. Dancing around your opponent’s
strikes is not.
You have a limited amount of stamina. You can engage in strenuous activity
for a limited amount of time before you need to catch your breath. Getting
exhausted in the middle of a fight is a very bad situation. It will get you
killed. To be fair, it’s not like a video game where you’d empty a meter and suddenly
stagger. As you become more fatigued you’ll slow down and your movements will
become less precise.
If you’ve ever engaged in any moderately intense cardio exercise, even just
sprinting, you’ve experienced this first hand. The shortness of breath, heart
pounding, the fatigue, the desire to simply fall over and let the world end?
Yeah, constantly dodging will do that to you, fairly quickly, and that’s before your opponent can lay a hand on
The problem is, it takes far more energy to jump out of the way of your
opponent’s fist, than it takes to throw a punch. All things being (roughly)
equal, you will wear yourself out faster, trying to avoid (or parry) incoming
strikes than your opponent who is simply trying to turn you into chunky salsa.
This creates an inevitable situation: sooner or later, you’re going to start
getting hit, and once that happens, it will snowball fast.
Playing defense exclusively is not an option. You will wear yourself out,
and get killed.
There is also another serious problem with an overdependence on dodging.
Feinting strikes are where you’ll direct a false attack, and then follow with
an actual strike elsewhere. If an opponent realizes you’re simply trying to
step out of the way of their attacks, it becomes very easy to fake you out,
then deliver a strike while you’re dodging, off balance, and committed to the
action by inertia. Of course, this gets progressively easier, as you wear
yourself out, and your opponent realizes this is all you’re doing.
There is a role for dodges and parries in hand to hand, these are designed
to set up counterattacks. You’ll dodge out of the way of a strike because it
allows you to move into a position where you can retaliate, usually past their
guard. Parries frequently work off similar ideas, though you’re usually punishing
the attack by creating an opening in their defense. I’m being vague here
because there are a lot of different potential uses for these, but the
important takeaway is, dodging is about finding and exploiting weaknesses your opponent,
it is not simply getting out of the way.
This is part of why we say, when it comes to self defense, you cannot fuck
around. The goal is to get with as few injuries as possible. That means keeping
the fight as short as possible, creating an opening, and getting out before you
find yourself at the mercy of someone who wants to do you serious harm. You
need a way to end the fight. If your opponent can still stand when you’re done
an ethical decision, but you need to have a way to finish it.
Self defense martial arts like Judo and Aikido have methods of ending the
fight. They’re not simply about being 99% defensive. Aikido is an excellent
example of what I said about parries and dodges. Skilled practitioners will
avoid incoming strike, then use their opponent’s momentum to throw them to the
ground. In a practical situation, this creates an opening for the martial
artist to escape while their opponent has to spend time getting back up. It may
look like the martial art is simply about staying out of your opponent’s grasp,
but the practitioner has a wide variety of ways to end the fight, without
inflicting undue harm.
Relevant to your original question: With highly defensive martial arts it’s difficult
to spar against another practitioner. Sparing involves learning to deal with
your opponent’s attacks and defenses. If your martial art has no real offensive
options, then you’ll need to have something to spar against or find yourself
ill prepared for dealing with opponents who practice more aggressive styles.
You can actually see hints of this in Aikido demonstrations, or the entirety of
Steven Seagal’s film career. It’s a martial art that just does not go on