Eye gouges, groin strikes, bites, scratches, throat strikes, hair pulling: why “fighting dirty” is not enough in reality

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Groin strikes, eye gouges, and other “dirty” street fighting techniques are often overestimated in their effectiveness, and are not reliable substitutes for fundamental fighting skills.

The key issue with these techniques is that they rely on pain to influence behavior, rather than directly incapacitating or controlling an opponent. Real fighting scenarios (see videos) show that people can endure severe injuries, including serious maiming, and still continue to fight. This resilience is especially true when the stakes are high.

Gaining a controlling position increases the effectiveness of any technique, including those banned in sports. Without a dominant position, attempts at “dirty” tactics are more likely to fail.

Consideration must also be given to what happens when these tactics fail. In a fight, once a certain level of violence is introduced, it can be reciprocated, potentially leading to more severe consequences.

Real-life examples illustrate these points. Fighters have continued to compete even after sustaining significant injuries like broken limbs or blindness. The effectiveness of these tactics is unpredictable and can vary greatly depending on the situation and the individuals involved.

While “dirty” techniques can be part of a fighting strategy, they are not reliable or decisive. Effective fighting requires a combination of skills, including striking, grappling, and a strategic approach to positioning and control. Simply relying on pain-inducing tactics is insufficient for real combat scenarios.

Here we have a man arguing with police, and he throws a knee to the groin. You can see the officer’s hips move back as the energy from the strike transfers to his body. The officer responds with a punch which knocks the man unconscious. This is a stark illustration of the difference between doing something that simply hurts a lot, and something that takes away your capacity to fight completely.
A jeweller is stabbed and attempts to stop the attacker by using groin strikes and eye gouges, which have no effect. Neither man is able to clearly dominate the fight before the stabber eventually gives up and walks away.
This man entered an MMA gym and challenged them to a fight. When he gets caught in a guillotine choke, he attempts to eye gouge his opponent, who continues to choke the man unconscious.
In Japan 1995, 5’7 Yuki Nakai fought 6’5 Gerard Gordeau in an MMA bout. Gerard illegally eye gouged Yuki, which left him permanently blind in his right eye. Yuki continued to fight with one eye, and won by heel hook in the fourth round. He never let officials know that he’d been blinded.
Full fight where a man’s ear is bitten off, and the biter loses by submission when he is unable to escape from a bad position, demonstrating the importance of basic grappling skills no matter the rule set.
A man’s lower lip is bitten off in a street fight; however, by the end of the video he is keen to continue fighting, while it is the biter who walks away.
Man has his ear bitten off in a street fight and does not stop – by the end of the video he is in a dominant position and continues to fight without issue.
A man who is allegedly a pedophile according to onlookers, attempts to bite and eye gouge while underneath the mount of his opponent, which fails. His opponent – the man in a controlling position – eye gouges and blinds the other man, demonstrating the importance of positional control no matter what rules of lack thereof.
Two men are fighting on the ground, one has his eye gouged out – however, he continued to fight and at the end of the video, he is in a controlling position and is now gouging the eyes of the other man.
Multiple unanswered strikes to the groin which appear to have no effect
Source of video thumbnail – by MMA photographer Esther Lin
“After the fight, Werdum said the poke didn’t hurt or affect him – and even if it had hurt, he might have lied to the ringside physician and said he was fine out of concern the bout would be stopped. Werdum, who won a unanimous decision, says he thinks some fighters embellish the severity of a poke to get out of the fight and that offends him to some degree.”

https://www.espn.com.au/mma/story/_/id/27850706/danger-mma-problem-eye-pokes

The limits of pain compliance

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Pain compliance is quite literally the use of pain as a method to achieve compliance, and discourage resistance and aggressive behaviour. It’s an integral part of any police use of force continuum policies. However, its effectiveness varies greatly depending on the individual’s pain tolerance, mental state, and the intensity of the situation.

Individuals under the influence of drugs, experiencing a mental health crisis, or in a state of excited delirium might not respond as expected to pain compliance techniques. Adrenaline and other physiological factors can significantly diminish pain perception, leading to less effectiveness in gaining compliance and potentially escalating the situation to more extreme uses of force.

Pain compliance is not a substitute for physical control. It should not be seen as a primary strategy but rather a part of a broader set of tactics aimed at safely controlling and detaining individuals.

It’s crucial for law enforcement to have a clear objective when employing pain compliance and to be prepared to shift tactics if it’s not effective.

Continuous application of pain without gaining control can be perceived as excessive and lead to public scrutiny and distrust. In extreme cases, it can lead to serious injury and death, particularly when the subject is of poor health.

Training, skills, fitness and teamwork are the only answer.

The public’s perception of pain compliance is increasingly critical. With widespread access to information and a growing emphasis on police accountability, the use of force is under more scrutiny than ever. Law enforcement agencies need to ensure their personnel are well-trained in a variety of techniques, understand the implications of their actions, and are capable of making judicious decisions in the heat of the moment.

In conclusion, while pain compliance can be a part of law enforcement’s toolkit, it should be used judiciously and in conjunction with other tactics aimed at safely and efficiently resolving confrontations. Continuous training, public engagement, and a commitment to ethical practices are vital in maintaining public trust and ensuring the safety of both officers and those they serve.

Dutch security guard stops armed attack with strikes

At a supermarket in the Netherlands, a 34-year-old man was removed from the store by security for attempting to steal a bottle of alcohol. He returned and attacked guard with a broken bottle neck, resulting in injuries to both. The man was arrested and hospitalised overnight, so he obviously came out of the ordeal in far worse shape then the guard.

He faces charges of attempted manslaughter or serious assault and will appear in court on February 14 2024.

The actions of the guard were considered self-defense.

Dutch article covering the incident here.

Although not a knife, a piece of glass can cause serious or potentially fatal injuries. There’s certainly the risk of losing an eye, the way this man was attempting to slash at the guard.

The response of the guard demonstrates how effective distance management, footwork and striking can be against edged weapons. These are not the typical wrist-grabby techniques we often see taught by “self defense” instructors, but fundamental methods from empirically developed styles such as Muay Thai and wrestling.

This could easily have resulted in the guard suffering far more serious injuries had there been an inch or two of difference, and I have shared these scenarios on the site before.

My point here is NOT that learning a martial art will guarantee success, however:

  1. The chance of surviving an attack from someone armed with an edged weapon increases the greater the difference in skill/size/strength/etc.
  2. The methods we see working in reality are consistently the same fundamentals we observe in other fights, including combat sports.

German police use wrist locks on protester

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The German police have employed wrist locks on a protester, promising to release him if he stands and walks. However, the protester is engaging in passive resistance; he’s neither attacking nor attempting to flee, but simply refusing to comply by staying down and using his body weight to resist. Despite the intense pain from the double wrist lock, the man remains unfazed and has even wet his pants, likely from being in the situation for an extended period. His commitment to his cause appears to outweigh any physical discomfort.

This scenario highlights the limitations of pain compliance techniques, which aim to induce compliance through inflicted pain. Such methods can be ineffective against individuals who are either highly committed or in an emotionally heightened state, as they may choose to endure the pain. The police could have opted for dragging the protester away, achieving the same result without causing pain. This suggests that a more effective approach for law enforcement would be to focus on mastering basic, fundamental grappling skills rather than relying solely on pain compliance techniques.

The Norway Incident: Cop charged with assault after failing to control on the ground

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Bystanders and the court of public opinion

The failure of wristlocks and armbar takedowns

News coverage of the incident from Norway:

On October 30, Kevin Simensen, a 26-year-old man, was subjected to violence by the police. Initially, no one believed his account, but new surveillance footage has emerged that supports his claims.

The footage shows a police officer in his 30s repeatedly striking Simensen outside a gas station in Kongsberg. This video has gained significant attention recently. TV2 has also obtained another video that shows what happened immediately after the first surveillance footage. Simensen believes this second video was taken after he was pepper-sprayed and before his friend Kristian was hit with a baton.

Due to the surveillance footage, the case has taken a turn. The officer has been charged with violence and gross negligence in the line of duty. The police chief, Ole Sæverud, stated that the charged officer has not been in active duty since the video came to light.

Both Simensen and his friend Kristian Teigen appreciate the media attention the case is getting. They believe it’s crucial for people to realize that such incidents do happen in Norway. Teigen also mentioned that the police deleted some of the footage they had initially captured.

Simensen, who has been dealing with PTSD since the incident, is slowly reintegrating into society. He had previously served with NATO in the Mediterranean for six months.

The officer’s lawyer, Gry Schrøder Berger, stated that the video doesn’t show the entire sequence of events and that her client is currently struggling emotionally.

The case is now pending court evaluation.

https://www.tv2.no/nyheter/innenriks/ny-video-av-politivolden-foler-meg-makteslos/15697249/

The Buskerud District Court ruled that the officer’s use of force against Kevin Simensen was lawful. The officer had been accused of gross bodily harm after forcibly restraining Simensen, who was pepper-sprayed and hit multiple times with both a baton and a fist.

The ruling was not unanimous; one of the judges dissented, arguing that the officer’s actions were not in line with the police law’s guidelines on the use of force. The court’s majority opinion emphasized that Simensen did not cease resisting arrest and that the officer had little time to consider alternative actions.

The Special Unit for Police Affairs, which had been prosecuting the case, stated that they would review the court’s reasoning before deciding on whether to appeal. Kevin Simensen and his legal team expressed disappointment with the verdict, stating that it could further erode public trust in the legal system.

Ole Sæverud, the Police Chief in Kongsberg, has not yet commented on whether the acquitted officer will return to duty. He mentioned that the officer is currently suspended and that they would need to thoroughly review the verdict before making any decisions.

https://www.tv2.no/nyheter/innenriks/politimann-frikjent-i-kongsberg-saken/15877423/