Years before The Ultimate Fighter and pay-per-view MMA specials, talk-show host Jerry Springer pioneered “reality” fighting entertainment.
While Jerry Springer’s talk show environment is obviously somewhat contrived, his guests’ fighting technique is in other respects spontaneous and natural. So how do the lessons taught in the average martial arts dojo compare to combat performances on Jerry Springer?
Dojo Fantasy: There are no rules in a real fight.
Jerry Springer Reality: Violence is a form of communication.
Analysis: Most animals naturally distinguish between fighting and killing. The purpose of fighting is not to maim or kill the opponent, but to establish a social hierarchy. Understanding this distinction is crucial for successful self-defense.
Jerry’s guests know they are playing a game: they pull their punches, and sometimes even smile and laugh during one of their pre-arranged scuffles. This is not to say such grudge matches are completely safe; however, failing to honor the unspoken rules of limited engagement can result in severe punishment, from the other principals, the crowd of observers, and society at large.
Dojo Fantasy: A fight consists of a series of offensive and defensive techniques, executed in turn.
Jerry Springer Reality: Everybody attacks, all at once.
Analysis: The best defense is to attack the opponent’s potential, whereas the worst defense is to resist the opponent’s attack. In this respect, Jerry’s brawlers show more intelligence than the average dojo strategist.
You rarely see guests attempt to block a punch or kick. Instead, they tend to stand far enough away that blows cannot reach them, while waiting for an opportune time to rush in for a clinch. While inside, they manhandle each other for a few seconds, waiting for the bodyguards break it up. Finally, they repeat the entire sequence again, and then go to commercial break.
Dojo Fantasy: A fight starts and ends with two participants.
Jerry Springer Reality: If you stand (or lay) still for even one moment, you will be surrounded, and you will be finished.
Analysis: Despite the constant guests’ constant squabbling, serious injuries appear to be rare. This must be in part due to the show’s large and ever-present security team.
After the producers encourage and facilitate each fight, the security team is expected to allow it, and then stop to it before it gets too ugly. And at this task, they are remarkably effective. Two or three security guards surround each of the freak show fighters, and pull them apart.
The take-away lesson is that you should never walk down the street without a team of security guards. If you can’t hire a bodyguard service, do the next best thing, and never allow yourself to be surrounded by hostile strangers.
My Final Thought
When a fight breaks out on stage, Jerry Springer can always be found standing safely in the audience section. Jerry has mastered the classic rule of self-preservation: ninety percent of success is not showing up.