“Practice hard and get use to the contact because you can’t block everything.”
Often lauded in training forty years ago, arduous training with plenty of bumps and bruises is not as vogue as it used to be. Body Contact Theory (BCT) emphasizes hard practice, getting use to physical contact and the occasional bruise. For real self-defense applications, it is a necessary training theory. But what is the benefit of all that discomfort?
You must condition your body to the contact experienced in a real fight. Getting hit and hitting something hard are very unusual sensations. When you are unfamiliar with such things, your body will freeze or stall as you attempt to comprehend what’s going on. You need to hit and get hit to ignore those things. Your focus for combat or self-defense situations is attack and defense – not how your knuckles hurt or the new bruise on your face hurts. Deal with those emotions later when it is safe.
Second, you must know that you can’t block everything. A punch or kick will get through your defenses and hit you. The better you are, the fewer times you’ll get hit but you will always get hit. Usually, it is the first hit the sucker punch. As martial artists, we don’t start fights but we do end them. You know you’re in a fight when someone hits you.
Third, you must overcome the contact, the pain, and ignore it. Keep pushing on in the fight. Yes, you hit the ground rather hard but that doesn’t matter. The fight matters. Fights only last a few seconds and you can’t spare them for unproductive whining. Stay focused on the matters at hand.
Also, hard contact is a great teacher. When you block and miss, the following hit will teach you to block better next time. Your body has a natural aversion to getting hit and you can use that to teach yourself martial arts. After a few blows to the head, your body will put the technique into muscle memory quicker. It needs to because it doesn’t like to get hit.
Finally, you’ll surprise yourself one day when a big thug hits you square on and you only scoff. You’ll realize that you’ve been hit harder before in class. Or you’ve hit the floor harder in the dojo. All your training pays off at the most critical times of your life, when you’re defending yourself.
Remember that you must gradually introduce your self to this theory. White belts need to avoid contact until they develop the skills to absorb and deal with it. Intermediate ranks begin to experience that contact in a limited way. By Brown Belt, there should be a lot of body (and ground) contact. Like all things in training, one step at a time leads to your goal.