I remember once in a class with my teacher Tom Garriga years ago, we were discussing the difference between martial arts systems and martial artists/fighters. Tom said that at an International Martial Arts Tournament in Southern California while he was an Instructor for Ed Parker’s Kempo Karate School he was observing a match while talking with Ed Parker. Tom asked Ed if he thought that Kempo was the best fighting style available. Ed said that he thought that Kempo had at least what other systems had and usually more. Tom then asked: “then why don’t we win every match at every tournament?”
Ed’s answer was that you don’t fight the style, you fight the man. True in a tournament, this principle is even truer in a real fight. Ultimately, you don’t have your teacher there to coach you in a fight, you don’t take anything with you except yourself. This is why we (in the Tang Wei Fighting Method) adhere to the principle of non-classical training and rather focus on developing generic adaptable fighting skills. While there are hundreds of power drills and exercises, in the end all of those have either given you the ability to hit hard enough to destroy targets or not; that is the generic skill. In a fight, you don’t have time to think about how to generate power, you have time to hit them as powerfully as you can according to the habits that you have generated.
With all this said, it points to what training can and cannot do for you. Training cannot give you any valid guarantees for fighting. It cannot be counted on to decide a fight for you. The enemy does not know what belt you are and they don’t care. If they have decided to fight you, they believe they can beat you and they will only be convinced otherwise by your use of effective force to vulnerable target.
If training cannot guarantee victory, what can it do? In short, it gives you superior habits in terms of skill and mindset. Your opponent will not have time to think either and thus it is the man who through whatever medium they have developed them, has the superior habits that will prevail the vast majority of the time. Training either helps you or fails to help you upgrade your fighting instincts. As I said earlier, you only take you with you into a fight, or you could say you only take you and your fighting instincts with you.
Each fight is its own fight. Winning 100 battles prior does not guarantee anything today and losing prior does not doom you to defeat unless you let it. It is what you do at the time confronted, at the time of the fight that determines the fight. Preparation makes performance easier and it gives you a deeper, more readily accessed repertoire of skills to pull from. With all that said, when facing any fight, you still have to win THAS fight, THAT day, against THOSE opponents, so no matter how long you have trained, it still takes a fighter to win a fight.