Sunday, January 17, 2010

Martial arts is self defence

Martial arts is self defence

We all know that fighting in a competition any competition is not the same thing as fighting on the street where your life may be in danger, and we all know that there are McDojo's of every art and style but authentic and geniuine martial arts schools are all about self defence.

In the old days self defence meant being able to take care of yourself not only physically but mentally as well, that is you were mature and responsible enough to know when and where to defend yourself, family or friends from a real threat.

For example if someone who by appearance alone looks like he’s a few bob short and is in no way a physical threat to you or your friends and family suddenly mouthed of at you no matter how much your ego may have been dented in front of your girl friend or mates, obviously you wouldn’t take any action against such a person although you might answer verbally.

If some hero with his smokes tucked inside his t-shirt sleeve singled you out for special attention then you would consider retaliation without too much hesitation.

So then initially most people take up martial arts so they can gain proficiency in a scrap, they are looking for tools that will aid them in a time of need for personal protection.

If the school just so happens to teach morals and ethics along with a good dose of common sense, you could say that most corners are covered as we look at them in today’s modern world.

Now if we go back to that era (the old days) and tell the people that there is a martial arts school that teaches theoretical self protection in detection, avoidance, communication, scenario training, victim selection, adrenal dump etc etc.

I’m sure they would be more than happy to digest such information, but the bottom line will always be about the physical side, if you have no physical techniques in your system chances are they would probably go elsewhere no matter how good your theoretical material is.

Now taking all the above and putting it into today’s modern world, today we have martial artists that practice martial arts and teach self defence to their students telling them that martial arts and self defence are two separate and distinct things.

Some of these martial artists are exceptional athletes and full of terrific information about how and why things go down the way they do in a life and death situation, all valuable to be sure.

BUT good common sense will at least meet this plethora of information half way and even though you’re not an expert in this type of information, good common sense will save you from nearly just as many physical confrontations as absorbing and digesting this type of theoretical information could.

What about physical self defence techniques, at the end of the day these martial artists who practice martial arts and are now telling us that martial arts and self defence are two distinct and separate things still teach self defence techniques from the martial arts in the physical part of their self defence method.

We all know that sometimes no matter how hard you try to avoid a confrontation it will get physical, so these martial artists teach techniques from martial arts for self defence, but they turn around and say that training in martial arts is not training for self defence? Can't work that one out.

I remember in the early years of the martial arts phenomenon that swept the western world thanks to Bruce Lee, many martial arts schools offered short self defence courses/seminars on the side to make ends meet.

These courses were directed at non martial artisits usually coined “Women’s self defence”, “Personal protection”, “Don’t be scared to walk the streets”, "Learn quick self defence" etc. etc.

These types of classes taught you how to stay alive by any means necessary and usually employed what are considered dirty tactics or manouvres that require little drilling to achieve competancy.

Although practicing these technique was a large component of these short course seminars the self defence theme was more about the tactics and strategies employed rather than the techniques themselves.

Some of the self defence themes included improvised weapons, preemptive striking and escape, deception, surprise, yelling, words like fire to get attention etc.etc.

Some of the technqiues were raking and scratching (tiger or bear claws), attacking vital points, groin, eyes, ears, joints, traikia, solar plexus, carotid artery or side of the neck, using palm heel strikes and knife hands instead of punches, use of elbows knees, stomping with high heels, defence against grabs, limbs hair clothes and bear hugs, etc. etc.

These self protection techniques can be found in traditional martial arts

Training in short self defence courses and seminars was geared towards the general public and not martial artists. These courses were generally taught by traditional or eclectic martials art schools back then.

In today’s modern world this type of training (self protection) has become mainstream there is nothing wrong with that, what gets to me is now some of these self protection instructors are claiming they are the custodians of self defence and martial arts and self defence are two different things.

Some of these self protection instructors have studied one, two or more martials arts indepth for a very long time, others have brushed over many different martial arts not studying any indepth gaining superficial knowledge at best and telling us that they know better.

This type of thought process has me dumb founded especially when these self protection instructors teach martial arts techniques for self defence, they will often bring up the subject of achieving a blackbelt in a MA and how it may not be enough for self protection on the street, while I agree that a blackbelt doesn't really mean much on the streets.

Self defence techniques and derivatives come from traditional martial arts.

                      karate                                              judo

                 Aikido                                              Jujitsu

What exactly are these instructors teaching and doing that guarantees enough for street confrontations, after all they are teaching striking and grappling from the martial arts, things that an experienced martial artists should already know since they are training these techniques all the time, being from one or the other and sometimes both diciplines (ie striking and grappling).

Is the physical training in a self protection class any harder than what you might experience in a typical martial arts class, I dont think so, it doesn't come close to getting the anaerobic or aerobic workout that a standard karate class for example gives you. 

What about the psychological element they induce in a self protection class with for example scenario training.

Is this in anyway more realistic than facing someone at your club who is reknowned for not holding his strikes back and would gladly give you a black eye or worse or what about someone at your club who will dump you to the ground with no control, don't tell me these things will not play on your psychy and are not for real.

Some of these self protection instructors talk about adrenaline dump and how it might overcome you and that in martial arts you may not experience such a thing.

The questions I want to ask them is

1. How does their adrenaline dump in (scenario training) compare to competition?
2. How close is scenario training to reality? in percentage terms.
3. Will you be killed or maimed in scenario training?
4. Will you get broken bones and limbs?
5. Will you be rendered unconscious?

Fighting in combative martial arts like karate, judo etc, under certain rules knowing that you will not die and the referee will save you, but also knowing the person in front of you may damage you and there is a possibility of getting dumped on your head or your front teeth knocked out or a broken nose or worse will definetly release an adrenalin dump.

Therefore martial artists do know what it's like to experience an adrenalin dump (on a much higher level in my opinion than scenario training) into the system and keep going.

If training in the martial arts enables you to throw someone on his head or tie him up like a pretzal or sit him on his behind from a punch that means the techniques found within all true martial arts a very transferable to the street and to fighting for your life.

So to say martial arts and self defence are two separate things is incorrect in my opinion, if anything they are interwoven like the fabric of a sweater.

Self defence techniques with Nancy Lanoue 6th dan Seido Karate
Typical self defence tactics taught to non martial artists in short courses

The video above is shown as a typical example of what type of self defence instruction one may find in a good and authentic martial arts school and is the type of material that martial art instructors use to teach in short self defence courses or seminars to the general public or people that aren't martial artists.