Practical Self-Defense

Martial Arts can improve your fitness, your confidence and your physical capabilities to name just a few potential benefits – but they are not perfect, and when it comes to using them in real-world situations there are some very important things you should bear in mind.

  1. Many martial arts can distract you with information and preconceptions that can become useless or dangerous in a self-defense scenario. This includes (but is not limited to):
    • Moves that are designed for scoring in competition.
    • Techniques that are only effective when you are extremely proficient in your martial art.
    • Flashy techniques that may impress an audience but could leave you exposed or off-balance.
    • Codes of ‘honour’ or ‘respect’ that whilst admirable and useful in competition or the Dojang, put you at a serious disadvantage against a determined attacker on the street.
    • Attacks or blocks that are only effective if your body is extremely conditioned.
    • Ideals of the ‘perfect warrior’ (e.g. Samurai code) or ego which discourage you from backing down or running away – ‘loosing face’.
  2. Having spent years training, achieving high ranks and grades, or performing well at competitions may grant you a false sense of confidence (and/or the false expectation that you will feel confident when in a self-defense situation)
  3. Real life is not like the movies (especially Martial Arts/Action movies)! The good guys don’t always come out on top, fights don’t tend to last for 5 minutes, and the bad guys won’t miss all the time! Likewise, injuries will occur quickly and be more debilitating than portrayed in extended fight scenes.
  4. Unless you are accustomed to ‘scrapping’ or brawling, a serious fight will not be an experience you can easily replicate or be prepared for, no matter how much you ‘wax-on, wax-off’, stare down the mirror or spar against your fellow students in the safety of a class. The chances are you will feel unprepared, and adrenaline will make it difficult to think clearly or override your natural (unfortunately often insufficient) self-preservation instincts. For this reason it is better to have a small repetiore of easy self-defense techniques that you are familiar with and can utilise without having to think too much, than to be able to perform a wide range of advanced techniques against a static opponent or punch bag only.

I am hoping that this blog will help you to identify your own weaknesses and compensate for them, teach you some effective techniques, and address some of the points I raised above. Best-case scenario, you won’t ever need to defend yourself or others from a serious attack – but in the event you do, reading this blog will leave you better prepared.

Stay safe!

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One Response to Practical Self-Defense

  1. derekWwyatt says:

    It’s important for Martial Arts schools to stress both the art and self defense side of things. Thank you for writing this blog post, there are too many schools out there who just teach competition style, leaving their students unprepared to defend themselves if the opportunity ever presents itself.

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