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.
- 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’.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.