Firstly I am writing this article from a view of teaching and training in a background of traditional martial arts and also reality based self defence. All traditional martial arts have many benefits which we all generally know about, being that it could be focus, respect, fitness, resolve, self defence and friendships being forged and being your whole way of life.
However, some of these martial arts are advertised solely on the self defence factor, and I want to make the comparison of what is judged as self defence or personal protection. We are constantly bombarded with social media on the old question and topic, whats best? My art is better than your art? mine is used in MMA , Batman does mine so it must be good. My system is better than your self defence system and so on. I find these types of arguments, and being honest thats exactly what they are most of the time, immature and completely negative and never arriving at a conclusion or even agreement of sorts, so I just do not get enthralled with them.
Firstly, its not the art, its the person, if it works for you and you enjoy it, fantastic! Right, good, now I can move swiftly on. So what is reality based self defence?
My early Krav Maga training brought this into my mind even though I had been training Wing Chun for many years, that no matter how good you are, or even think you are, if you are not aware of your surroundings and only concentrating on one attacker for too long you will get hurt, usually by one of their mates who has sneaked up on you or came from nowhere! Also were knife defences taught anything like what happens on the street?
I started to think more about the self protection aspects or the soft skills, i.e. awareness, avoidance, detection, deescalation, escaping, mindset and common sense that you do not get taught in most traditional martial arts classes, the one on one competition based ones especially. What about hard skills? Well theres the conundrum, the more skill you have, fine motor skills do not work under extreme stress……..unless you train years for it right? Look at a professional boxing match, very skilful at the beginning, but fatigued and stressed gross motor movements gradually replace the fine motor skills.
Ring based sports do get you used to adrenaline in their own way though, does this help in a real situation if someones coming at you with a knife?
My view is that it could, but would training that scenario help more?
Do you train some sort of ground survival, multiple attackers, against most weapons, with totallynon compliancy?
Does your training take into account that no matter how many scenario’s you train for, theres so many different variables to constantly try and train them?
Rather than just concentrating on different scenario’s, does your training work towards achieving common objectives no matter the scenario? is it easy to learn, train and retain?
Does your system constantly change with the times, being updated, borrowing what works from
other systems or arts, is not ego based, and ready to deal with whats thrown at you?
Well here’s my take on it, the longer I have trained in martial arts the more similarities i see in them rather than differences, you only have one head, two arms and two legs, its about understanding body mechanics and movement! Its also about knowing that no matter how real you think you train, its nothing as bad as the real
thing, and can only maybe prepare you mentally to deal with the fear you will feel when either you do not understand the information suddenly coming in or you cant control it, this is where training soft skills does come in, and can help you to be able to maybe “squeeze the Freeze” and act either by fight or flight. Training of course helps, no doubt about it, but it does not turn you into Superman, that is overconfidence and can get you killed.
So my conclusion is that I do not know all of the answers, thats for you to think about, this is purely about my thoughts on self defence and how its shaped the way i train and teach today, how to keep an open mind to different idea’s, concepts, train with different people, different organisations, pressure test as much as you can and be honest with yourself as an instructor and your students.