Can you flick the switch from martial arts to self defence?

Can you flick the switch from martial arts to self defence?

A question I get asked by a lot of people is can you use martial arts effectively for self defence?

Let’s look at why some people would think like this. Some say that when you get the adrenalin dump when faced with a real fight scenario or assault you forget all the training you have had and then primal instincts take over e.g. running, fighting wildly or freezing.

For me we have to look at the topic as a whole, the type of martial art you do and is it functional or fit for the purpose of self defence, it’s great to study the sword but you cannot carry a shinken (live forged blade) or even a training one around with you on the streets.

Would you defend yourself on the street the same as if you were participating in a karate competition or doing a few training stick drills?

Martial arts contains many good things, it will give you confidence, fitness (some cases), the drive and will to succeed in the face of adversity, it promotes camaraderie, it will teach you respect for yourself, the people you train with and respect for the place you train at as it is the centre of learning new life skills and attributes.

Defending yourself on the street however and doing martial arts are two different things you just have to understand each aspect clearly and the mind set and approach needed for each and the purpose of each topic.

The idea behind martial arts in today’s society is primarily for self improvement and the development of character although it has a side bar of self defence elements which we all understand and applaud.

Surviving a vicious attack or an assault on the street is a different thing to doing martial arts in a Dojo. Your mindset has to change over from training mode to survival mode. It’s quite different doing some elaborate lock flow drills with a compliant partner to dealing with 5 drunken guys attacking you with bottles and knifes outside a bar late at night and I am not averse to running very fast in the opposite direction. (I hope this does not mean I will get a sponsorship from Nike and they send me lots of trainers 😉

So why then can we not make martial arts training more realistic? Simple there are safety issues and a duty of care considerations. Unless you have been through the real experience of being attacked by the 5 drunken guys with bottles and knife how would you know you could defend yourself? The first time it happens and you survive you start to look at things very differently.

Does that then mean we have to make our training as real as possible, yes of course we do, but we still have to go to work the next day and earn a living, so turning up to work with broken fingers if you are a dentist or work with your hands for a job may not be the best way forward. Turning up with black eyes does not bode too well if you work on the friendly customer service section in a store/shop. The other element is in my experience most students would not want to go through this type of training even though it may save their life one day, so you are then left with just a few hard core students and not much of a martial arts club and a bill for cleaning the blood off the floor and curtains.

There is a school of thought that I can subscribe to is that prevention is better than cure, don’t put yourself in a dangerous situation where you are more likely to be attacked such as going through the graveyard late at night to taking a short cut that may seem a good idea after a few drinks but in the cold light of day there are far better options Taxi, lifts with friends, different well lighted routes even if they do take longer to get home etc.

Nobody has the ultimate defence and it does not matter who they are or what system they practice it does not exist, in the media now there are people teaching the ultimate self defence against knife welding terrorists. Let me repeat again there is no ultimate system or style of martial arts for self defence it does not exist. Why? Because there are too many circumstances beyond one’s control such as how desperate does the person or persons want to attack you is it for drug money or are they high on drugs or drunk or both?

Are you feeling well and in good health, if you have been up for the last three nights with not much sleep due to a new baby in the family and you just had an argument with your wife/husband or you just had to bury your mum you may not be on top of your game at that particular time of attack?

How well have you been trained and have you had the right kind of street self defence training? I would include things like voice de-escalation, boundaries, triggers, study of the most common assaults, study of an attacker’s mentality and thought process, signs of danger etc. Then of course there is the training of striking the attackers weak spots with the maximum force and efficiency and you have to be as brutal as necessary to stop him/them.

Normally in a fight or assault the one who punches/attacks first has the upper hand as then the victim is already playing catch up and just reacting and thinking of defence so momentarily they are behind and may not recover the situation if subsequent blows and strikes are then used.

Please note that you do not have to wait to be assaulted, hit or grabbed before you can defend yourself if you genuinely believe your life is threatened and or is in danger, you can strike out at someone and take the appropriate action to ensure your safety and a favourable self defence outcome.

Pre-emptive strikes are permitted in law and this will ensure that you stay ahead of the situation and not just reacting to it and getting hurt while you are thinking of a defence.

Most people are not even aware of their surroundings when they go out on the street as they are so engrossed in their phone heads down walking and bumping into objects and people that they don’t even consider the self defence aspect as they are too busy on Face book liking a dog on a skateboard wearing a hat and smoking a cigar. If you have been singled out by an attacker/s you won’t get much warning as his/their aim is to complete the objective of hurting you, stealing from you or raping you, it is likely that you have been selected because you are deemed an easy target E.g. not paying attention, their weapon is to surprise you and overwhelm you very quickly so the number one rule is Awareness.

Awareness of your surroundings

Awareness of the people approaching you and around you

Awareness of the objects in the vicinity that you can use to aid your self defence

Awareness of the exits or possible escape routes

Awareness!!! Awareness!!! Awareness!!!

Stay safe and ’’Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6’’