This seems to be such a hot topic at the moment we as instructors who are involved in the knife arts are having to deal with all the Sadness, panic, hype and concerns that surrounds us in the news and by media headlines like, “Another teenager killed stabbed at school” or “Family man killed by frenzied Knifeman over parking space” or “50% of youths carry knifes and 20% say they would use them” and so on. First of all may we say a prayer for all the families who have lost loved ones and hope their pain will ease over time, even as a parent I could not even begin to know the pain they are going through.
What do we do about the problem of teaching or what I like to call education of the knife arts without the general public thinking we are a bunch of crazed lunatics teaching people how to kill at the drop of a hat?
We have several dilemmas and questions to ponder as instructors and martial artists,
The first is should we be teaching knife arts at all when reflecting upon this present climate? At what age should we say someone is responsible to learn? I teach a lot of teenager’s martial arts, should they learn knife concepts bearing in mind that a lot of the knife crime is committed by them? Who then regulates what is being taught and to who?
In the end I think its better to make an educated decision and choice rather than just being caught up in all the hype and panic and then just doing the ban everything with the nanny state mentality that we have today. Does it make it better to ban things? Should we educate them? That depends on the quality of instructors we have and how they are portraying the information.
I made a decision to educate teenagers and adults about the dangers of the knife and the respect you should have for people and all things which is one of the key fundamental elements when learning any martial art. One of the surprising overtones when talking to teenagers in schools and at various venues was how blasé and desensitized they were when talking about the knife crime, There seemed to be a stick it in them before they do it to you attitude and it was normal to carry and use one, even after showing them some shocking pictures of what the knife could do in the form of people who had been attacked there seemed to be an attitude from them of its no more than I see on the computer or games that they play at home, the girls were a little more shocked but only a little, I did not want to do the pork joint wrapped in jeans demo to show how easy it is to be cut straight through clothing and into the veins and arteries for the fear of the kids thinking it was cool and then wanting to replicate it. Can it really be that morals and behavior of today are governed by computer games, trash tv and that old favorite we have nothing to do, I remember not so long ago a boy being murdered by his friends acting out things from the computer game Manhunt, where you hunt people down and kill them in different ways axe, knife, strangled, drowned and this is for leisure time and relaxation then we wonder why the kids have no respect for one another or any human life!!!
This is all our responsibility, I would rather teach some form of knife awareness/ defense / avoidance to the teenagers in my class or adults as they say for warned is for armed and God forbid that they need to use the information given, but if that one thing taught to them helps them save their life then should we not do it? This is not to say we teach them knife techniques to injure another but rather how to deal with knife confrontations and the dangers of the knife use and the moral impact it has on society, after all if we have kids that are willing to stab you for a gummy bear don’t we have a duty to protect the decent kids from these types? From a martial art instructor point of view I know all of the kids in my class well and their families and in a lot of cases the parents go to the adult classes as well, if I had any doubt about any of them misusing the valuable training they are given I would not hesitate to exclude them from the club and then circulate a letter to everyone explaining the exact reason and why their behavior was not acceptable so there is no misunderstanding by anyone.
Generally I find that any teenager who comes to your club is usually well balanced to be able to go though the rigors of any martial art discipline, the bowing, lining up in order, practicing the same techniques over and over again to perfection, the exhaustion, over coming the self, dealing with your limitations, pushing themselves to the full, respecting and training with their partners or and having fun!! These things bring quality to your life and an understanding of what respect is and what can be achieved with help and guidance.
The trouble makers and kids with bad attitudes never last unless they change their way of thinking which is quite often the case or they leave and take the easy way out. Which is why they carry a knife or hang around in groups waiting for that one victim?
These days if you try to do something you are wrong, if we do nothing we are wrong,
On a personal note I would still teach teenagers knife self defense / avoidance/awareness for most part I know the ones I teach are sound or they would not be able to put up with the discipline and me driving them towards their own goals and personal victories.
One thing I have learnt from personal experience is when dealing with a knife you will always get cut just how bad and if you survive at all depends on so many things which I don’t have time to go into now. A massive factor is your awareness and perception of what’s going on before the attack happens. This I will cover in another blog.
Stay safe and train well
‘‘Cherish what you have been given and pass it down to those who will value it as much as you.’’