Category self defence
In any unsolicited violent or aggressive event our primary aim is to remove ourselves (and others if we feel responsible for them) from danger of bodily harm. The aim is not to ‘win a fight’ for this is not consensual violence; in most cases therefore (excluding for example threats on the doorstep of our own property) we are endeavouring to create an exit.
To escape from a situation we need space to run/barge or walk through, created by the absence or inability/disinclination of prior threats to engage or stop us.
As most martial arts clubs advertise themselves as teaching self defence, and only deliver physical training, is the end result that most people who start training with a martial arts club don’t really get what they need? Rather than improving their ability to avoid or deescalate situations they end up with fighting skills of varying quality and efficacy? Does this make people less safe?
The other day a respected friend of mine made an observation about the number of clubs, particularly the pyjama dancers (as I call them), advertising that they were teaching self defence, when at best all they were doing was giving their students fighting skills.
In the UK the recent release of crime statistics indicating a marked rise in the percentage of both moped related robberies (both of the vehicle and using the vehicle as a means of facilitating crimes) and acid attacks have caught the attention of the media.
There are lots of ways to train the martial arts, and many different and differently weighted reasons to do so. There is a danger however that through misguided training weighting choices, we may actually be hindering the skill development either of ourselves or of our students or worse, reducing it.
We all build the mental worlds in which we live, and we don’t all live in the same world, even if we believe we do.
Most martial artists build their personal training worlds on the backs of four elephants, elephants that I like to think of as the Fantastic Four (though admittedly some don’t even see or recognise all of them). These elephants that hold up our individual training worlds are Legality, Training Practicality, Training Viability, and Underpinning Psychology.
The loss of life and terrible injuries that occurred in the low-tech vehicle and knife attacks in London earlier this month shocked many across the world.
There are many unspoken taboos when it comes to discussing events such as this, and there are many things that armchair warriors say that should be dismissed.
It is in my Sim Days where my students experience the broader context of the tactical, ethical and legal repercussions of aggression and violence through simulating how they might respond to events in multiple scenarios, whether on their own, with peers, and with children (or adults).
These are training events that comprise elements that test a participant’s response, but also give them training in more optimal approaches and multiple opportunities to learn from what they and others have experienced throughout the day.
On Saturday, under my supervision, four teenage boys (aged 13-14) experienced a fake abduction. This was a single scenario in a multi faceted training day for both adults and teenagers. While this is a very rare event, it is perhaps one feared the most by parents, and so we wanted to see what we could learn from replicating an example.
Martial arts training can comprise aspects of self defence, but unless the art has been specifically devised for that purpose recently, it isn’t the same thing.