Hello loyal readers. I thought today I would write an article about a subject that is something that has been playing on my mind for sometime. This topic in question is about gaining experience in effective Martial Arts and training for Self Defence.
Most people who begin their martial art journey, don't really put much effort in choosing the right martial for them based on their current requirements. They simply walk into their local dojo or dojang and sign on the dotted line. Most often these schools are either Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Ninjitsu or Aikido schools. Now I am not saying these styles are totally useless, as I had spent 7 years training at my local Karate School however most people who begin a martial art want to train for Self Defence.
However, in a metaphorical sense I like to mention this quote. "If I told you that the horse and cart was the most efficient form of transport, as opposed to a Concord Jet you would clearly think I have lost the plot!" Even near the end of the American Civil War in 1865 soldiers from both the North and South were using rifles against each other compared to muskets which were first used at the beginning of the campaign in 1861.
These muskets were not accurate and did not have a long range. The musket had a smooth barrel which used a round lead ball as ammunition. When fired the lead ball would bounce around inside the barrel. This resulted in very inaccurate results.
The reason soldiers lined up shoulder to shoulder in the Revolutionary War was because muskets needed to be used in a massed volley in order to have any chance of actually hitting anything.
After the Civil War had begun arsenals began mass producing rifles instead of the old smooth-bore muskets.Rifles were a far superior weapon in every way. They had grooves in the barrel that gripped ammunition tightly which put a spin on the bullet allowing for deadly accurate and long range fire.
With the new rifle came a new bullet. Gone was the round led ball. In it’s place was a bullet that resembles today’s modern bullets. Fast forward to today, rifles are still a readily available weapon and the most widely use and recognised rifle is the AK-47 a Russian assault rifle first created in 1949.
Even after almost seven decades, the model and its variants remain the most popular and widely used assault rifles in the world because of their substantial reliability under harsh conditions, low production costs compared to contemporary Western weapons, availability in virtually every geographic region and ease of use for even the most amateur of riflemen.
Coming back to the example of Traditional Martial Arts, they are equivalent to the smooth-bore musket and how that today these arts have become a threatened species. We are no longer living in feudal Japan and no longer have Samurai wandering the streets. We live in dangerous times and it is important that you discern the difference between a sport based martial art such as Tae Kwon Do, or a Traditional style such as Karate or Aikido. You must pick a style that meets your requirements and ideally simple to learn and most importantly is effective in times of duress.
These traditional systems are not as effective in terms of self defence however if you break down the "Bungkai" or in Layman's terms the "Disassembly of a Kata" does have elements of self defence incorporated in it, but most opponents you will face today are unlikely to fight in this manner. I have found a video of Karate Bungkai, that has been poorly performed and without intensity. Please watch it below.
Please remember that in a real self defence situation, be aware of the following points:
It is unlikely the person you are fighting against would be trained, and in your style.
Traditional Karate practitioners ttend to stand in a particular stance and fight the way they have been taught.
Your attacker is likely to be aggressive, under the influence of drugs or alcohol and will be resistant to staying in the one spot for a prolonged period.
You also have to realise that opponent would be attacking you with some form of intensity. This video shows they are training without much force in a very relaxed and calm demeanour. This can be harmful to train in this way for self defence as there is no intensity within the exchange. You must train as you intend to fight.
This video featured below shows an example of how you should train. In this video I feature my former mentor who instructed me in the art of CQC, Peter Sciarra of Intergrated Combat Systems. Peter was my mentor for 6 years and taught me everything I know about Practical Self Defence. I am grateful I continued to learn from him, as like Glenn Zwiers he was totally focused on implementing realism in our training. From the very beginning of our training we train as we intend to fight and that is with force, intensity and speed.
Notice how students practice realistic fight scenarios and wear Hockey Masks to practice realistic striking to the face. This simulated training sets you up and prepares you for a real altercation. Please watch the video below to see the vast difference in this training method compared to the above video.
I feel that whilst practicing slowly in the confines of the dojo whilst learning techniques for the first time and getting a feel for them is alright in the beginning, you must get out of this habit once you have learnt the technique as you are setting yourself up for failure. You must then train as you fight, because in a real situation if you trained like this, you are likely to mirror this in a fight. Notice how Peter trains the students in a more dynamic fashion and acclimatises them to fight by using force, compared to the instructor in the first video showing little to no effort in his demonstrations.
You need to as a practitioner practice taking punches, kicks and blows to the body as well as falling to the ground as well as wrestling and grappling should the fight end up there. This level of preparation should help you simulate what a real fight will look like. It is important how to deal with external factors such as environment, lighting and even number of combatants. We also practiced drills involving multiple opponents as these days you are more likely to be attacked by more then one person.
Watch the following video from Tony Jaa's "The Protector" and see how a fight takes place. Notice how the opponents are coming in from all angles and are fighting with much intensity. Bear in mind there is a choreographed movie scene and it isn unlikely you will be faced with 50 able bodied opponents, but what this video demonstrates is the ferocity and speed in which real fighting encompasses. Here are some key point to remember when fighting more then one opponent:
You must use your peripheral vision when fighting more then one opponent.
NEVER turn your back on the others as they can attack you with a weapon from behind or apply a choke or headlock.
Focus on creating distance and diminish the closest attacker first.
Use your environment where possible (Notice that Tony broke an opponent's legs by throwing him into a water fountain.) If there are objects that you can use to shield yourself or use against the opponent use it to your advantage.
If you are in a situation and cannot get out of it FIGHT LIKE HELL to survive. You must do this to survive the encounter.
Don't worry about performing flashy techniques. For example, doing a Jumping Spinning Heel Kick is great for fitness and practice on the pads, but in a real situation will be difficult to execute because of the adrenaline flowing through you. It is likely the technique will fail and leave you compromised and vulnerable to attack.
However if you are highly skilled like Tony Jaa you can use more advanced techniques, but keep them to a minimum. Focus on the basic techniques you have drilled repeatedly and APPLY with FORCE and INTENSITY.
These are just some fundamental tips to apply, and the key piece of advice I can give you is not to fight more then one opponent if possible. Working in security, I was often threatened by delinquent teenagers of both sexes and often was challenged to fight, whilst working at the shopping centre. I often would call for back up should things turn ugly and we would work as a team to remove them from the premises. Avoidance is critical to survival.
It is important to use you awareness and communication skills to prevent a fight from occuring even though you may lose face. Sometimes you must ask yourself is it worth being injured or killed merely to prove a point. A close family friend once told me this. "Any mug can get himself into a fight, but it takes a wise man to walk away from one." This advice came from a retired soldier and crowd controller who was a massive influence on me growing up, and to this day I live by this advice.
Even though I am highly trained I do what I can to prevent a fight from occuring. But, if push came to shove and I had no choice but to engage then and only then would I say that violence is the answer. Self Defence expert Tim Larkin has recently released a book called 'When Violence is the Answer' and you can purchase a copy by clicking on thie title link. I wanted to thank Tim Larkin for giving me his permission to share his content on my site and I hope that you found this post informative when choosing the right martial art.