Writing a post on self defence is bound to open up a massive can of worms with people chipping in from those who have experienced real world violence, all the way to the ever present keyboard warrior calling themselves an expert in self defence. This post won’t focus on the perfect technique to defend against a big haymaker, or the best way to escape being choked. We’ll look at one simple tip – leave if you can. Sounds simple right…
Violence is chaotic and as a result of this it is unpredictable and ever changing meaning:
It can come from nowhere
Things can seem calm until, out of the blue they aren’t any more. You take a second to process and the fear and adrenaline kick in and it could all be over by then. That split second could mean someone is lying down unconscious after being sucker punched and the attacker is maybe being held back by a few people? Sound a familiar situation? I’ve certainly seen this before!
There’s no time limit for self defence
Like the scenario above, fights can be over in a split second, one punch and it’s done. Alternatively, a fight can take one minute, 5 minutes or even 10 minutes or longer. There is no way of knowing.
Violence is not a static thing. You could think you’re out of harms way one second, then BAM, the fight has come to you and you are forced to take action. I’ve seen this happen on numerous dance floors where for a minute you think you’re out of the way then suddenly you’re being pushed into the bar and people are fighting around you! Not nice!
Bystanders aren’t always out of the firing line
As in the situation previously, you may not even be the one fighting, yet before you know it you’re in the middle of a group that are and as a result, taking a few shots yourself. If you’re near a fight, you’re at risk. I remember my housemate at University being sucker punched just due to the fact we were too close to a fight and we got inadvertantly dragged in.
Even if the fight is over, you’re not necessarily safe
A fight can end but then just as quickly start up again with the wrong comment or look, especially if the loser is trying to get even!
This all makes sense right? yet as soon as a fight breaks out, people rush to it like 14 year olds at a Harry Styles sighting, or David Cameron at a pig farm. People take out their phones to record the fight, later uploading it to social media for the world to see. We like watching extreme situations, the Jeremy Kyle Show is testament to that, even if it puts us at risk. We can also learn new behaviours however, and that’s why sometimes the simplest advice can be to simply leave the situation if possible, rather than going in for a cheeky look!
Today we have a fantastic guest post from a good friend of mine with a rich history in Martial Arts. Declan Lestat runs Aikido Shugyokan in Minnesota as well as holding black belts in Kung Fu & Kickboxing and is a JKD instructor. Here he writes a great article on why exactly we train in martial arts! Hope you enjoy!
Let me ask you a question. It’s a question that, if you’ve been in the martial arts for any period of time, you’ve probably been asked or pondered over countless times.
Why do you train in the martial arts?
You may have more than one answer, maybe it changes over time (Like mine does). Maybe your answer is vague and only you would really get it. Maybe you don’t even know.
Here’s another question, this one a bit tougher but quicker to answer.
Why do I train in the martial arts?
Maybe I train for street fighting. Maybe I want to compete. Maybe I’m of an age and level of experience where I don’t need to train formally in self defense so I attend classes for other reasons like fitness, stress relief, interest in other cultures. Maybe I want to make friends. Maybe I’ve been training so long it’s just a habit now. There’s even a chance I train because *gasp* It’s fun!
I know exactly why I train, but the point is that anybody else – obviously – couldn’t possibly have a clue. And of course, I don’t really know why you train. I could maybe guess, but I don’t know for sure.
The other day, somebody I’d never met and didn’t know and never had any contact with before or since, commented on a video I shared: “Aikido is ineffective. For self defense learn wrestling.”
Like I’d asked him.
But to be fair, he’s far from unique. Post anything on Facebook or click on any clip on YouTube and you’ll find similar comments, though many not as polite. The comments are usually from people who don’t understand what they’re even watching, thinking chi sau or randori are being presented as actual examples of “street effective” technique and not as what they actually are – exercises. They’re no more street effective as push ups or squats, but no less important. And don’t get me started on the morons who rant about a clips obviously filmed for entertainment or demonstration purposes.
Still, my critic made a major mistake in assuming that a: The clip was supposed to represent a self defense technique (It wasn’t), b: That I don’t know what does and doesn’t “work” in the street, and c: That I train for the same reasons as he does.
But from the point of view of a practitioner of, say, MMA, Aikido is indeed ineffective. I know this, because many of their proponents aren’t too shy about telling you this on YouTube. Unfortunately for them, I don’t train Aikido for self defense. I train in Aikido for personal growth reasons. Thanks to Aikido, I have greater respect for all people (Which is why I held back on responding to this guy’s comments), humility, empathy, mindfulness, self control… So when I look at an MMA champion like Conor McGregor, I’d have to say MMA is ineffective.
But then again, what is “Street effective”? 2 minutes on YouTube will reveal thousands of clips to make you think. I found one of a BJJ guy taking down a boxer, but just when I was thinking I should train BJJ for self defense, I found another clip of a boxer defeating a BJJ guy. One of my best friends has had precisely zero martial arts training and I’ve never seen him lose a fight (And I’ve witness many!) so maybe we’re all wasting our time.
Then again, growing up in, at the time one of the most violent cities in Europe, working private security, managing city center pubs, and sheer bad luck had given me the chance to experience a lot of nasty situations close up. And even though I have multiple black belts and decades of training, on the relatively few occasions when I was too unlucky/stupid to control a confrontation enough to prevent it becoming physical, guess which system has kept me safe? Guess which martial art has put down the bad guy for me every time?
Aikido. And here’s me saying I don’t train in Aikido for self defense!
So is Aikido effective then? I wouldn’t say that. I would say that on those occasions when I had to defend myself I did so successfully, and that’s all I could say. If I’d used boxing or Muay Thai or Judo, the same would apply. It’s not the style that was effective. It was the fighter. More accurately, it was the fighter on those specific occasions. Was I just lucky? Don’t care. Could I defend myself successfully again? Possibly. Would I use Aikido again? Couldn’t say. Every situation is different. I could beat Mike Tyson tomorrow, walk around the corner and get mugged by a 14 year old. There’s not many things in the world as random and unpredictable as a street fight, after all.
This doesn’t apply to the obvious charlatans, of course. If someone posts a “Street lethal self defense techniques” comprising of ballroom dancing, then you may be inclined to offer a correction if you have the expertise. That’s a stated promise that fails to deliver.
We may not like what someone trains in but here’s the good news for us: Our approval isn’t required. To criticize an art or practitioner for nothing more than it doesn’t meet your personal training objectives isn’t worthy of a martial artist of any style. Minds are not changed with ridicule or fault finding, nobody has ever said “Wow, I totally thought I was training traditional Karate to be a lethal Jason Bourne style street assassin. The last 15 years have been a complete waste of time, I’m heading straight down to my local Gracie academy to sort my life out!” thanks to some chump on YouTube who probably doesn’t train seriously in any style, let alone a “street effective” one.
But together, with support and a little understanding, we may not change minds but we can maybe broaden minds on both sides of the debate. I think the reality and sport based arts could have a lot to learn from the more traditional arts as well as vice versa.
And a little unity in our community has to be a good thing.
Hello people! Sorry for the delays in posting but it’s been a pretty busy few weeks with one thing and another! Time for a new post though and today we are looking at the `No Lie Blades`, a wicked piece of kit designed to test you skills with a knife and show just how hard it is to defend one!
The `no lie blade` was kindly provided by Anton St James of the Master’s Academy in Plymouth. I ordered it on the Wednesday and it arrived on the Thursday – how’s that for customer service?! The blade itself comes in two editions – single sided or double sided. I received the double edged knife packaged nicely with 4 lipstick like markers used to mark the felt edging of the knife to see where you’ve been stabbed and slashed…. play time!
Knife crime is becoming an ever increasing problem in society if we look at the media. Every day we seem to see a new story about a child bringing a knife to school, or someone getting stabbed after an argument occurs. Therefore for anyone looking at realistic self defence training, knife training is definitely an area of study. This being said, one YouTube search of knife defence will show you just how much is out there in terms of ideas and principles of knife defence – some good, some bad. I’ve never and hope never to be involved in a knife fight and so have no experience of what would realistically work. This is where the `no lie blade` adds an element of realism in to your training, allowing you to see exactly where you get slashed and stabbed as you try to defend. The blade is a realistic size and weight and the grips fits comfortably in the hand allowing for fast slashes and thrusts and a realistic training session. The lipstick dye is easy to apply and clearly shows where you’ve been slashed. For someone who has very limited training in knife defence, it was certainly a wake up call and eye opener…. I died…. a lot! The knife is tough enough to withstand some pretty heavy damage as I tried breaking it after we played to see how tough it was to no avail, but not so much so that it properly hurts when you get slashed and stabbed.
For those looking to add an element of realism in to their knife defence and self defence training I would highly recommend the `no lie blade` for its simplicity and ease of use. It will add a new dimension of realism to your training and improve your knife defence skills simply through experimentation of when you get slashed and when you don’t. Overall, an awesome piece of kit that I highly recommend! NLB courses also run throughout the year which I have heard only good things about! Contact Anton St James on Facebook or www.martialartsplymouth.co.uk for more information on the `no lie blade` and go to www.trainingknives.net for the `no lie blade` official site!