What does self defence mean to you?

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What does self defence mean to you?!

Self defence is a minefield. The Martial View website could easily be dedicated just to self defence as there is just so much to discuss, talk about and ponder! People have different ideas of self defence, some are based on their own personal experience, and some are based on what they’ve been told/taught. I think all self defence viewpoints are valid but there is often a misconception that martial arts = self defence, and in my opinion this simply isn’t the case. The frankly redundant argument about which style is best in a real life situation is prevalent in the martial arts world, with some arguing, for example, Karate is the best form of self defence, others Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, some Jeet Kune Do. For me martial arts are exactly that, martial arts, not self defence. They can overlap sometimes and knowing some form of combat art definitely isn’t going to hurt in a real life altercation, but isn’t the be all and end all of self defence. So I ask, what is self defence to you?

I’ve luckily had few experiences where I’ve had to use physical violence to end a confrontation, but it has happened, yet I still prefer to avoid a potential situation wherever possible and this to me is true self defence. If you’ve been in situations which could clearly have ended in a punch up, but managed to either spot the danger before it arose, or managed to talk your way out of it, to me, this is the best example of self defence. It shouldn’t be flashy or clever, it should be direct, straightforward and easy to grasp. I’ve heard arguments that the best form of self defence to learn is MMA and although I see where people are coming from in this argument I disagree. To be proficient in MMA, as with any contact sport, takes years. Self defence should be effective in a matter of hours. Sure you can learn to strike, kick, takedown etc, but do you have to learn MMA to do that? A few hours learning simple avoidance/awareness, de-escalation techniques and some simple physical skills that rely on gross motor skills such as palm strikes, elbows and slaps are way more effective in my opinion and aren’t particularly technical or difficult to grasp. Self defence should be as efficient and effective as possible.

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Flashy wrist locks, shoulder throws and arm bars simply won’t work in a real confrontation unless you are either very lucky or very skilled as adrenaline and an un-cooperative opponent will make even the simpliest of wrist locks very difficult to adminster in a situation where you are really likely to get hurt. Do they work on a drunk guy who’s a bit annoying and simply needs to be told to get lost. Yes, I’ve used them before and they’ve worked a treat. Will they work against someone barreling in really meaning to cause you some harm? Probably not. In this case, nasty as it sounds you have to meet violence with violence and do everything you can to get out the situation and so elbow strikes, palm strikes, biting, shredding and kicking are far more realistic.

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I love learning about self defence and want to learn all I can on it from as many people as I can, as so many people have different ideas of what it entails. To me personally it should be as simple and easy to retain as possible. You should know your legal rights in relation to self defence, and understand the physiological and psychological changes that will takes place during confrontation. Finally avoidance and awareness is of paramount importance and the foundation for self defence, above the physical techniques and strategies. So what are your thoughts?

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