I am constantly asked by folks about which super cool, overly marketed combative/500 year martial art/ reality based fighting system is BEST for ‘self-defense.This time the questions was posed as seeking ‘good self-defense material’ through a particular style.
Here is perhaps the most concise answer to why that is not only the wrong question, but why that question is actually meaningless.***************OK, let’s start with the fact you are NOT going to learn ‘good self-defense material’ in a martial arts class.
That’s because self-defense is a legal term. It is intertwined with varying degrees of use of force, threat assessment, self-control, articulation, legal nuances and pitfalls, and knowing the limits between self-defense and self-offense (defending oneself vs. attacking). It’s all that thinky crap you have to know and understand unless you want your dick in a blender for using your physical training.
Effective physical movement and application? Yeah. Really important. Learning the mechanics of how to punch is good. But knowing WHEN to punch is critical. That’s because the exact same punch can be self-defense, assault or manslaughter — depending on when it is thrown and what happens.
Knowing how to fight under adrenal stress? Yep, that’s important. But a big-assed part of being able to ‘function’ under adrenal stress is knowing how to stay calm and under control when someone is trying to light you up. Even more important is being able to grab control back from your adrenalized self and STOP physical action. (Otherwise you cross from self-defense into assault or murder).
Knowing the application of — and being able to do — physical techniques are really important. Knowing when it is time to do a puter kepala (a neck breaking move) vs. when a fast slap to the groin will do what you need is even more important. Yeah, it’s cool to know the urban commando shit, but it’s even more important to know what has been pulled out to make it safe (for sport). And how– if someone is coming at you to take your ass out — you do NOT want to use watered-down, sports techniques. Because odds are against it stopping him in time. Ohhhh you busted his jaw … he rammed a knife in your guts — and your jaw break wrenched it around inside of you causing more damage.
Knowing how to ‘fight’ can be a useful skill. Knowing how a criminal — who is not interested in fighting at all — operates to achieve his goals is a life saver. This especially because ‘his’ tactics are designed to lessen your ability to resist, much less fight. When you are set up like that, trying to ‘fight’ is an invitation to disaster. Odds are good that he’s going to nail you the second he sees you thinking about ‘fighting him.’ This is especially true if you start working your way through the Monkey Dance to get to the point you can allow yourself to fight.
The ability to assess the danger of a situation and entirely skip ‘fighting’ and go into bone-breaking, throat-crushing violence is NOT going to be developed in a place where they’re selling fighting AS self-defense. And even if the stuff wasn’t watered down, learning an uber, bone-breaking combative system without equal time spent in learning when to apply it and how not to overreact is a recipe for disaster. Yet both of these are what is being sold as ‘self-defense’ — as are traditional martial arts systems that have lost their mechanics.
I cannot tell you how many times I have walked into all of these places and encountered the old hitch ‘n’ sniff * while they content they are ‘experts’ on teaching you self-defense. They may know whatever it is they are teaching pretty damned well — and they may be extremely physically competent at it — but it is NOT self-defense. It is whatever they do. They’re calling it self-defense because that is the socially acceptable excuse for whatever they’re doing. It’s an even better way to get your money by selling you something that isn’t self-defense as SD.So go ahead and learn whatever physical system that appeals to you, but know that it isn’t ‘self-defense.’
It is only one component in a far, far bigger and more complex issue. Self-defense is a lot more than just punching, kicking and rolling around on the ground. Knowing good self-defense material means going to a lot of different sources other than those claiming they are teaching it, but are only focusing on the physical.