Martial Arts or Self Defense?
Recently my wife and I were out to dinner sitting in a restaurant
and immediately our ears perked up when the women sitting behind
us started talking about self defense.
Considering my wife and I have close to a half century of experience
in the martial arts and are both self defense instructors, we
find it very interesting and sometimes very amusing to hear lay
people talking about it.
The women were apparently talking about street self defense and
the best approach to learning it. One women seemed to be 'sure'
the best thing they could do was to attend a self defense seminar
that was being held at a local YMCA. The other was talking about
a friend that teaches Tae Kwon Do at a local dojang.
I didn't know what started the conversation or what their immediate
concerns were but it seemed it was important for them to learn
self defense and get up to speed quickly.
They also considered another martial arts school that I believe
was some kind of karate studio. The two women seemed to speak
interchangeably about martial arts and self defense, as if they
were one and the same.
I am not putting down martial arts. No, not by any means. I make
my living teaching martial arts (traditional karate). But it takes
years to learn enough at a typical martial arts school to even
begin to learn self defense that would be effective on the street.
In fact, in many schools they would never learn much of anything
that would help them if they were brutally attacked.
Many adults sign up for martial arts classes with the intent
and expectation of learning self defense. I am all for martial
arts but for different reasons. Martial arts can help someone
improve their self esteem, develop self discipline, increase their
self confidence, help get them and keep them in shape. Will it
help them defend themselves? Well again, maybe?
Maybe after many years of hard training. Maybe if they are in
a school that teaches effective self defense techniques. Maybe
if the program adds some reality training. Maybe if the student
learns to deal with the inevitable adrenal rush. Maybe?
Perhaps if the goal is self defense, then there are other, quicker,
easier paths to this end. See Street
Self Defense 101.
Shihan Michael Pace