Are We Teaching Self-Defense?
Most teachers think if they are teaching a martial
art, such as karate, kung fu, aikido or judo, their
students are learning self-defense. But are they?
This can be a dangerous assumption. Ninety-nine percent
of self-defense has nothing to do with the techniques
learned in most schools. This is mental self defense
and having a plan.
This involves learning how the minimize potential
for attack. You have to learn to look at your home,
workplace, where you walk, how you enter your car,
carry a handbag, etc., with a critical eye -- thinking
of potential dangers and planning strategies to avoid
them. It also means knowing what to do, and how to
react, just in case.
Mental self-defense requires an alert and aware mind
-- alert to potential signs of danger and knowing
how to avoid situations before they develop, or how
to best deal with situations if they do occur. Again
little of this involves actual martial arts technique.
They are a last resort. Often assertiveness in speech,
walking or hand actions can forestall a situation,
or dissuade an aggressor from further action.
What is more, much of what is being taught in martial
arts classes does not always serve the students well
if students are actually physically confronted or
attacked. Stories abound about black belts not being
able to defend themselves, or worse getting killed
trying because techniques don't work. They often just
don't know how to react or what to do. Others are
just overwhelmed with the intensity, or shock, of
So, what are you teaching? If you are offering self-defense
in your school you have a responsibility to your students
to teach mental self-defense and planning too. You
should also be sure that your students know how to
defend against realistic and powerful attacks. And
if you have joined a school to learn self-defense,
be sure of what you are getting. If it is just learning
techniques of an art, understand its limitations.
Be sure you know what to do against a powerful aggressor
-- if grabbed, pushed, or if they attempt to hit you.
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