Friday, April 7, 2017

Not all combat is the same for self defense!

One of the biggest misconceptions people have about self defense is assuming all or some forms of combat are the same. Instructors in traditional martial arts, MMA, police and military training, combat sports, etc. seem to lump one or all together in one category and call it self defense. This is not the reality. Not all forms of combat are equally much less best suited for self defense. Each form of combat was made for a specific purpose so the mindset and training will be built upon a specific goal. They are similar but not the same. I will go through several forms of combat and explain how they are different from self defense with educational videos.

* Traditional Martial arts - As I mentioned before in my blog post "why martial arts does not mean self defense" (, martial arts' styles were created to suit the needs of a particular generation in time for many reasons (health and fitness, self defense, war, dance, etc.) Ninjutsu for example was designed to help ninjas complete their missions involving espionage and evasion of the enemy. They would use weapons such as katanas to engage their attackers. Other martial arts like Kendo aren't even used for self defense or any fighting. They are used more for building moral character via. Bushido. You will train in katas or "forms ", ancient techniques, weapons, hand to hand combat, etc. in the martial arts world. You might have to invest years in training to perfect your skills.

How is this different from more practical self defense? In the 21st century, alot has changed since the time of its creation. Alot of things that worked back then are now obsolete in the modern world. If you tried to use a katana on an unarmed attacker now, you will run into alot of problems with the law. Modern self defense addresses modern problems. No one will attack you with bo staffs, butterfly knives, katanas, and other ancient weapons that traditional martial arts train you in. No one is going to realistically throw everything in one punch as seen in martial arts demonstrations. Your not going to be able to magically know when you will be attacked. Your attackers will use modern weapons with modern day approaches. Much of the combat shown in traditional martial arts are done for the sake of the art or it's original purpose, not to defend yourself in the modern world.

* Combat sports - Some martial arts like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai were designed for sport. Modern martial arts in the form of MMA train it's practitioners in multiple traditional martial arts within striking, kicking, and grappling ranges. The goal is to either cause an opponent to tap out or get knocked out. There are weight divisions, verbal taunts, rules, sportsmanship, alot of time to prepare, championships, alot of room to fight in the ring, judges, the list goes on.

The problem? The sports mindset is different from the world of self defense. In the real world, you risk breaking your fists in a street fight if you punch incorrectly or solid bone thus reducing your chances of effectively dealing with the next threat. That's why you see MMA fighters and sport based martial artists spar with gloves. The other issue is that you are training to fight someone on a similar skill level when it comes to sport. There's no weapons, no multiple attackers, no dirty fighting, no disadvantages in size, and no one trying to kill you in the ring. On the streets, there are no rules. Effective self defense should prepare you to respond to any situation. There's no "fighting fair" when your defending yourself. In fact, there shouldn't be any fighting at all. Your not going to survive every situation if you treat each one as a fist fight.Your goal should be to end the threat as quickly as possible by putting your attacker at a disadvantage usually through two ways 1) Incapacitation 2) Taking away mobility with or without the use of weapons. For example, if i'm faced with an attacker throwing punches and i have a sweater in one hand then i'm going to throw it in his face. This will provide a distraction for me to land a kick to the groin and another kick to knock him or off balance then run away. If i don't fight dirty then it's skill against skill and if my attacker is more skilled than me, i'm probably going to get hurt or killed. Even if schools in combat sports claim to teach self defense, they most likely won't teach you how to fight dirty or how to use weapons to end the threat quickly.

* Street-fighting - This is like sport except it's a consensual agreement for both parties to fight although there's no assurance that it will be fair. If your attacker hates the fact that you won a fist fight, he or she can shoot you dead in anger and humiliation as shown in this video example. Once you agree to meet someone for a street fight, you are no longer acting in self defense. In self defense, you should attempt to defuse your aggressor or avoid these situations all together for your safety.

* Combat in law enforcement - Military officials will train in hand-to-hand combat (such as martial arts) and weapons to kill or capture the enemy as quickly as possible. The police's main goal is to use weapons and hand-to-hand combat to subdue criminals. They are armed with an arsenal of weapons (handcuffs, guns, tasers, batons, pepper spray, the list goes on.) They are allowed to kill someone if that person has proven to be too great of a threat. Their greatest strength is teamwork and spend alot of time honing their skills together.

How is this different from self defense? You don't have the same advantages and authority as law enforcement does in self defense. Furthermore, your aim isn't to kill unless there is no other way to stop an attacker intending on killing you and you can justify it in court.

In conclusion, you have to know what your purpose is in self defense and abide by a process. You have to know how to make combat systems effective for you in self defense. I'm not confident that many people learning self defense understand the dynamics of real world violence because they are confused. The best thing you can do is understand the different types of combat to avoid confusion and learn how to defend yourself better.

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