THE FIRST BATTLE IS AGAINST INCORRECT ASSUMPTIONS.
Being able to defend yourself against an unprovoked attack is, without a doubt, a great skill for a person to acquire and use when needed throughout their everyday life.
However, for the person just beginning their journey to achieve this goal, the path to success is often cluttered with misinformation, widely believed misconceptions and false promises that, unfortunately, lead many to abandon their pursuit altogether. This abrupt ending can have devastating results in the future if they become the target of an aggressive and violent confrontation.
The key to not letting this happen to you lies in both doing your homework—by sifting through the layers of information to find the reality behind the fallacies— and, of course, physically perfecting your skills. The combination of a strong-willed and educated mind and enhanced physical ability will be your answer to those who think you are their victim—one who can be easily bullied and controlled. They will clearly be severely mistaken and, unfortunately for them, they will learn that the hard way!
ANY MARTIAL ART WILL WORK
“Martial arts” and “self-defense” are not synonymous, although many people think this is the case. The fact is that the world of martial arts, in general, is huge and diverse. From prominently promoting philosophy, sport competitions, exercise, fitness and self-defense, martial arts run the gamut of personal benefits that, at times, do complement and contribute to true self-defense and, at other times, are entirely on the far side of the spectrum. Your mission is to dissect the various arts by book or Internet research, watching live classes and asking questions of instructors and participants. This will help narrow your choices regarding which martial arts can directly and effectively be used when your life, or the life of a loved one, is on the line.
BOOKS AND VIDEOS
You can complement your physical training with books and videos … but learn? Not so much. Various media outlets should be used to expand upon the material covered in your self-defense (or martial arts) classes. They are great for more indepth or deeper detail on techniques you recently learned or scenarios you are eager to explore.
Nothing replaces the physical contact you experience by training with real people. The different heights and weights, strength levels, flexibility and speed of movement of your attacker are all needed to fine-tune your techniques; and this is something a book, DVD or Youtube video just can’t provide.
FLASHY TECHNIQUES WON’T WORK
Unlike what you see in movies or on television, many self-defense or martial arts moves are simple, fast and to the point. The flashy, high-flying kicks, constant exchange of punches without true physical damage and the ability to shake off a direct hit from a hard punch—or even a weapon—are not reality. Short, quick techniques are needed to stun your attacker and allow you to get out of the situation quickly.
YOU CAN’T DEFEND AGAINST MULTIPLE ATTACKERS
Not true. Many self-defense styles regularly practice multiple-attacker scenarios, because the odds of you getting attacked by more than one person are actually very high. Groups or small gangs of people feel more powerful if they have backup, and they use this to their advantage when a solo victim is in their sights. Your mission, if confronted by two or more people, is to know the skills needed to evade and escape, rather than thinking you can “take out” the entire attacking crowd as if you’re the hero of a 1980s action movie. Many martial art schools and self-defense classes teach the proper way to move about the crowd and even use the extra attackers to your advantage.
The key to surviving a multiple attacker situation is to always stay mobile, keep all attackers constantly in your view and continuously look for your first opportunity to escape.
STRENGTH ALWAYS WINS OUT
No; an attacker with superior strength doesn’t automatically mean defeat for you. A muscle-bound attacker, although intimidating at first, can be neutralized. But you first need to understand why certain techniques work against a stronger foe and learn how to counter their strength with your speed and mobility, smart-striking (striking vital areas, including the eyes, nose, throat, groin, etc., which cannot be toughened from regular weight training) and joint manipulation to the point that their own strength will be used against them.
YOU CANNOT FORESEE AN ATTACK BEFORE IT HAPPENS, BUT YOU CAN REDUCE YOUR CHANCES OF BECOMING A TARGET … BY FOLLOWING SOME VERY SIMPLE AND FUNDAMENTAL PRECAUTIONS.
SMALLER PEOPLE ARE AT A DISADVANTAGE
Like the superior strength fallacy mentioned earlier, the physical size of a person isn’t in direct proportion to their skill level or ability. People with smaller frames or a less-muscular build can overcome larger opponents. The solution lies in both practicing applicable techniques and consciously making an effort to work with larger opponents during your class sessions.
As proficiency increases, the intimidation factor that, “he is too big” will fade, and a larger opponent will become just an “opponent.” Techniques taught to destroy a bigger person’s foundation, such as lowerbody strikes, sweeps, knee stomps, etc., will aid in cutting a larger opponent down to size!
YOU CAN’T PREVENT BEING A RANDOM TARGET
You cannot foresee an attack before it happens, but you can reduce your chances of becoming a target in the first place by following some very simple and fundamental precautions:
• First, always walk with confidence and purpose. Scan your immediate path and send a signal to those intent on targeting you that you will not be an easy hit. On the contrary—people oblivious to the world around them while chatting away on their phones or distracted by a stress-filled day are prey waiting to be pounced upon. • Second, walk in groups of two or more. People walking alone pose less of a risk to an attacker, thereby making them a prime target.
• Finally, if something doesn’t “feel” right, it probably isn’t. Listen to your inner voice (in nature, it’s called “instinct”), and don’t continue on your present course. Fighting your natural instincts with logic or your emotional heart will only get you hurt … or worse.
THE COMBINATION OF A STRONGWILLED AND EDUCATED MIND AND ENHANCED PHYSICAL ABILITY WILL BE YOUR ANSWER TO THOSE WHO THINK YOU ARE THEIR VICTIM— ONE WHO CAN BE EASILY BULLIED AND CONTROLLED.
CARRYING A WEAPON ALWAYS HELPS
Carrying a weapon will help—but only if you know how to properly use it and how to keep it out of the hands of your attacker. More often than not, people fall into a false sense of security because they carry mace or pepper spray on their keychains or have a knife or small baton
in their back pocket. These are all very good self-defense items, but they are useful only if you know how to quickly access them prior to an attack and how to use them with sufficient skill so they are not a hindrance while defending yourself.
As with any tool or weapon, regular practice is a necessity to become comfortable wielding it when it matters. Everything—the initial draw, the application and the finish— should all be smooth and flawless. Only then does carrying a weapon become a smart and practical idea.
... THE PHYSICAL SIZE OF A PERSON ISN’T IN DIRECT PROPORTION TO THEIR SKILL LEVEL OR ABILITY. PEOPLE WITH SMALLER FRAMES OR A LESS-MUSCULAR BUILD CAN OVERCOME LARGER OPPONENTS.
GYM CLASSES ARE GREAT RESOURCES
Don’t confuse cardio-kickboxing with true boxing or kickboxing. Sweating while punching a bag and shooting out kicks to an invisible target is not self-defense training. It does work your cardio, which is always a good thing, but it isn’t going to save your life when or if you are attacked.
Furthermore, a one-time seminar or special class that teaches women’s self-defense is great to introduce life-saving skills. However, the students won’t retain or be able to effectively emulate the techniques shown after only one exposure. Consistent training (at least two days a week is the unofficial norm) is required to become proficient and able to naturally perform the techniques.
YOU CAN ESCAPE UNHURT
It would be great to say you can escape unharmed, but unfortunately, most times, this isn’t the case. It might sound strange, but it’s in your best interest to always expect to take a hit or two (or worse) during a physical conflict. The shock of getting hit, if never experienced before, will cause you to freeze, grab your affected area and put yourself at risk by not giving your full attention to neutralizing the attack.
This mentality can also be put into practice during your training sessions. When you miscalculate and a punch or kick makes contact with your face or stomach, for instance (and it will happen quite a number of times), ignore it, shake it off, and don’t stop your counter-offensive.
h Left: Use of high kicks to your opponent’s head or body usually isn’t practical in true life-or-death defensive situations. (Photo: Bigstock)
Above: Kickboxing, while great for endurance and striking practice, doesn’t offer true self-defense scenario training. (Photo: Bigstock)
A stun gun device can get the job done, but placing the “shock” is not always an easy task to perform under stress. (Photo: Bigstock)
Direct defensive techniques such as knee strikes are easily learned and simple to practice. (Photo: Bigstock)
In an attack, men usually grab or hold women to control them. Studying similar scenarios with bigger, stronger opponents in class helps to “feel” what really happens during an aggressive attack. (Photo: Bigstock)
Below right: Pepper spray can aid in self-defense, but having it inhand and ready to shoot is crucial to defending yourself from an attacker. (Photo: Bigstock)
Overcome larger opponents by striking vital areas of the body and applying quick and effective joint-locking techniques. (Photo: Michael D’angona)
Trust your gut—not your heart or mind—when something just doesn’t feel right. (Photo: Bigstock)
Don’t confuse “sport” martial arts with practical self-defense. It can get you severely hurt ... or killed. (Photo: Bigstock)
Some martial arts, such as some types of Kung fu, emphasize form and graceful movements over practical self-defense skills. (Photo: Bigstock)