That’s right, gents! It’s time for another post on learning to defend you and your family. If you haven’t read the previous entries, I strongly encourage you read them as well (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). Each lesson we cover can be applied to any style you train in and is also relevant to self-defense. Never forget what is at stake every time you walk out your front door either alone or with your family. It is with that sobering thought in mind that should propel your training to the next level. Your family depends on you as their first and primary means of defense. Everything else should come secondary.
I’ve both attended and taught at many different martial art schools over the years and am routinely disappointed at the lack of thought that goes into many instructors’ conditioning regimens for their students. Most either don’t put enough emphasis on physical conditioning or approach it the wrong way.
To understand how you should train your body, you must understand the individual attributes of a fight. Most fights are not a long slog where aerobic endurance becomes a critical issue.
Rather, most encounters are short, explosive, and vicious, typically lasting for only a few seconds. With that in mind, you should tailor your training accordingly. Focus on strength, power, and speed as opposed to aerobic endurance. This isn’t to say aerobic endurance is worthless, but your primary focus should be on the former attributes. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, but your best bet is to employ multiple approaches from the list below:
- Lifting weights (multiple rep ranges for power, hypertrophy, and anaerobic endurance)
- Speed bag and heavy bag work
As you’re training, keep in mind how this benefits your goals. If you can’t find how a training regimen gets you closer to your end goal, it might be time to reconsider either tweaking it or completely scrapping it for a curriculum that’s more relevant.
Self-Perfection vs Self-Preservation
This is a bit of a tricky pair of concepts to cover as there are many gray areas and overlap, so bear with me.
Self-Perfection, in regards to martial arts training, refers to any drills that improve specific attributes, be it speed, reflexes, strength, technique, etc.
Self-Preservation drills however are focused primarily on what works for you in a real self-defense encounter.
A good example is kicking a shield target held by a stationary partner versus a sparring match where anything goes. While kicking a shield is good for improving your technique and power (self-perfection), it doesn’t translate over to a real life fight very well.
On the flip side, a sparring match where anything goes is much more applicable as you’re having to attack, defend, anticipate, react, and strategize on the move.
Given this explanation, some of you might be asking why someone would even bother with self-perfection drills since self-preservation drills are much closer to the real thing. It’s a question I myself have wrestled with on more than one occasion, but it finally clicked when I applied this to a different scenario; the Highland Games. Actually practicing the events is critical to performing well, but you won’t even be able to lift, let alone toss the caber if you’re not hitting the gym regularly and building some strength and power.
The same applies to martial arts. Take the time to learn proper body mechanics, technique, etc before stepping up across someone. It’s damn near impossible trying to master this stuff when you’re too busy trying not to get punched in the face. After your match, take time to note areas that need improvement and take that back to your self-perfection drills.
Everyday Carry (EDC)
J. Nyx has already covered the importance of having a EDC/Bug Out Bag in your vehicle, but what are you carrying on you throughout the day? If you’re like most guys, it’s probably your keys, wallet, and cell phone, none of which will provide much assistance if you’re in an emergency.
If you can, I would highly recommend carrying a folding knife with you as part of your EDC. To maximize its potential utility, get one made for car emergencies. These knives will include the blade, a seat belt cutter, and a punch for breaking out windows.
If carrying a knife is too much of a legal risk or is not allowed at your work, you might still be able to get away with a quality multi-tool. This won’t work for a quick response situation, like an attack, but can still be incredibly useful.
What emergencies might you encounter throughout the day?
What will you need to respond to these emergencies?
Adjust your EDC accordingly.
Other useful items that can be quickly turned into makeshift weapons are canes, umbrellas, keys, and rolled up magazines.
Being able to successfully defend yourself requires being mentally present and aware, the ability to accurately read situations, and the capacity to either inflict brutal damage onto your assailant(s) or to successfully flee from them to a safer area. If you are with your family, it might even be a combination of the two as you fight off the attackers while your family runs to safety.
Too often, self-defense videos, books, and classes focus on just the techniques while glossing over the mental aspect of being in a fight. They go on teaching you some nonsense about how a palm strike to the nose will render a grown man incapacitated while completely overlooking the fact that if you get pulled into a violent encounter, your body will probably freeze up. They neglect the mental and emotional aspects of a fight – the most important part.
If you find an instructor who does teach you how to act even while under extreme stress, he is a keeper.
Leave your thoughts and comments down below. I really enjoy talking about martial arts (if it isn’t obvious), if you have any questions pertaining to martial arts/self-defense that you’d like me to answer, please put them down in the comments section and I’ll address them in upcoming posts.