Wednesday, 9 October 2013

What the hell is Self Defence?

Self defence is a term I always struggled with. It made me think of old ladies in a church hall learning how to get out of a wrist grab.  I like the term fighting system, but then that has connotations that we are all about fighting and violence.  We could call it reality based martial arts, but maybe we should just go with the term staying safe. 

A lot of the public think they need some form of "safety" training but are unsure what it entails, the end results will be and the hard work and time they need to put in to get the desired result.  It's the same with the fitness industry. People think coming to one class a week and training will yield the results of a professional athlete.  Some training is always better than none of course, but it's a slow process of trying to give people a reality check.  We've been teaching in Edinburgh now for about eight years and have reached out to thousands of people via classes and workshops.  People still come through that door and are still not really sure what to expect or what they can get from Krav Maga or any of our systems that deal with staying safe. 

The other night we talked about never wanting to have to get physical and avoiding confrontations. Then we looked at defensive posturing once an argument had started.  We didn't focus much on verbal de-escalation as really we all know how to do it.  We can all talk someone down. We do it on a daily basis with colleagues, family and spouses. Think how often you can argue with the other half and how you steer yourself out of danger - it's the same skill.  Then we move on to the physical stuff.  You get grabbed, you get hit or stabbed and maybe not by one person.  You can learn fighting strategies for dealing with all of this, and over time you can refine these and make yourself better, but at the beginning we want to become a hard target. We want to develop strikes that will rock someone if they lay a hand on us.  

Imagine someone attempts to rob you by stealing your bag.  You can choose to let it go and call the police, or you can put up a struggle.  That is your choice, and one you as an adult make and have to live with.  You could simply turn and strike the attacker in the hope that they run away. You see it all the time in the animal kingdom - it is no different.  However, if your bag is over your arm then maybe you can't just let it go and you are being pulled closer and then all of a sudden the attacker in his panic begins striking you.  You need to do something don't you? Nature has taught you to put your hands up, for example, to shield yourself from danger. The strikes are being absorbed on your arms and now you don't feel like giving up your property so you choose to fight back. In your mind you revisit your boxing curriculum and attempt to lay down some solid strikes in the hope of deterring this attacker. That's is self defence, staying safe - call it what you want.  At the outset, at the very fundamental level, you want to learn how to hit.  That's all it is and what you need to gain confidence in.  As you get better you can look at strategy, defences against this that and the other, but in the very first instance you need to be able to hit. And its easier to practice hitting on a pad a thousand times than it is practising escaping from a wrist grab a thousand times in the hope that if you are attacked they grab your wrist.  If it becomes physical then it's always going to resort to striking, unless of course you are trying to arrest someone as part of your job, or you are being attacked by a female and you are male - then you need to alter this plan of action.  

So in a nutshell, get good at striking.  Work your boxing strikes, elbows and knees as well. Then open your fist and work your palm heel strikes - punching with a closed fist with your knuckles on someone's face will end up with you having a broken hand.  Most of all be smart and don't get yourself in bad situations.  If you do, be a good actor and get yourself out of there. If you encounter someone who just won't let up, then you make sure you hit hard and fast, get out when you can and get home safe.

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