Like many of you, I grew up watching (awesome) Kung Fu movies and surrounded by martial arts schools everywhere. In the beginning of the 80’s, not yet a teen, I joined a Karate Dojo and like a sponge, I listened and trusted that the Master was the ultimate guardian of the truth about all things related to fights.
I did all the steps with all the required enthusiasm. We were taught how to move forward, backward, punching, kicking, powerful defenses, sneaky leg swap and…against weapons. We were hypothesized on the idea of “one punch and one kick kill” and at the same time we recited the Dojo Kun (training rules)…kind a mixed messages here 😀
Not until I was much older and a teacher myself, I started to meet people and have experiences that altered my understanding of what self-defense was –and wasn’t… in a hard way, having very frustrating experiences in real street fights and later during my Special Forces training. I found out, as much as I didn’t want to believe it, that while I could block, punch, and kick like those actors on tv, I didn’t really know much about real self-defense. Why? Just because the thugs on the street don’t play by my rules, and that’s the key point: rules.
I found out that even if I could block one attack, they wouldn’t stop. They kept coming with more and different attacks, the kind of attacks that I didn’t train because they were some random, so wild, so unfair. Well, street fights are unfair, dirty, messy and unpredictable, there isn’t any referee yelling to stop or a crowd cheering because you did a Jean-Claude Van Damme kind of kick.
I didn’t do this post to promote Krav Maga or my school, but when I see so many Martial Arts dojos promoting Self-Defense classes I have to say something. Guys, Martial Art is exactly that, an ART. Don’t ask a pet photographer to photograph Lions in Botswana, he/she will be eaten alive.
People who are truly unqualified to teach self-defense are passing on techniques and ideas that are absolute fantasy. The instructors mean well, many of them are simply doing what they were told to do –and they were taught not to question, but to listen and do as they were told. I don’t say that they don’t believe they’re “teaching” practical self-defense, but sadly they are not, only if you lived real life threats/attacks you would understand the meaning of Self-Defense. Or (probably the easiest way) you can learn hand-to-hand self-defense and fighting systems truly based in real life situations, people who can take away your fantasy self-defense curriculum and give you easy to practice pragmatic tools, tools that will enhance what you’ve learned, and what could make you a real self-defense teacher.
Self-defense shouldn’t be about business, about making money at all cost. It’s about teaching common people to defend themselves from any kind of attack on the street, this doesn’t mean that you’ll transform them into superheroes, only means that at the end of the day you will sleep well, knowing that because of you, someone is more confident, healthier and has more chances to survive.