My self defence ‘philosophy’ is pretty simple. It goes like this:
It’s better to Avoid, then Run.
It’s better to Run, than Hide.
It’s better to Hide, than Talk.
It’s better to Talk, then Fight.
It’s better to Fight, than Die.
Too often, I see situations of conflict that could’ve been resolved much earlier, and safer than need be. In fact, I see many conflicts degrade into a physical confrontation in which Martial Art is therefore justified, when all that needed was some simple common sense.
We see this all the time with instances of road rage, in which one driver violates some form of road etiquette, and another driver in response uses his horn, and or gestures to to demean the original offender (flipping the bird, swearing etc etc.). Both cars stop at a light, and the ‘communication’ continues and de-escalates until one, or both members step outside their car to ‘talk’.
The point that I’m trying to make, is that not all, but many interpersonal conflicts have layers. Not everything starts physically. Much situations actually start verbally, and politically. In other words–non physical stimulus is what breeds physical responses. This is the problem with studying a Martial Art. Martial Art education, typically assumes a physical start, in which elicits a physical end.
What is the best Martial Art to study?
Be a good person. You’ll be surprised how far being a good person will take you. Good people, only do good things, in good places, with other good people, at good times. Doing so, drastically reduces the amount of attacks you will realistically ever experience in your lifetime.
Well what if someone gets in my face and I’m worried they’ll attack?
People who are truly vested in attacking you, will approach you from the back, or sides (so you are off guard and will attack without warning). So someone approaching you head on is (to some degree) able to be reasoned with (again, to some degree). Being a good person isn’t enough. You need to be a strong person as well. Invest in your communication skills, and more importantly, know how to project confidence. There are tons of good people who get stepped on, I will admit. But the ones who don’t are simply good, confident people who know how to express and assert it at the proper time. Many situations can be de-escalated, with the right combination of words, tone, and assertion. But it requires, effective communication. I advise everyone, to take sometime and learn about communication–verbally, and kinetic (body language). For situations that are verbally volatile/aggressive, these skills can prove invaluable, and perhaps save your life.
Well what happens if I just get jumped randomly?
Random beatdowns, actually happen much less frequently than we hear about them. ‘Random’ beatdowns either have been simmering to a boil from a political perspective (gang wars fighting for power revenge plots), or just a straight up random event.
In this case, a fight has broken out, and there were no prior layers to acclimate you to the circumstance. This represents a very narrow happenstance in life, and is precisely where Martial Art can make itself relevant.
1. Have a strong body. No body willingly chooses to attack the strong person. Victims are chosen. Much like the animal world, the victim that looks sickly, frail and afraid are often the targets. A strong body takes you off that radar, and also is very difficult to dominate regardless of Martial training. Think about it–The average NFL Lineman does not know a thing about fighting. Would you go pick a fight with them?
2. Learn a Martial Art. Learn a style of Martial Art that focuses on simplicity and Strength. Whether it be grappling, Muay Thai, Boxing, Wrestling, whatever. Protecting yourself is actually quite simple: If you fail to meet the aggressor with a comparable amount of commitment to physicality, then the aggressor will always win. It’s not the technique that matters. It’s the commitment and execution to it that makes it work. In other words, one style is not better than the other. Nor can we really say that a blend of all is the best way. What matters, is the persons execution in the moment of attack. With that said–whatever style you do, be sure to train and exercise at the highest possible intensity so that your body is not foreign to the intensity of the attack.
Lastly. Take the thoughts of violence spoken from a Martial Art instructor with a grain of salt. For the most part, our experience of violence is somewhat sterile: We were taught in a gym, then got good, then got a certification to teach, then at some point fought in a ring, then opened a school. This is a massive generalization, but for the most part thats kind of how the industry goes. What Martial Art instructors are actually teaching, are combat manoeuvres, applied in sport, and/or those same manoeuvres applied for reality, but practiced without the same threat/conditions they would potentially be used under.
Martial Artists can help you with being a good person. They can help you to be strong, and direct your time, and energy doing something beneficial (good people doing good things in good places with other good people). But if your concern is to truly understand violence, I myself tend to turn to sources and professionals whose jobs and experience wholly encompass the subject:
‘Meditations on Violence’, Rory Miller
‘On Combat’ Lieutenant Dave Grossman
‘The big book of self defence’ Marc MacYoung
Stay educated. Stay Good.