Does anyone actually need to learn self defence?

Discussion in 'Self Defence' started by Simon, Mar 17, 2013.

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  1. Simon

    Simon Administrator Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    Self defence is a fascinating subject and in my view a system that should be taught seperately to what we would generally accept as a standard martial arts class.

    Many of us teach self defence as a small part of our syllabus, some teach it as a complete system, but how many of us actually need these skills?

    I understand that not everyone lives in a countryside hamlet where the worst crime is some sheep rustling, but sometimes a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and I do wonder if a martial artists is any more likely to be able to avoid or deal with a situation where a fight may occur.

    It seems to me that many martial artists are far more worried about defending themselves than those who have never trained before.

    Maybe those with absolutely no martial knowledge automatically use the correct instincts to avoid confrontational situations.

    Of course self defence isn't just about fighting and a good system teaches pre-fight tactics, the different types of aggressor, verbal de-escalation and so on.

    Is someone with those skills more likely to face off against, for example, a person who bumps into them in the street?

    Maybe before you had some martial and/or SD skills you would have turned the other cheek, apologised (even if not your fault) and gone about your way.
    Now though you are a little bit more confident and feel you can say something to the idiot who walked into you.

    I've always said it's easier to be nice, that way you won't get into trouble.

    Is this enough, or are those SD skills really necessary?
  2. robin101

    robin101 Working the always shift.

    Dont know about necessary. I mean nothing can prepare you for a violent confrontation, even other violenet confrontations. to many variables. But a solid basis of close range strikes ( punches, knees, headbuttes etc) and grappling combined with learning to use them when adrenaline kicks in against a resisting opponent is always good . I mean 8 times out of ten violence can be avoidede with right precations ( ie dont go to violent places, know when to leave, travel in groups etc ) and the 9 out of those ten times you will just end up shoving etc. but its good to know some things. like the jack you keep in your car. 364 days a year you dont need it, but you are glad you have it when you do.
  3. bassai

    bassai onwards and upwards ! Moderator Supporter

    As I've stated before , self defence is no longer my primary concern.
    My approach is to train my chosen arts focusing on getting better at them , then "dipping in" to some quality self defence oriented training ;)
  4. Moosey

    Moosey invariably, a moose Supporter

    I'm with bassai on this. I like having some skills that could conceivably be useful in self-defence, but it's really not a priority. I just like karate and see getting better at it as an end in itself.
  5. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Moved on MAP 2017 Gold Award

    I personally couldn't learn anything that I didn't want to use outside of class, luckily there is an outlet for that: a cage (or in W. Australia, a ring). I've never met a guy who practices MMA who wanted to throw down outside of class. I'm the same.
  6. Lockjaw

    Lockjaw Killing you softly

    Self defence is often treated as a dirty word.

    It’s not.

    In fact, it is an absolute necessity.

    We almost never have all the facts.

    ...But we must act anyway.

    And so we make the best assumptions we can with what little we know.

    There are a couple tricks to making this work for us instead of against us.

    1) Know when you’re making assumptions.

    2) Make the right assumptions.

    So lets talk about the second one.

    How many attackers will attack you?

    There’s no reliable way to know the answer.

    ...but whether we realize it or not any training we do is preparing us for a specific number of attackers.
    So first we must make that assumption for ourselves instead of letting it happen for us.

    Next we have to make the right one.

    There are a few options:

    1. A single attacker
    2. A small group (2 - 4)
    3. A large group / Zombie Horde (5 - 8+)

    We could train for a single attacker, but then we’re not prepared if we’re attacked by a group (or a horde.)

    We could train for all of them, but there are two problems:

    1) That requires our training time is split among more things and so it’s less effective.

    2) It means we make another assumption. The assumption that we will be able to determine how many people are attacking us and do it quickly enough to choose the right skillset before it’s too late.

    Fortunately there’s a third option.

    Techniques and strategies that work against a group will also work against a single person.

    So if we assume there’s a large group, and train for it, then if we’re wrong we’re still good and if we’re right it’s what we trained for.



    1 - There are Multiple Attackers.
    2 - The Attack is Unexpected.
    3 - The Attackers are Armed.
    4 - The Attackers are Faster.
    5 - The Attackers are Stronger.
    6 - You are Old & Out of Shape.
    7 - You have unforeseen limitations.

    EVERY single martial artist is making assumptions on each of these points.

    You have NO choice.

    Either you train for a single attacker or you train for a group of attackers.
    You can assume the attackers are unarmed or you can assume they have weapons.
    You can assume the attackers are stronger or you can assume they are weaker.

    There is no middle ground.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2013
  7. seiken steve

    seiken steve golden member

    bizzarly this clip sums up my thoughts:

    [ame=""]Friends - UNAGI - YouTube[/ame]

    no not ross ramblings about unagi but the girls attitude in the first 30 seconds or so, "i've done a selfdefence class therefore i'm invincible"

    a little knowledge is a dangerous thing IMO i've known a few quite unassuming types do a couple of MA classes and next time they've had a beer or two.

    however i see this far more often with dudes starting to lift a few weights, they've done a week or two at the gym and they're dying to show of their new found strength and machoism down the local highstreet,

    i'm a natural protector, and always trying to 'keep an eye out' for the females, disabled and smaller members of my group, is this because of my nature? because i grew up being a bit taller than everyone at school, my upbrining or because of the training i've done? i guess i'll never know, but the tendancy is if i've been involved in a SD situation 9 times out of ten its in defence of someone else. very unwise but i doubt i'll ever change!

    overall though i try to remember what my father taught me "you'll catch more flies with sugar than poop"
  8. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    First off self defense should mean 90% of situations never even occur in the first place.

    In the second, you have approached it **** backwards. You need to be competent one on one before you can even consider going to a group situation. If you cannot display skill and efficacy against one person you will fail spectacularly against a group.

    Traning progression is the answer

    You cannot fight more than one person effectively at the same's impossible. What you can do is fight one person multiple times - which brings us right back to training one on one to a high level

    Mass attacks are still relatively rare..certainly rare where there are many on one. If you find yourself in one I would suggest your color code is set to white as much as anything else

    Too often people make assumptions without experience; its never a a good idea
  9. SoKKlab

    SoKKlab The Cwtch of Death!

    I use my Self-Defence daily. Mostly by making sure I avoid idiots...And making sure I'm not being an idiot myself. I endeavour to stay 'awake'...

    The physical stuff? I'd suggest that as a man you run the risk of being oppressed, beaten up or even beaten etc to death by other men. Even when you apply some commonsense. And no matter what your 'social class' etc.

    You can of course tamp this risk down...and indeed negate it by all the usual commonsense things.

    Living in a quiet neighbourhood. Avoiding 'bad' places and people etc. Not getting involved with criminals (no matter of what caliber).

    I live in north-west London...And I look like someone you should avoid...

    But still only a few weeks ago three wannabe 'gangstas' tried to start on me on the bus. And then thought differently about it (mostly due to my seeming 'lack' of fear - in truth you just learn to control your adrenaline through breathing and experience).

    In the cold light of day...Most anti-social situations can be avoided, thwarted or deflected.

    And real, hardcore violence is only necessary (truly necessary) in about 1 percent of cases. Mostly you 'should' have got out there well before then (this takes 'suss').

    Avoidance through awareness and escape is an understated skill.

    'Anti-social' violence and situations should be 'ideally' de-escalated. This takes work, commonsense and good judgement.

    'Asocial' violence is an entirely different kettle of fish. And can only be answered with greater violence. That 1%...

    A lot of people I know are fast asleep when it comes to protecting themselves. They either think it'll not happen to them at all. Or it's just not that high a priority for them...Until they find themselves in a situation and lack answers.

    I seriously know one woman who has been mugged four times...And she has STILL done nothing to learn how to protect herself. Or work on her self-esteem issues.

    Last time she was mugged she was drunk...And got hit from behind as she was getting off a night bus...Smashed her head on the floor...Her balance and hearing was shot for months afterwards...And she was working in radio at the time...

    She told me she would like to protect herself...But she doesn't want to hurt anybody...

    That attitude is more common than you think. I've lived in 'working-class' areas most of my life. There's a lot of day to day 'personal oppressive' situations. Pecking order etc (not just a male thing).

    You've to let a lot of situations pass. After all if you rose to every challenge you'd be fighting constantly due to each perceived slight...Choose your Battles Wisely.

    I always think about sort of sidling my way around situations. And if I ever feel like 'going at it' I convince myself I'm too busy...And must get on. When someone tries to front me I often pretend I speak no English...Which is not difficult for a Welsh Person...

    Some people tap their natural instincts in highly-adrenalised physical situation.

    Most 'fine motor skills' martial arts techniques fall apart under adrenaline anyway. As soon as your heart rate goes 160 and above you lose anything fancy.

    Through experience I suggest that most people, martial artists included - under the effect of adrenaline:

    1) Forget everything and thrash about like a jellyfish on a bar-b-q


    2) Fight as they train (if they've trained enough)

    Apologies and a smile often help. I'm still working on this.

    Actually I love fighting. I always have. But I realised at an early age that violence was fundamentally stupid...A paradox. Hence why I've mostly trained in Combat Sports systems (Rugby, Boxing, Muay Thai, MMA etc).

    I would suggest though if you've an outlet for your controlled aggression you'll be far LESS likely to get into a 'fight'.

    I can also tell you from experience that just doing weights can make you very aggressive...You need something to temper this.

    Physical skills are definitely useful. Like a seat belt. 99.9% of the time you put it on and never have to use it. However every now and then...

    And also remember even if you live in a really nice 'decent' place. And live a quiet life etc...You'll unlikely be in the same place for your entirety.

    Good Luck
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2013
  10. Simon

    Simon Administrator Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    I disagree.

    I'm 47 and haven't been in a fight of note for many, many years. The chances of me getting in another fight are very slim.

    Some of my students are well into their 30's (and above) and never had a fight.

    I enjoy the subject of self defence, I have some self defence in my syllabus and I have done some SIM days under self defence instructor JWT.

    I don't do it though out of fear or necessity.

    If you enjoy training for the love of it, then why do you need any more? If you do Kung Fu for health, flexibility, social reasons or because uyou nust enjoy it, then you don't need to worry about your ground game, being strong and fit enough for the ring and you certainly don't need to worry about training for 5 guys with weapons.

    If your system covers this, then that's a bonus for you. I'm just asking of it's absolutely necessary and if it's something that should cause concern if your art doesn't cover it.

    Just for clarity I'm not anti self defence. Today I was teaching defence against a roundhouse kick to the ribs.

    It was pretty much stuff from my Kung Fu background, but I added a SD aspect too. Certainly in regard to how you address the aggressor when he goes to ground.

    I'm not convinced though that SD is something we should worry about, when the arguement is weighed up against someone who has never trained.
  11. Simon

    Simon Administrator Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    You raise a very good point and an excellent post.

    Maybe the reason I'm not worried is that I am also aware. I've trained this to a point that it's automatic, not something I have to switch on and off.

    As it's not particularly "rough" where I live, and the fact that I am not a nightclub or pub type of person, maybe I have reason to worry less.
  12. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    Self defense (protection) is something we should all think about....but only a tiny percentage of that is physical.

    Locking doors, avoiding seedy bars and dark alleys are all self protection. But they aren't glamorous and it is hard to quantify how effective something is when it is preventative. "Man Gets Home Safely" just doesn't make good headlines
  13. bassai

    bassai onwards and upwards ! Moderator Supporter

    This should be a sticky somewhere , far too many people focus on the punchy kicky aspect of self defence , then walk around in a near coma !
  14. seiken steve

    seiken steve golden member

    but, but, seedy bars are fun bars.
  15. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

    I need self defence because my job means I get assaulted semi-regularly :(
  16. Simon

    Simon Administrator Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    Ben, how serious does the NHS take the subject of SD?
  17. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

    Everyone get's "conflict resolution" training, but obviously that's somewhat generic. Mental health bods get C+R training, in general trusts a policy of retreat is advocated for obvious reasons, but the dynamics of violence in healthcare mean that sometimes it isn't that simple.
  18. bassai

    bassai onwards and upwards ! Moderator Supporter

    I taught a lady (briefly) a few years ago who worked in mental health , she also said that retreat was the number one option taught , and what she could use was pretty limited.
    I was quite pleased when she told me that training with me had given her more confidence the next time she was assessed though.
  19. Simon

    Simon Administrator Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    Nice, Bassai. It's those moments that make teaching a rewarding job.
  20. Grass hopper

    Grass hopper Valued Member

    I feel like it's important for people to be able to defend themselves. Although my perspective is a little off the norm. Many people try to make a fun time out of gay bashing, although not as common in modern times, the threat exists.
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