Best for Self Defense: Sport or Traditional?

One of the favorite arguments amongst martial artists is to compare the relative values of a sport martial art like Muay Thai to a traditional martial art like Wing Chun, against the standard of the revered Street. The Street, of course, being the mythical place were evil monsters exist whose only purpose in life is to defeat your most beloved training technique. It happens within styles as well: your sport Judo isn’t as good for real self defense as my old-school Judo. Or Olympic Taekwondo vs your current kwoon Taekwondo. It’s a bit of a pointless argument. Odds are, neither are really good at preparing you for a self-defense scenario. It’s really not the purpose of most martial arts schools. Most schools are around to preserve knowledge, and to pass on the traditions of the teacher. This isn’t a bad thing. As Cicero says, it’s in our nature to seek…

Continue reading

Moving Past Quit

She’s supposed to be searching me, but I’m just tired of it. So I turn, with everything I’ve got, and smash my elbow into her face. I try to drive her neck into the wall with my forearm so I can hit her more, but she’s already out and down. I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but I step forward to do something to her again. I’m grabbed from behind, violently. There might be yelling or commands, but I don’t hear them. It’s the other guard. She spins me around, maybe hits me, I don’t know. I duck under her arm, grab her around the waist. I’m told later that she, being a trained judoka, tried a leg sweep/trip throw on me, but I was having none of it. From my waist grab, I drive my right shoulder into her solar plexus, and slam her into the wall.…

Continue reading

Aeschylus, the Turtle, and Arwrology

Taught the third class in our four class self-defense series last monday, despite being sick as a dog. It went well. Six hours in and I feel like everyone has a good grasp on the basic materials. The small field trip really helped, hanging out for a while and practicing recognizing individual and group dynamics. Learning to see and categorize what would otherwise just be a “gut” reaction is a skill more people should develop. The third class was mostly the reverse CPR class. We covered all the ways to stop someone quickly and thoroughly. We covered why humans are hard to stop, unless you hit the right button. And we talked about how to push each button just right. I think it says a lot that such material is the rarest thing in martial arts. Doesn’t matter how bad-ass a martial art is, most of the class isn’t going…

Continue reading

Self Defense Classes

Next week marks a big new step in martial arts training for me. Valkyrie will be teaching our first ever self defense classes, as a four-class series. I’ve resisted teaching self-defense for years. It’s what I taught when I started teaching martial arts, but the more I learned, the more I leaned away from teaching it. I had some good reasons. The primary reason was that I never felt I could devote the teaching time necessary to teach usable skills. I’ve always felt an urgency about teaching self-defense. What if the student needed to use the newly learned skills on their way home from class? Could I teach them enough to survive in one class? The self-defense market was my secondary reason for not teaching. The market is made up of buyers and sellers, and between the two of them self-defense has become defined as a product…a thing you can…

Continue reading

Heaven and Hell on the Night Train

Good dramatic title, isn’t it? One of my favourite zen tales is the story of the badass samurai looking for a little wisdom. He came across a priest, and asked this priest about heaven and hell. The priest started to swear at the warrior, belittling him. The warrior grew angry, and reached for his sword. The priest looked that the warrior as the sword started to come out of the scabbard, and said “Now you enter the gates of hell.” The warrior froze up, realization dawning. He slid the sword back into the scabbard. “And now you enter the gates of heaven.” Good wisdom there, and a deeper lesson than you think for martial artists. Class last night was one of those rare and special moments. We’ve wrapped up two lengthy training phases, and as such the week had been designated for rest. No formal class plans, no workout. The…

Continue reading

Con Permiso: An Honest Look at Self-Defence

The truth is, the fancy police or military-based combatives training isn’t really going to do shit for you. I know, they seem so tough. All yell-y and camo’ed up, taught by guys who’ve killed with their bare hands. The techniques are simple, practical, and lethal. They can be used in high stress situations. All very useful when creepy uncle walt puts his hand on your thigh, or your popular co-worker starts feeling you up in the lunch room with all the other employees just outside the door. Go ahead. Break his nose. It’s a great idea, and everyone will applaud you. But you won’t do it. Violence can happen a lot of ways. The popular idea of violence is the gorilla chest-thumping that leads to assault, and yes that does happen. Men and women both do it in their own ways. There are also the human goblins, evil little shits…

Continue reading