Traditional Martial Arts and Self-Defense
Search “self-defense in Auburn, AL.” In the google results, at the time of this writing, you will get fifteen results. Of those fifteen results, four of them are law firms.
Before I get too deep into the woods, I want to clarify what I think of as self-defense. Teaching a 4-year-old child “Stranger Danger” is technically self-defense. Likewise, teaching children how to stand up to a bully is self-defense. Another example of self-defense is teaching adults basic safety techniques – things like avoiding being alone at night, carrying pepper spray, etc… are all self-defense concepts. However, none of that stuff is what I think of when I think about self-defense.
Instead, I think of the skills: (1) a woman needs to be able to fight off a rapist; (2) I would want my daughter to have going off to college or being on her own; (3) a man needs to defend himself or his family; (4) anyone needs to be able to survive being robbed at gunpoint; (5) someone needs to defend themselves against a lunatic with a knife; (6) to survive an active shooter situation; (7) to disarm someone with a weapon; (8) to defend being jumped by multiple attackers; or (9) a police officer needs to survive an ambush. That is what self-defense is to me.
Hence the problem. There is an incredibly large number of people that think of themselves or market themselves as experts in self-defense. Unfortunately, many, maybe even most of those people are experienced and accomplished martial arts practitioners, instructors, and even black belts. I say unfortunately because we have always been taught that traditional martial arts (Taekwondo, Karate, BJJ, etc…) are forms of self-defense. We have been lied to!!! Traditional martial arts are a way to get yourself killed if used in a real-life violent encounter.
Before I go any further, I’m going to make an unequivocal statement.
Learning Karate, Taekwondo, Kickboxing, Aikido, Ju Jitsu, or any other martial art is NOT a bad thing!!!!!! EVERYmartial art, with the exception of just a couple, are legitimate and offer their practitioners valuable skills and life lessons. Discipline, self-control, coordination, and agility are just a few of the benefits that come to mind. If an instructor or practitioner of one of those arts is telling you that their art is the best and all others are worthless, they are either lying or just ignorant. I am an expert in Krav Maga, and I am telling you that Brazilian Ju Jitsu is a great skill, Taekwondo is a great skill, Karate is a great skill, and so on. That is just the honest truth, and I would be lying and doing you a disservice to allege anything else.
So, what’s the problem? The problem is that almost every martial art is grounded in sport. What I mean by that is the art was created for, or adapted to, competition. The instructors of those arts are attempting to apply something with rules, to something without rules. Taekwondo, Karate, Muay Thai, Judo, Wrestling, and Boxing are all official Olympic sports. The only reason Jui Jitsu is not an Olympic sport is the IOC (International Olympic Committee) decided that it was too similar to Judo. Competitions have rules. Competitions have moves and techniques that are illegal because they are likely to cause injury to opponents. Competitions have referees. Competitions have 1st place, 2nd place, and so on. Competitions have sportsmanship and fair play. Self-defense does not!!! If you are being attacked, there are no rules that tell your attacker what they can and cannot do. Your attacker will not be disqualified if he or she does something that might cause you injury. There is no referee that is watching closely to ensure that no illegal techniques are used, prevent someone from being hurt, or to declare a winner. In self-defense the winner is the woman that fights off a rapist, the man that defends his family, or the police officer that goes home to his or her family. In self-defense the only rule is survive.
Speaking to a group of instructors a well-known martial arts expert in Karate, Taekwondo, and Hapkido said,
“Martial arts instructors think they are experts at self-defense, just because they’ve earned a black belt. Not true. Much of your art is shit when it comes to self-defense. [Instead,] find a real Israeli Krav Maga instructor, and learn from them. If that rankles your ego, then you have no business teaching self-defense to anyone. Because face it – if you teach something to a student and they have to rely on it to save their lives tomorrow, they are going to die.”
Does an expert in karate, that has earned a black belt, and been practicing daily for 10 years have useful skills? Absolutely, and if anybody tells you they do not, that person is either lying or ignorant. Could an expert in Taekwondo put on a show in a marketing demonstration? Without a doubt. Can they break boards? You bet. Can an expert in BJJ tie you into a pretzel? 100% yes. Can any of them defend a physical attack from a bigger, faster, or stronger person intent on causing them harm? Maybe. Can they disarm an attacker with a gun, knife, or other weapon and survive to go home to their family? Probably not. Someone trained in Krav Maga can defend that physical attack or disarm the person threatening their life. As a bonus, they can also put on an amazing demonstration and break bricks.
So, now we have problem number two, the popularity and monetary explosion of self-defense. Well, more like problem two, three, and four. The reason this is a problem is greed and a subsequent decrease in the product being taught. Through a few different means, self-defense has experienced a rapid and large increase in popularity and demand. So much so, that almost every martial arts school, black belt, or instructor saw the dollar signs and decided they wanted a piece of the pie. When I was a child, Taekwondo was by far the leader in market capitalization. It seemed like there was a Taekwondo dojo on every corner and the art remains popular today. After Taekwondo, multiple forms of Karate gained in popularity. Kempo, Shotokan, and several others emerged from the shadows. As with Taekwondo, they remain popular today. Even more popular than those traditional arts is mixed martial arts and Jiu Jitsu that rose to fame when Dana White founded Ultimate Fighting and the UFC. But currently, all of them pale in comparison to the popularity and demand for self-defense, and specifically Krav Maga.
So, imagine all of the Karate instructors with this new influx of people coming in the door asking for self-defense or Krav Maga classes. Now imagine the instructors when those potential customers walked out of the door without signing up for a monthly membership because the school or dojo only offered instruction in karate or another traditional martial art. So how do these instructors keep those customers and their money? Spending years and thousands of hours learning and training is not an option. These schools need to offer an “expertise” and self-defense classes now. Luckily for them, greed isn’t limited to the people that want to be able to “teach” self-defense classes. With a quick google search, you can find countless weekend seminars, where you pay a large fee ($1,500-$5,000, even $10,000 or more), spend two eight-hour days training, and leave as “certified instructor” in Krav Maga. So now you have an expert in some martial art, or much worse an expert in nothing, that opens a Krav Maga or Self-defense school and represents themselves as an expert in self-defense, hand to hand combat, or Krav Maga. They even have a pretty certificate hanging on the walls that “proves” to the world they know what they are doing.
If you need brain surgery, do you go to a brain surgeon or a family practice doctor? Both are highly intelligent. Both graduated from medical school. Both completed a residency. Both are medical doctors. You and I both know that you would go to a brain surgeon. Why would self-defense be any different? You can learn from a family practice doc (the BJJ, MMA, and karate schools) or you can go to a brain surgeon (an authentic Krav Maga school certified by the largest Israeli Martial Art organization in the world). Your choice. But…. Just like with a brain surgery, your life depends on it.
Until next time,
Love, Peace, and Chicken Grease
Self Defense, Krav Maga, Auburn Alabama, Opelika Alabama, MMA, Mixed Martial Arts, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Kickboxing, Muay Thai
Published: January 27, 2022