I’m not always sure how to respond to the question of, “does this technique work in a street fight?” or, “Is what you teach good for self-defense?”. The answer is both “yes” and “no”. This article will look at the difference between marital arts for self protection and simple self protection.
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When it comes to practicing martial arts you have two, often misunderstood, concepts; Personal Perfection and Personal Protection. What it comes down to is not as much what you train, but how you train. Under what circumstances, in what environment, in what state of mind, etc., are you training?
When you are in the dojo practicing your techniques with your partner, you are mostly in the realm of personal perfection. We scrutinize hand placement, footwork, stance, body position, weight distribution, grace, fluidity of the execution of movements, etc.
That’s why most of us stay with martial arts. It’s the continual feeling of improvement and body control that often inspires us to make martial arts a major part of our lives.
Even if you are sparring kickboxing or MMA or grappling, you may be notching it up in terms of spontaneity, resistance, pressure, but you are still in a mode of personal perfection.
When it comes to martial arts for self protection, the efficacy of a certain technique is directly linked to one’s ability to execute that technique under pressure and in a multitude of situations.
This ability requires, not only repetition, but repetition in an environment that simulates the conditions that make up a high pressure situation. Much like how military or law enforcement personal have to create simulation scenarios for being ready for what they will encounter in the field.
Don’t get me wrong, techniques in martial arts are highly effective because we meticulously dissect what it is that makes something work; how you use your body mechanics to deliver a strike or what your grip is like when executing a choke or how the body must be aligned to successfully lock a joint. But where and when a practitioner will be able to pull off has many variables.
My instructor, Rick Faye, once said that every individual reason for practicing martial arts is valid and no one approach is more valid than the next. Weather you train martial arts to win combat sports or just to stay in shape, meet new people, protect yourself or your family, all are as valid as the other. Just be honest with yourself where you stand in that world and understand the difference of training methods and what part of your life those methods are there to serve.
But keep in mind; the better equipped you are with the right “tools” (solid footwork, hand speed, perceptual speed, coordination, fitness) the higher your chances of survival and success in a self-defense situation.