Arts or Self Defense?
Recently my wife and I were out to dinner sitting
in a restaurant and immediately our ears perked up when the
women sitting behind us started talking about self defense.
Considering my wife and I have close to a half
century of experience in the martial arts and are both self
defense instructors, we find it very interesting and sometimes
very amusing to hear lay people talking about it.
The women were apparently talking about street
self defense and the best approach to learning it. One women
seemed to be 'sure' the best thing they could do was to attend
a self defense seminar that was being held at a local YMCA.
The other was talking about a friend that teaches Tae Kwon Do
at a local dojang.
I didn't know what started the conversation or
what their immediate concerns were but it seemed it was important
for them to learn self defense and get up to speed quickly.
They also considered another martial arts school
that I believe was some kind of karate studio. The two women
seemed to speak interchangeably about martial arts and self
defense, as if they were one and the same.
I am not putting down martial arts. No, not by
any means. I make my living teaching martial arts (traditional
karate). But it takes years to learn enough at a typical martial
arts school to even begin to learn self defense that would be
effective on the street. In fact, in many schools they would
never learn much of anything that would help them if they were
Many adults sign up for martial arts classes with
the intent and expectation of learning self defense. I am all
for martial arts but for different reasons. Martial arts can
help someone improve their self esteem, develop self discipline,
increase their self confidence, help get them and keep them
in shape. Will it help them defend themselves? Well again, maybe?
Maybe after many years of hard training. Maybe
if they are in a school that teaches effective self defense
techniques. Maybe if the program adds some reality training.
Maybe if the student learns to deal with the inevitable adrenal
Perhaps if the goal is self defense, then there
are other, quicker, easier paths to this end. See Street
Self Defense 101.
Shihan Michael Pace