I wanted to share with you an article written by Guru Brian Johns on his views on martial arts and personal safety:
“There are those in the public who mistakenly perceive that training in the martial arts will guarantee them a certain level of safety. Even sadder are those martial artists who believe that their training gives them some sort of “shield” and blinds them to reality. More specifically, their egos unfortunately become inflated due to their superb skills in relation of those of lesser skills. Every so often, we got a reminder that martial artists are just physically well trained human beings. One would hope that they would train their mind and spirit as well. Unfortunately, that is not the case in a number of cases.
A well-known kick boxer in the San Francisco area had a storefront martial arts store. According to news reports, he was standing outside of the store when a pickup truck, driving down the street, sideswiped his car, parked by the curb in front of the school. The truck continued on down to the intersection close to the school. The kick boxer became enraged at this and ran down the street and caught up to the stopped truck. He went up to the driver’s side of the truck and berated the driver. According to news reports, the driver rolled down the window and fatally shot the kick boxer in the head. Turns out that the driver was either a recently released convict or an escapee. Regardless, this is a very sad episode. This was discussed extensively on the internet and many martial artists questioned why the kickboxer hadn’t just called the police and let law enforcement take care of matters. Naturally, the question turned philosophical and ended up reminding people of the limits of martial arts.
Another case involved a Systema instructor in the Chicago area. Apparently, he was a pretty well regarded martial artist. From what I read on the internet, he received a phone call late at night from a friend of his, who asked him to meet him in an alley behind a grocery store. This Systema instructor was found dead from knife wounds. The first question raised is why would he agree to meet someone in a suspicious area like a dark alley behind a grocery store late at night ? It wasn’t a failure of martial arts and personal safety skills that did him in; it appears to have been a failure of common sense that did him in.
I think that it was Marc “Animal” McYoung who said that martial arts should constitute only about 5 to 10% of your overall personal safety schema. I would have to agree with that. I would think that using your common sense and listening to your intuition (Read “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker….a terrific book) should provide plenty of personal protection.”
by: Guru Brian Johns
THE TRUTH IN APPLYING MARTIAL ARTS AND PERSONAL SAFETY TRAINING EFFECTIVELY TO A REAL WORLD SELF-DEFENCE SITUATION:
I can say without any doubt whatsoever exactly what this problem is and martial arts and personal safety training very seldom prepares the student for it properly at all. That problem is the only thing one can absolutely count on occurring in any real self-defence situation and it is the problem with dealing with the powerful adrenal stress reaction.
Martial arts and personal safety training almost always occur under non-adrenal circumstances. The training hall is correctly a place of respect and courtesy. The real world of violence and human predators certainly is not.
Even the most demanding tournaments with significant levels of physical contact do not approach the adrenal levels that actual combat engages in a person. The repeatedly observed reality is that the adrenal stress reaction (to those not previously conditioned to it) will affect a decided loss of motor control; especially fine motor control that so many martial arts techniques demand. I have observed this for many years in training even very accomplished martial arts people in self-defence using ‘scenario based training’.
Once the conditions of an actual self-defence situation are authentically simulated by the instructor in a scenario, that is the body posture, verbal abuse and the body carriage and projection of true malevolent intent, etc, the ‘body does not know the difference’ and we see these adrenal affects display themselves every time.
When the instructor who is training the ‘student’ for adrenal stress management assumes and displays the same physiological cues of the actual human predator, the martial arts person and the previously untrained person are often indistinguishable in their fight performance against that armored assailant instructor.
To be frank here, even well trained black belts often flail ineffectually and seldom land any effective blows at all or defend themselves effectively in their first fight simulation scenario against the armored assailant. I feel that this would be their performance in their first real assault too. You might reasonably imagine how “playing the role” of a real aggressor can affect these dysfunctional adrenal reactions in the student. The truthful and economical answer is both ‘easily” and ‘reliably’. The adrenal release is not a voluntary action. It is autonomic and automatic, ‘hard wired’ response to the cues of danger. Thus if you authentically present those cues of danger, then you will get the adrenal response. The difference of course is how the student handles and manages that adrenal response. Since most of us are not accustomed to or experienced with ‘life and death’ situations and the adrenal rush, most people are overcome by it. By this I mean they ‘choke” or ‘freeze up’ and they are unable to use the martial technique they may have learned because they learned them under the non-adrenal state of martial arts study.
Now are there exceptions? Yes, there clearly are exceptions. If a student performs effectively in their first adrenal stress driven scenario there is almost always a single reason. That reason is because it’s not their first adrenal stress driven ‘fight’. They have had previous experience with the ‘real thing’ and the adrenal rush it elicits.
What protected fight simulation does is to provide that ‘biochemical experience’ without the dangerous experience of getting into a real attack! I can only do this when the student is ready mentally and physically.
The more modern training methodology of simulation and adrenal stress driven scenario-based training has scientifically proven itself superior to any other training method and in many different and varied fields.
Fighter pilots train in aircraft simulators. Tank crews do the same in computer modeled tanks. Commercial airline pilots are required to maintain their emergency skills through periodic simulator training to qualify and maintain their flight worthy status.
It should thus be no surprise that this simulation training methodology is superior when applied to unarmed self-defence training. More so than any alternative methodology including any martial arts or personal safety training systems.
‘I have and will always maintain that martial arts and personal safety training is about self-perfection, real self-protection is about real combat, mental, emotional, ugly and most certainly not pleasant like in the kwoon or dojo.’ If you are not learning all aspects of real life violence in your training, you are learning to dance respectfully in a controlled environment.
Shibo Peter Anthony Boland.
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