Every year thousands of people sign up for martial arts classes and self-defense seminars. They have the expectation of becoming the next Bruce Lee or at least being able to hold their own, only to have their hopes dashed by reality later. First, lets take a look at the difference between learning a martial art and learning self-defense. Learning an actual art takes years of training and practice. In a time not so long ago, the martial arts were oftentimes the only means one had of defending him/herself. Proper training in an art then and now should follow the formula of basic philosophy, conditioning/techniques, forms and applications. Next comes intermediate concepts, conditioning/techniques, forms and applications.
5 Reasons why your martial arts/self defense training will fail you on the street.
1) Lack of basic physical fitness– In an actual physical altercation against someone with every intention of doing you harm, you will expend a lot of energy fast, trust me here. You may be able to knock out everyone you meet until you meet that one individual that makes you go the distance. Train for endurance, the longer you can move and generate power the better your chances.
2) Improper physical conditioning– This is another main ingredient often missing in most people’s training. There is undeniably a difference between a punch from a well conditioned fist and one that is not. If your fists cannot at the very least handle push-ups on concrete, they will not serve you well for effective punching. Also, if you’ve never been hit for real it could shut you down instantly.
3) Improper mental conditioning or mindset– An imbalance of confidence will not serve you well. Over confidence or lack of confidence can get you hurt or worse. If you must commit yourself, do so fully and without hesitation. Often times, people are taught to do just enough to get away. Courses designed for women are notorious for this mentality. What happens if that is not a option? Learn to fight to the finish if you have to.
4) Improper spiritual conditioning– All arts have a spiritual element or philosophy. Exercise and balance your “chi” regularly through meditation. Always, remain a student no matter what color belt or sash you wear. Be willing to learn from every experience you have. See life and the Universe as one big school.
5) Lack of training on “real life” surfaces- If you’ve only trained on the level floors and mats of your dojo, dojang or kwoon, you will be in for a surprise. Do some training outside on some not so forgiving surfaces while wearing your street clothes and shoes. You will quickly find out what does and does not work on uneven ground, wet leaves, loose gravel, wet grass or wet pavement.
Hopefully, no matter what style or system you practice currently or are considering this has given you a few points to ponder. Take time to evaluate your fitness level, your techniques and your mindset. With a little effort you will easily see where the beautiful brutality was left out of your art.