By Vali Majd
Regardless of motivations, I have always been supportive of individuals who wish to step on the Martial path- be it self-defence, martial arts, combatives or survival. To many practitioner, and even instructors the distinction is not very clear. As a result, all too often the wrong product/service gets delivered, and either the student quits, gets hurt, feels unfulfilled or even worse, mistakenly believe in skills he/she has acquired.
Many schools see a spike in enrollment after a good martial art movie hits the screens. Some may get inspired by the high action actors, others by the “old monk” utilizing more so-called “wishi washi” internal arts. On the other hand, someone might have been recently attacked or mugged and now feels the need to learn to defend themselves. The motivations are very different, as such a little research is warranted in order to choose the appropriate art, system, method or discipline.
“All paths lead to Rome”
Granted, at the end of the day, they all seemingly attempt to do the same thing, but the difference is mostly in the length of the path itself.
While historically some of the softer internal arts may have come originally from harder styles- the amount of time necessary to acquire “self-defence” skills through such arts will be considerably longer than some of the more practical arts. By the same token “arts” often tend to gravitate towards personal cultivation, and, as a by-product the student may get exposed to and learn some self-defence applications.
It is however very important to realize that very few of the arts prepare their students for the reality of violence, or make their focus “self-defense”
In fact, very few self-defence systems adequately prepare students for the reality of violence. Some of my biggest concerns in this field revolves around the absolute none-sense of single day self-defence workshops for women/elderly- unless they focus on psychology of predators, strategies of placement, demeanor, de escalation, communication skills and being street smart. However- most applications and techniques taught in these courses create a fake sense of confidence that frankly might get one seriously hurt.
Having said that, with a good proven system/method, any individual, regardless of sex, age or size will gain skills and understanding necessary to survive street violence- the key is in the length of training required (certainly not one or two days).
As such, what ever your motivation to get on the path, make sure you understand what you are/will be getting from your studies. Most importantly make sure you know clearly what it is you are seeking to achieve.