Those who know me and my approach to martial arts will know that self defence is a huge part of why I practise martial arts and why I teach it. Violence is an ever growing concern in this day and age and no one is immune to it. Not the older person, innocently answering a knock on the door. Not the young woman out for a run in the afternoon. Not the young guy hanging out with his mates at the skate park. Not the young child walking home from school. It’s depressing and scary to think that we will all either be on the receiving end of violence or directly know someone who has been. I truly wish that was an exaggeration but it seems to be more like an alarming fact.
The prevalence of violence in our society is one of the reasons I believe martial arts are for everyone. Attackers prey on people they believe are weak and vulnerable and the simple practise of doing martial arts can mean a difference in how you carry yourself. You may walk a little taller and more confidently and this may subconsciously show a potential attacker that you are not an easy target. This isn’t a guarantee though so the practise of martial arts and self defence is becoming a more critical skill. There are some things you can do though to reduce the chance of being attacked or at least give you a fighting chance if it comes down to you and an attacker.
One of the things my instructors taught me and has stuck with me is the concept of The Three A’s. They taught me that it was the key to effective self defence.
At all times be aware of what is going on around you. Look over your shoulder and glance at what is happening behind you and to either side of you regularly. Don’t just spend the time engrossed by your mobile phone or looking only at the ground in front of you. You need to make sure you are aware of what is happening and what may potentially affect you. This goes for listening to music as well. I see a lot of people who walk around with headphones in their ears and not looking around. This means they not only won’t see what is coming towards them but they won’t hear it either. Awareness is the first step.
We all know of some cool shortcuts to get from point A to point B. Maybe it’s an alley that means I don’t have to go the long way around the block. Maybe it’s a park you can cut through to get home quicker. Where I live there are a number of pedestrian paths that wind around behind houses. They are lovely to go for a walk on but are not well lit and not well travelled. No matter which of the above applies, effective self defence means avoiding these sorts of areas. It might take you a bit longer, but use the path which is well lit. Use the footpath that has cars passing who may be able to stop and help you if you need it.Avoidance is also about avoiding situations that might be dangerous. You may get invited to a party with people you don’t know or go into a room with a known bully. If you can, avoid these situations. It’s doesn’t make you a coward, it makes you smart.
However if all else fails, fall back onto action and the first action if you can, is to run away. Escape whenever possible – don’t try to be a hero. Always try to escape to populated and well-lit areas and don’t be afraid to ask for help.If you need to defend yourself though it is only self defence if the force you use is reasonable and proportionate to the attack. This means, if someone gives you a small shove and you respond by breaking their arm and punch them unconscious, you have not responded in a reasonable or proportionate way to the attack. If someone comes at you with a knife saying they are going to kill you, then breaking their arm and knocking them out is more reasonable and proportionate to the attack.
There is a lot more involved with self defence and every scenario is different. Martial arts can teach you to not only be physically capable of defending yourself but mentally capable as well. A strong mind can be just as effective in self defence as the most perfectly timed punch.