MANLY ARTS OR HORS DE COMBAT ?Dave Schuler
of the Glittering Eye
had an unconventional post " The Best Weapon is a Trained Mind
" last week on his philosophy of self-defense that was sparked by a discussion atDean's World:
"First, let me establish some credentials. I’ve studied martial arts longer than many of my readers have been alive. My first Judo instructor was a U. S. national champion. My second Judo instructor and Taekwondo instructor was the head instructor at the most prestigious martial arts school in South Korea (the name escapes me at the moment). My kendo instructor was the head kendo instructor with the Japanese Imperial Army in Manchuria (he didn’t spread it around too much for obvious reasons but odd things come out in post-practice drinking sessions). I’ve also studied aikido and fencing. I used to be a passable shot with both gun and bow.I taught judo for six or so years and women’s self-defense for five years. I received thank you notes for several years thereafter from women who’d successfully used the training I gave them.I’ve found myself in situations in which I was compelled to use my training, successfully, a couple of times....However, I don’t think that’s quite the whole story. I think that it doesn’t matter a great deal if you’re empty-handed or whether you go out with a machete in one hand and a howitzer in the other. The only genuine weapon is the mind. Armies train for reasons and among those reasons is that it takes training to overcome the reflexes and inhibitions that prevent effective response to attack. Regardless of how determined you may be when fighting actually starts without serious training it’s pretty likely you’ll just freeze.The most effective form of self-defense is recognizing dangerous situations and avoiding them.
Failing that the very first line of self-defense should be flight. Preferably yelling or screaming your head off, blowing a whistle, and generally making a ruckus.Avoid being the first one to resort to violence. If your opponent is bigger or more skilled than you are you may be in for a world of hurt. And the instinctual response of your opponent to attack may be fight rather than flight. Or freezing....Avoidance is best. Then flight. "Smart advice. Miyamoto Musashi would have no doubt approved.Generally, in civilized societies you can walk around, even at night, without fear of being accosted. Unfortunately, most places in the world aren't quite up to that standard and that includes many neighborhoods in Chicago to say nothing of regions of the world where the police might be more dangerous to encounter than the criminals.
Compared to Dave's expertise, my martial arts skills are rudimentary. I studied Northern Shaolin Kung-fu for a couple of years and some kickboxing as well. I coached wrestling for a number of years and while my skills are certainly decent, a national collegiate champion managed to tie me into a pretzel in about a minute despite my being far stronger.
I'm better with firearms. I'm a crack shot with a rifle, having shot competitively through my adolescence in a club that produced two national champions. I'm also pretty good with a pistol though I have not practiced in ages and don't own one anymore. My real area of accomplishment though is in the weightroom. Depending on the grip used, I've benched 485 -545 without using any drugs, bench shirts, elbow wraps or any other training supports other than a belt. My other lifts are heavier than that and while I have made an effort to cut back a bit in terms of size ( buying suits was expensive) I'm still about 230 and that scares away a lot of potential miscreants and my strength means that when I have sparred I hit harder and tired less easily.
None of that really matters though. Anyone taken by surprise no matter how strong or skilled is in serious trouble and you have probably only a few seconds to make a life-altering or life-saving decision. Getting the hell out of there, as Dave suggests, is still the best option - even if the opponent has a gun because most people can't shoot straight beyond five to ten feet or will hesitate to shoot at all.
If you can't get away though you need to upset the opponent's game plan in some way to introduce uncertainty, the more the better. Noise, the unexpected action, fight dirty and then get away. Standing there and going toe to toe - when you can get out of there
- just to make a point by kicking ass is to look for trouble which can easily find you. All the moreso if you are introducing a firearm into the situation. Anybody who carries a gun without getting the proper training is a goddamned fool and what legally constitutes a righteous act of self-defense in Texas may get you an involuntary manslaughter charge in Illinois. I favor conceal and carry laws but I favor even more people knowing what they are doing if they opt to have a deadly weapon on hand.
Real life ain't the movies.