|Training in self-defense at the Arizona Hombu dojo - Suzette defends against an attack with tonfa (side-handle batons),|
defending against sansetsukon (3-sectional staff) attack by Lexi at the Arizona Hombu dojo in the East Valley of Phoenix
In traditional martial arts, there is never an end to learning. It is amazing how much there is to learn - so much that one cannot learn it all in one lifetime. There is still a lot more to learn - including martial arts history, different kobudo and samurai weapons, many forms (kata), Okinawan language, philosophy, better physical fitness, meeting more people in the martial arts etc. In our martial art, we have many PhDs and nearly everyone is a college graduate and many work as engineers, doctors, lawyers, scientists, accountants, school teachers, soldiers, pilots, physical therapists, nutritionists, personal trainers, computer techs, etc. Why so many highly educated people in our traditional martial arts school? It's because we all realize how much there is to learn. And our school has a positive environment that is favorable to learning. And the world head of this martial art was a kyoju no budo (professor of martial arts) at four universities over the past 50 years.
Our classes as entertaining and the focus is on techniques that work for almost anyone - simple things like defending with elbows, knees, the palm-heel of the hand, car keys, a fork, spoon, pepper shaker, rock, magazine, pen, etc.
To be able to defend yourself, you should learn good and practical self-defense, learn it well, and practice it every week for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, people think they can just take a course at a college or local martial arts school and then they are ready to defend themselves. Before you start in a self-defense curriculum, first find out a little about the instructor and school - there are a lot of fly by nights out there and you have to be cautious - so just do a quick internet search on the school name and the instructor. Next, you need a new affirmation. Your affirmation is going to need to include training (exercising) for the rest of your life - not just one semester or one class. This is a lifetime commitment that will keep you healthy - just like going to the gym only better - you are not only burning a lot of calories, but you are also learning how to defend yourself!
To be successful in self-defense, it must be second nature. There are lots of crazies out there - not just politicians, but you know the other types - they are everywhere - Congress, drug addicts, etc. Here are a couple of things to think about before beginning a self-defense program:
This is not as bad as you might think! Actually, its great! It is a great exercise program and stress reliever. So, you will no longer have to go to a gym - you can burn more calories in karate and self-defense classes and make new friends. The nice thing about 'traditional' karate as opposed to other forms of martial arts is that the Okinawan martial artists who developed the art focused on kata and bunkai. Kata are living encyclopedia of self-defense techniques - it is like dancing or shadow boxing, so you can practice most of the time on your own if you are so inclined. Our instructor told us a story about when he was working in the outback of Alaska nearly 30 years ago, searching for gold. Wearing mosquito netting from head to toe, he practiced karate every other day, just like he has for nearly 60 years. So, it can be done. The bunkai are the self-defense techniques that make up the kata. So practice kata in your home and at the dojo and you will also be learning self-defense.
You must learn to react to movement without thinking using full force and devastating focus we martial artists call ki. The reason for this is simple. During an attack, you will be under stress unless you are well prepared. If you do not react to movement but instead try to judge which hand or foot a person is going to attack with, you will be in a lot of trouble. Imagine a thug is harassing you and you have to defend yourself. You stop and think "I'll block his RIGHT punch with my left hand and then kick". Then you discover he is left handed! If you were properly trained to react to movement, you would not be lying on the ground on your back with a broken jaw.
|Weekly traditional karate and kobudo classes at the Arizona Hombu dojo in|
Mesa Arizona provide adults (and families) with muscle memory through
kata (forms) practice. Students are
taught how to break down kata so every single movement in
becomes a self-defense application known to Okinawan
practitioners as bunkai. When properly taught,
"these kata become living encyclopedia of self-defense applications."
If you are taking karate or taekwondo, and you do not understand what each
move in every kata is for, you may be in the wrong martial arts school. Nearly
all traditional Okinawan karate schools focus on the bunkai or self-defense
If you do not learn self-defense, you may want to learn how to use a gun, pepper spray, etc. But remember, you can not always get to these; whereas your hands and feet are always with you. And if you are a school teacher - forget it, they will not let you carry weapons - or will they? If you are trained in traditional karate, you have your feet, elbows, hands and knees - that are attached!