Thursday, April 8, 2010

Self-Defense Classes in Phoenix East Valley

Knife Defense training at self-defense
clinic at the University of Wyoming.
It was spring. I was walking across campus at the University of New Mexico on my way to the parking lot after teaching a martial arts class at the Student Union, when two individuals walked straight at me and ran into me. I turned around and mentioned something about their ancestors. This was what they were looking for and they came at me. I had never seen these two before and not sure why they decided to attack me.

The one on my left stepped into neko ashi dachi (猫足立, what martial artists refer to as a Cat's stance). The one on my right was holding a knife in his hand, but mostly hidden at his right side.

My instinct was to take the first thug on the left. Warnings went through my mind that he must be a martial artist. I was not scared, but relaxed. My years of training had taken over and things started to move slowly.

The left attacker threw a right hook. Immediately, my mind went into the mode of mushin - something martial artists develop over time. My thoughts, although were moving at the speed of light, seem to slow to a snail's pace. It was as if I could just step to the side and analyze everything, and then step back into combat when I was ready. I was not thinking just responding, yet I was thinking, but not thinking how I would respond - so I left it up to my muscle memory, or years of karate experience.
Classical knife defense using Te Waza (hand throw proceeded by
a strike to the jaw or kick to the chest.
As the right hook came in, my thoughts again told me that he must not really be a martial artist - martial arts teaches more powerful punches that shoot straight into a target, such as tsuki (突き). I easily blocked his hook with uchi uke (also referred to as uchi ude uke) or what is known as outward block. This was followed by his front kick (mae geri) - which I blocked with a downward palm heel block (osae uke or teisho uke). As he was throwing a left hook, I followed my downward block with three straight punches (tsuki) and hit him under the nose, in the neck and on the left eye. He lost all of his balance and started to slump to the right, like the leaning tower of Pisa. He could not right himself and finally collapsed. Next I had to deal with his partner and the knife .....

Teaching self-defense to individuals or groups who have never trained in self-defense is very rewarding. To see people discover how they can use elbows, palms of their hands, feet, fingers, thumbs, knees, car keys, books, computers, purses, backpacks, skateboards, body weight, etc for the first time is as exciting for them as it is a pleasure for me. To see the expression on people's faces when they successfully use a technique for the first time is a tremendous boost to their confidence.

Sensei Kyle Linton defends knife attack by Hanshi Andy Finley at University
of Wyoming clinic.
Over the years, I found that teaching a similar technique for a variety of attacks is best for the novice. This makes it easier for their muscles to remember how to defend. Muscles? Memory? Yes, in traditional karate we teach students that they have muscle memory, and to be successful in self-defense, you cannot think, you have to learn to react. And this is where self-defense clinics fail.
Self-defense clinics are usually for only one night. In the past, I taught classes and clinics in self-defense for women at the University of Wyoming and elsewhere. I tell all of these students that they must plan to practice the self-defense applications for the rest of their lives, as kata (shadow boxing) and periodically with friends - otherwise, the state of mushin (not thinking) will likely not be achieved. So all they have to do, is each week when they go to the gym (or exercise in their front rooms) is warm up with their own personal kata and imagine an attacker grabbing their wrist, etc, and then they must strike back as I taught them in the clinic or class - with power and focus.

Teaching white crane karate at the University of Wyoming, Soke Hausel
leads group in crane wings technique in kata followed by teching bunkai
(applications) of this and other techniques.
One of the simplest and more powerful weapons we have are elbows. Thus it is much easier for students to learn how to use their elbows against a variety of attacks - such as wrist grabs, lapel grabs, chokes, strikes, etc. Complex techniques are useless to the lay-person: few will ever remember how to defend themselves using complex techniques during a stressful situation, so techniques must be realistic and simple.

As an example. Get a friend (and be very careful) to grab your right wrist. Next (do this slow as some people get accidentally hit in the chin) step in with right foot and bring your right elbow straight up towards their chin. This should work fairly easily because the aggressor has a weak point in their hand. You have just learned your first self-defense technique. You can use this same technique for double wrist grabs, lapel grabs bear hugs from the front, etc.
All people should have training in pragmatic self-defense. It has been said that an armed society is a polite society.
If we all were trained in hand to hand self-defense, I suspect the number of attacks would decline. Imagine listening to the 10 o'clock news & hearing about a small, thin, young woman being attacked by a large male, and during the attack the male was incapacitated by focused strikes leaving an injured thug for the police to pick up and take into custody. Or if a sleazy politician was bruised by his aid while trying to grope her or him. If we were to hear these stories on the nightly news, our society would become more polite and there would be a dramatic decline in attacks.

Statistics from several years ago reported ~25% of all college women will experience some form of sexual assault by the time they graduate! If we started teaching our children traditional martial arts in public schools, they would become experts in self-defense, obesity would decline and most people would learn to respect one another. We need to change our schools environment and start sending our kids and family members to train in traditional martial arts classes and keep them there! Or better still, bring martial arts to the schools as they do in Japan and in some places in India.

University Students take advantage of
free self-defense clinic taught by Hall of
Fame Soke Hausel and sponsored by
grants from ASUW
This may sound extreme, but it can be very beneficial in learning proper self-defense, self-confidence, making sure that you are always prepared, and keep you in good shape for life. Remember all of those hours you put into the gym in a aerobics class – if you instead did this in a karate class, you would be in better shape and also be able to defend yourself, and it could be just as fun.

Wouldn't you feel much better walking across campus at night, or to the bus stop, or just getting into your car at the grocery store if you had trained in martial arts all your life. You would realize, without thinking, that your car-keys are an effective weapon, or your geology book could leave a sizable indent on some one's hand, or simply using a cross-scissor strike (a very simple technique developed by a Chinese female centuries ago by watching white cranes) on some one's neck, they would fold like a paper doll and collapse to the ground.
Science shows that you can burn about 1000 calories per session of martial arts training compared to 500 calories for many aerobics classes. Yet you have the benefit of also learning how to defend yourself.

With proper training, you can learn to defend against most attacks, but it requires commitment. You must practice, practice practice. You must get to the point where you can defend yourself by NOT THINKING. This can only be done by constant training.

If you think you can learn to defend yourself by attending aerobic kickboxing classes, you are sadly mistaken. A few years ago, I was asked to teach kickboxing at Gold’s Gym. The women were surprised by my tactics – I unplugged the stereo and asked if any of them could defend against a simple wrist grab – none could. I then proceeded to teach them how to defend against a multitude of grabs using techniques that were very similar to one another. And I was shocked (as were they) that the previous instructor had misled them by telling them they were learning self-defense.

Self-defense requires continual training. Of all of my students, several of my females have been notable standouts. These people made a lifetime commitment to training in martial arts. All it takes is one attack to change your entire life – so you must always be prepared for that one attack.

Two of my favorite yudansha students. Here,
Katie places Kris's face into the mat with a simple
arm bar. Katie was just one of several female students
I taught over the years who looked to be frail & cute,
but she loved to work over the guys. One of my other
students actually quit training in jujutsu because he was
afraid of Katie.
It is common knowledge that one will defend in the manner they train. So to be able to defend yourself – you must train hard and train with power and focus. The one major benefit in sport martial arts is the teaching of reaction to movement, which is hard to duplicate without kumite (sparring). So there must be a trade-off, unless one is willing to practice full-contact martial arts. If you can learn to react to movement with very powerful blocks, strikes and kicks, you are doing very well.

Ask yourself when you exercise while punching and kicking. If I were to strike someone with a single punch, would it knock them out? If you answer no, I'm not sure, or I don't know - you likely do not have the proper power to defend yourself.
My recommendation is to visit the school you might be interested in, and watch a class and talk to the instructor. Does the instructor seem to be personable and competent? If not, look elsewhere, you must be able to get along with your sensei (instructor). This is one of the more important aspects of martial arts.

After I had been teaching martial arts for about 30 years, I taught a clinic to a group of taekwondo black belts. These people ranged from 1st degree black belt to 5th degree black belt and all of them taught at various martial arts schools in western Wyoming and eastern Idaho. They all were very good martial artists and we had a great time training - at noon when we took a break, the owner of the school where the clinic was held, handed out IB profin to all of the class members - they were putting a lot of energy into training – but none of them had ever trained in street self-defense prior to that clinic! They had a wonderful time learning to use their hands for self-defense and two even became my students.
Self-Defense training for members
of the UW ROTC program
Taekwondo is a great martial art, but many of the sport clubs focus too much on their kicks and competition - which is fine if this is your intention. But there are also traditional taekwondo clubs that essentially practice Shotokan and or Shorin-Ryu karate, which can be a powerful martial art. Still, few arts can match the tremendous kicks in taekwondo - but we also have hands. In karate, it is nearly the opposite of taekwondo as one focuses much more on their arms for self-defense.
So how does one identify traditional martial arts from a sport martial arts? If you start training in a dojo (school) and you see many trophies, you are in a sport school. If you hear music during training, you are in a sport school.

I was told by one student about a sucker punch - the only time he had ever been decked. The attacker came up to him to apologize, grabbed his hand to shake & threw a hook with the other hand while he was distracted by the apology & handshake. This could happen to anyone. So, it is best that you train for such situations over and over.

If you are interested in traditional martial arts, research the Internet for starters. Personally, I would look for schools with considerable Okinawan/Japanese lineage; but this is my personal bias. Schools like Shorin-Ryu, Shito-Ryu, Goju-Ryu, Wado-Ryu, Kyokushinkai, Shotokan are usually good.

Successful self defense requires good physical fitness and constant practice with force (must be able to react without thinking). Martial arts teach self confidence, physical fitness, focus, and respect. As a result, we often receive groups from around the world who are interested in learning our system of martial arts along with many beginners.
We call this technique - cowboy pole
dancing. The attacker is quickly
immobilized and forced to ride his
own arm as his head is driven into the wall -
 see how this works at
One must continue to practice the rest of their lives. We especially focus on women's social groups, church groups, airline attendant associations, clubs, sororities, teachers, etc. We teach them to use some pressure points to aid in self defense.

The human body has nearly 400 pressure points (i.e., a point below the ears, temple, eyes, soft area behind collar bone, base of neck, groin). We also train our female martial artists to use any weapon available to them and strike some of these points. For instance: 1. car keys, 2. key chain, 3. pen, pencil, 4. fingernails, 5. spare change, 6. rings, 7. glasses, 8. shoes, 9. umbrella, 10. Mace, hair spray, 11. pocketknife, fingernail file, 12. book, brief case, purse, magazine, 13. student I.D., credit card, 14. comb, hair brush, 15. manrikigasari (chain or rope), 16. belt, 17. Even your cell phone – it has edges that are hard and can be put to use. But the best weapons available for any martial artist or person are those that God gave us: open hand, palm, fist, back fist, fingers, knuckles, elbow, knee, foot.
To find the right instructor – look at the instructor’s diplomas. Search the Internet for information on the school and the instructor, talk to some of the students, watch a class, see if you feel comfortable with this person. There are no international committees that require registration of martial arts instructors, so check out the instructor where you plan to train. There is no government oversight on martial arts certification (thank God!), and it is common knowledge that the majority of instructors are not certified by any legitimate martial arts association - many have no certifications, and others have certifications sold to them by unethical organization.

If you would like to have a good introduction to self-defense and are located in the Phoenix East Valley, you and 5 (or more) of your friends or neighbors can schedule a 2-hour self-defense clinic. All you need to do is to get each person to pay $25 and you can schedule your own clinic at our school. I look forward to hearing from you.

The Arizona School of Traditional Karate is located along the south edge of Mesa and northern edge of Gilbert, Arizona. The Arizona School of Traditional Karate focuses primarily on adults and families.

Oh, by the way, after I had finished the first attacker in Albuquerque, the second one lost all of his desire to attack. I ordered him to drop his knife and then allowed him to step in to assist his partner in crime. After seeing what had happened to his partner, I guess he didn't want to take the chance of something similar happening to himself.

This happened in 1975 while I was working on a PhD under Dr. Burt Kudo in the Department of Geology and Geophysics and had been a nidan black belt (2nd degree black belt). I suspect those two never attacked another person.
Soke Hausel demonstrates knife defense on Shihan-Dai Kyle Gewecke
(4th dan) at University of Wyoming
white crane karate clinic in 2010.
For myself, martial arts became a way of life for me and I worked my way up through the ranks. I was inducted into my first Hall-of-Fame in 1998 and then in 1999, I received the highest honor in martial arts. I was certified as Soke shodai (宗家) of Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai (西洋少林流空手道). Sokeshodai is the world head, or grandmaster, something I never thought was a possibility for me. By 2012, I had been inducted into 16 Halls of Fame as well as Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World.

For more information – see:


Map to Dojo

Our center is open to the public. Learn the traditions of Okinawan Karate & Kobudo & how we are trying to make this world a better place, one person at a time at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate.

We introduce meditation, philosophy, Japanese and martial arts history in our karate & kobudo classes at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate.

CLASS SCHEDULE: Check out our schedule and stop by and watch a class.

Even though our address is 60 W. Baseline Rd, we are actually at the NE corner of MacDonald - just off of Baseline in Mesa.

We offer clinics and seminars for businesses, associations, clubs, social groups, church groups, sororities, teachers associations, etc. You can call us at 480-545-5578 to schedule a class, clinic or seminar for your group. We reserve the right to refuse training to anyone.

We have some of the lowest rates in the East Valley.
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