HOW REALISTIC SHOULD THE TRAINING BE? Although the two are often marketed the same, there is a distinct difference between martial arts and self-defense. All martial arts are not suited for self-defense, at least not if you want short-term results. Some arts require a lifetime to master, and some are geared toward sports rather than self-defense. You must also consider the way you train. For example:
1. Do you train for point sparring or forms competition?
2. How much contact and chaos do you implement in your 52 Blocks training?
3. What are your background, goals, and desires?
4. Have you thought about that the art you have been learning for 20 years may not be suited for self-defense in today’s society?
5. When you search for an instructor to teach you self-defense, is it appropriate for her to sell you a three-year black belt program? A martial art that is truly geared toward self- defense must teach techniques that are easy to learn and remember, and that can be applied by weaker, slower, or disadvantaged people. If you are one of these disadvantaged people, you should still be able to defend yourself without having to outfight your opponent. But just how do you know that the 52 Blocks techniques you are learning will work? Have you tested them in real-life scenarios or realistic simulations? You will most likely get hurt to some degree in a real encounter. A good self-defense program must therefore include how to deal with the pain of physical contact. Your instructor must help you analyze how attacks happen and how you might react. What types of attacks are the most common? How do they start? How do they escalate? In a short self-defense course, you might want to focus on learning a few select techniques that will eliminate the need to drill the basics for months.
If you study together with a wide variety of people, your instructor may have to tailor the instruction to fit each student’s individual needs. For example:
1. A small person may not be able to throw a powerful strike, because he lacks the bodyweight to produce significant momentum. However, he may be able to use balance manipulation techniques more effectively, because they do not rely on physical strength to the same degree.
2. A properly applied joint lock is devastating and causes extreme pain. But how easy is it to apply it properly in chaotic situations? If a person with small hands tries to apply a joint lock on an assailant with large wrists, will the bigger person simply twist out of the lock before any damage is done?
It has been said that size and strength don’t matter in the martial arts. My opinion is that size and strength do matter. Sure, there are certain targets that your opponent cannot flex: his eyeballs, eardrums, and testicles, for example. But you must still be in a position to strike to these targets, and you will still be in danger when getting into position to do so. How likely is it for a tiny female, a disabled person, or even a strong young man to succeed against a huge street thug when taken by surprise? What about the martial artist with 15 years of training and three black belts? How likely is she to succeed in a real street encounter? The answer to this question may lie in how she has trained, how much she has thought about the possibility of getting attacked, and what kind of attitude she has developed.