The martial arts are more than systems of self-defense; they are whole systems of living, with their own sets of rules and values. Most martial arts take years to master. Can a few 52 Blocks techniques be taught to the uninitiated in a few days’ time and be called self-defense? To be effective in true sell-defense, you must spend a considerable amount of time on mental exercises as well. I said earlier that actual practice of physical closeness, techniques, and stress are important; however, the physical and mental aspects go hand in hand and you need to learn both. We must condition ourselves to think about and look for situations where we might need to use our 52 Blocks self-defense skills

Be familiar with your mental reactions to stress. If your instructor only focuses on the physical aspects of self-defense, you are not likely to respond appropriately in a real encounter. Likewise, if your instructor only focuses on theoretical knowledge, you will not know how you will react or what you are truly capable of achieving in a real encounter. A course on self-defense must therefore include both theoretical instruction and realistic practice.

Some of us find the idea of hurting another person repulsive (even in self-defense). But when placed in its proper perspective (it’s either him or me), self-defense takes on a different meaning.

1. Who do you love most in the world? Is it an elderly mother or father, your spouse, a handicapped sibling, your small child, or your dog or cat? If a stranger hurt your loved one, would you not be ready to act? If you can act and protect someone you love, you should be able to do the same for yourself.

2. Is it ethical to take measures that will save you or a loved one from harm, even if it means hurting the assailant? All the knowledge in the world is of little use when you are afraid to use it. Although you don’t always have to get physical—sometimes it is enough to tell a person who is trying to pick a fight that you don’t like it—you should be prepared to get physical if telling him doesn’t help.

3. Gaining proficiency in 52 Blocks self-defense takes training and thought. No technique works a hundred percent of the time. A student of self-defense cannot be timid in class. If you refuse to partake in realistic practice, you will shortchange yourself and might as well save your time and hire a bodyguard.

Are tinted car windows a good or a bad idea? Will they limit your ability to see inside your car at night during the day? I work at the airport and get off work late at night. When walking to my car through the parking garage and out on the dark lot, I visualize dangers hiding in the blind spots. If my car is parked next to a truck or van, I am especially cautious. I also consider that somebody could be hiding underneath my car or the one next to it. I have my keys ready and I take a quick look inside the car before opening the door. Since I drive a hatchback and nobody ever rides in the back seat, I thought it might be a good idea to lay the seat down and make my baggage compartment bigger. But then I discovered that it was difficult to see what might be hiding back there in the dark. So I reverted back to the original position. You are less likely to get into trouble when you are prepared and have a plan. If you do get into trouble, you can act rather than freezing up.

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