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Self Defence? You're having a laugh.

If I asked a selection of people why they trained in martial arts, I’m sure that many of them would come out with the classic “self defence” line. It’s a motivation for many and a massive, massive selling point for those wishing to make money from teaching the martial arts. What, after all, is more primal than the urge to defend yourself, your home, your family, your possessions? Perhaps the sexual urge might win out, and there’s a link there too but since I’m not writing a psychology paper and I’m sure you already feel uncomfortable and seedy reading my blog so I’ll gloss over it. People, and there shouldn’t be any surprise here, want your money, and they’re willing to do almost anything short of murder to get it from you. If that means manipulating a few facts, surveys and telling a few porky pies, then so be it. This is a business no matter how people might protest it isn’t. It’s the business of telling people what to be afraid of. Afraid of being attacked? We have the course for you. Sign here please. Not afraid of being attacked? You should be, and here’s why. Still not convinced? You’re delusional.

Sarcasm aside, I wonder what the chances are of me having to defend myself? Does anyone know? I certainly don’t, and I’ve read the crime statistics, yet there are people out there selling “self defence” courses to people for exorbitant fees who claim the likelihood is high enough to warrant you parting with a sizeable chunk of your hard earned cash to waylay it. Most of these courses are of the short-term kind (weekends, 6 weeks of 2 hours per week), which as anyone who has attempted to learn how to fight for real will tell you, is more or less useless. Let’s leave aside the quality of training for a moment. I’m assuming the general standard of instruction is excellent here, for the sake of this argument, however the evidence I have seen suggests the opposite, in general, is true.

What is actually being sold? Why are people doing these courses? I’m going to tell you what I think, obviously, but you may have a different opinion. What is being sold is essentially a monopoly card. Something to cling to so that you can go about your business and when the situation demands it, produce the card and get out of jail free. It’s the 21st response to pretty much everything.” Right, I’ve done the travelling, so that’s an anecdote for parties sorted, I have a car, pretty good job, time to tick off that ‘learn how to fight’ box. I can do it over a weekend? Even better.” I did hear someone once describe it as being like a first aid course. You learn, you go away and should the situation ever demand it, you’ll be ready. What a crock, and what a disservice to first aid. Ostensibly though, the argument adds up. Both can be done in a weekend, both for emergencies, however one factor is neglected. First aid is taught in such a way that, and I mean no offence here, an idiot can do it. All you really need to do is remember a few simple rules and you could make a huge difference in case of an accident. The saying goes “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”, and that’s why they don’t teach non-doctors like you and me how to do tracheotomies on people suffering from anaphylactic shock, or how to move a patient with a spinal injury for transport. Instead, they teach us to make the patient comfortable and ensure no further complications occur. And a massive portion of the course is given over to how to contact the emergency services properly and communicate the case to them. The course doesn’t teach you how to be a paramedic, which would be a closer analogy to teaching someone how to defend themselves in 2 days.

Don’t have nightmares, do sleep well.


3 thoughts on “Self Defence? You're having a laugh.

  1. I used to do a bit of Karate.
    As an adult, mind. Lots of Kata, pre-arranged Kumite, the usual hoedown.

    I found that the further I got, and the more I learned, the less capable I felt about the prospect of a fight.

    Thinking back I feel that it was a kind of mystical version of what one might see at a self defence course. “If someone does this, then you respond with….” followed by some routine.
    The catch being that it never becomes instinctive.
    Maybe cos its not practised in the unpredictable environment of a fight? I mean can a controlled environment like a Self Defence class that prepare you for an attack?

    I became convinced that I would never develop the reactions and quick thinking that you see with even a mediocre competitive fighter would display. This coupled with changes in location made it difficult to keep up practice with the Japanese Blackbelt who was teaching me. Ergo I quit.

    Funnily enough, I don’t worry about getting into fights like I did while I was doing Karate.

    Not sure if its really relevant, but reading your post made me think about it.

    Posted by Stylesmarino | January 25, 2010, 12:31 pm
  2. One of the best things I’ve read on this blog. Fair play. Might make for an interesting topic on boards?

    Posted by Charlie | January 25, 2010, 3:08 pm
  3. Stylesmarino I think it’s very relevant, and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Schools and “masters” like that survive because of a lack of critical analysis. If you posessed then what you do now, you’d probably have walked out early doors.

    Charlie, I think maybe they have a few topics like that already on boards :), but feel free to link to this at any stage.

    Posted by Barry Oglesby | January 25, 2010, 10:45 pm

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