One of the best things about martial arts training is that, especially early on, we lose often. Whether that’s doing scenarios, whether that’s sparring, rolling, randori, etc., the fact that we lose helps us develop resilience, analyse our performance and get better over time.
That being said, if we lose over and over again, it can be a real hit to motivation and become so frustrating that we may stop training altogether.
At the same time, if you are only training in an environment where you win every single time, your training is probably unrealistic – whether that’s for self defence or combat sports. Developing the perception that you will always win can lead to developing a big ego or false confidence in your skills that can put you at risk.
We need to find a balance between winning and losing that will encourage us to grow, show us are weaknesses and motivate us to get better. So how do we do that?
Cobra Kai, the now-infamous Karate school from the Karate Kid movie franchise and the recent Netflix reboot (which is excellent, by the way) were seen as the bad guys.
Johnny, the villain in the first Karate Kid movie, was egged on by his sensei to fight dirty and do whatever it takes to win. Daniel, the hero of the movie who taught by Mr Miyagi
agy, was taught that honour and discipline is what matters.
Funnily enough, in all of the recent takes on the movies we now realise that – much like in life – there’s a little bit of black and a little bit of white, with a ton of grey in the middle.
Daniel is now often portrayed as the bully, the instigator of the now famous rivalry.
Despite the fact that Johnny was often the one to throw the first punch, he understood the lessons of Cobra Kai and how they apply to real self-defence.
Cobra Kai’s infamous motto is ‘strike first, strike hard, no mercy’. While it sounds violent, it actually has a lot of wisdom in it.
So, what is it that Cobra Kai understood so well about self-defence, and why is it that a large portion of today’s martial arts and self defence community don’t get it?
Today’s society is more divided than ever about the role and place of violence.
On one extreme, we see a segment of society who proclaim violence is evil and has absolutely no place in a civilised society whatsoever.
On the other extreme, we see a segment of society who explicitly support the use of violence as a way to resolve most arguments.
Combine this with the fact that we, as a society, are grossly misinformed and underinformed about the realities of violence. This creates unhealthy and often inaccurate polarised opinions about what violence is and where it can and should be used, if at all.
So where is the place for violence in society?
COVID-19 has seen the world change many aspects of life that were considered basics, given or even a god-given right.
It has also resulted in an increase in aggression and violence. Self defence training feels more important than ever.
Unfortunately, quarantine, isolation and contact restrictions have also limited and changed how we can train for self defence.
So how can you train for self defence in the COVID era?
What do you think is the most important element of self-defence classes?
Giving the student real self defence skills, in all their facets, is the obvious answer, but is it the first one and the only one?
Usually the argument will then go to discussion about technique, or scenarios, or the level of contact or how long it takes to get a black belt. These are all valid discussions, but often miss one important point.
Read more to find out what that point is!
Adrenaline is one of the realities of self-defence. If you have never experienced violence, you are 100% guaranteed to be adrenalized if something happens. And even if you are very experienced in dealing with violence you are likely to experience adrenal dump – you are just likely to manage it much better.
There are a couple of factors that are not discussed as often when talking about adrenaline:
1. The level of adrenaline you are experiencing
2. The effects of adrenaline on other people (attackers, people you are protecting, bystanders, first responders)
3. The root cause behind the adrenaline
These are crucial pieces to understanding what kind of situation you are dealing with, whether it can be avoided or de-escalated and how far things might go if it deteriorates into a physical confrontation.
Read on to find out why!
About 5 years ago I wrote this piece on how we perceive violence happens.
In the 5 years that have passed, many things changed, but what was discussed in that article still holds true.
Today I’m going to revisit that idea, and discuss how the language we use impacts our perception, and vice versa, and how that impacts our understanding of, and response to, violence and self-defence.
Below are some of common phrases that are often used interchangeably in self-defence classes. But are they really interchangeable?
Read on to find out!
A fight is about to start. You know it. You tried to avoid and you tried to de-escalate with no success. The person is pointing at you, shouting that he is going to punch your teeth down your throat. He is closing the distance quickly and starting to angle his body, so you know a right haymaker is coming next.
You are not worried. You’ve practiced your moves in the dojo thousands of times and you know what to do.
As he closes the distance, you shift your weight and for a front kick to push him back, like you’ve done a million times in training…
… but you lose your balance and fall on your butt. He is right on top of you, and about to try and curb stomp you into oblivion.
Where did you go wrong? Read more to find out.
Let’s start with something you (hopefully) already know. Combat sports and self-defence are not the same thing.
If you think they are, then I recommend you read this. If you still don’t believe me, then you should probably stop reading here.
At the same time, there is so much that self-defence practitioners can learn from combat sports! You can read more about this here. Again, if you still don’t believe me then you should probably stop reading here.
So, if you are still reading then hopefully, we are on the same page. So, let’s talk about some of the training methods that are useful for both, how they cross over, and at a great structure and toolkit for your training.
Ready? Read on!
So good to be writing again! It's been 3 long months.
What does ‘self defence’ mean to you?
To most people it means being able to defend themselves or their loves ones in the event of a violent attack.
And yes, that’s a pretty good reason to learn self defence.
But there’s another part to the equation, that’s just as important. Want to know what it is? Read on!