You walk into the dojo and tentatively go up to your instructor when you see he has a spare minute. In a hushed tone, almost apologetic, you ask the following question:
“I tried what we learned in class on my [boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/mum/dad/friend] and it didn’t work. What was I doing wrong?”
This is a question I have seen and heard many times, and have also asked a couple of times when I first started training.
The people asking it can approach it in a variety of different ways. Some are almost apologetic, because they believe they didn’t do it right. Others are angry or upset, claiming that ‘it’ doesn’t work.
If you’ve ever tried something you learned in a martial arts or self defence class on a friend and it didn’t work, or if you’re an instructor who has heard this question, and you want to know what you did wrong, read on.
At the start of 2018, one of my goals was to ensure I put out one blog every 2 weeks, which is output that I’ve been able to fairly steadily maintain in 2017. If you are a regular reader, then you may have noticed this has certainly not been the case over the past 6 months.
I’ve always found this hard to talk about, but a close friend and mentor has suggested I put this stuff out and hopefully it will help me sort some stuff out in my brain. I thought I’d share with you some of the reasons I haven’t been writing, and hopefully this will help me get some stuff off my chest and maybe help shed some light one how this also relates to training. This also leads to important questions about self defence and the survival mindset.
Let’s start at the beginning.
In the first three parts of this series, we looked at some interesting characters you might train with (here are parts one, two and three). In part four (read it here), we looked at some fo the interesting teachers you might come across when training in the martial arts.
Let’s look at a few more grandiose grandmasters, tapped teachers and lunatic leaders in the martial arts!
My usual disclaimer: This is not directed at you. Yeah, you. This is stuff that I’ve seen and experienced and, at times, have also been. Enjoy!
In The Many Faces of the Dojo series (here are the links to parts one, two and three) we got to meet some of the interesting people who we train with. They are the people we train with each week. They enrich our experiences, make us laugh and sometimes also get on our nerves, all of which are parts of training!
But what about the people who actually teach the classes?
Today we are going to meet some of the insane instructors, surreal senseis and crazy coaches you may encounter on your martial arts journey.
In the previous three posts I discussed some important issues concerning situational awareness and its importance. The first article discussed the importance of developing situational awareness as a key to the prevention of violence. The second article discussed why some people don’t listen to their gut instinct, with some entertaining and amazing stories to show both terrible awareness and excellent, literally life-saving awareness. The third article gave you some tips to help you know what danger might look like so you can identify it in time.
Now that you know why it's important and what you need to look for, I am going to give you some simple and effective tools that can help you develop and improve your situational awareness.
A little, but important, explanation first. The reason I refer to these as games is not to downplay their importance, but rather to emphasise the fact that this kind of training doesn't have to be scary, hard or cumbersome. It can be a lot of fun, and can challenge you in fun and interesting ways.
Here we go!
In the previous two posts I discussed some important issues concerning situational awareness and its importance.
The first article discussed the importance of developing situational awareness as a key to the prevention of violence.
The second article discussed why some people don’t listen to their gut instinct, with some entertaining and amazing stories to show both terrible awareness and excellent, literally life-saving awareness.
Before we get into how to develop better situational awareness, I think it’s important to stop and identify the situational awarness trap; we are often told we need to develop it, that it's important, that it can save your life... And that's all true. We may evn be given some tips on how to develop this (I'll discuss this int he next article). But even with all of this in mind, do you know what to look for?
There has been a lot of discussion recently on the effectiveness of and need for situational awareness. I believe that simply put, environmental and situational awareness are probably the most effective tools that we, as individuals, have for predicting violent attacks and keeping ourselves safe.
Yet this is not always a popular view. Here is an interesting article on this topic.
In this piece we’ll explore some of the common mistakes people make with regards to situational awareness, as well as why they make them. Before I go on, I’d like to ask you sit down and take 10 minutes and read this all the way through. If nothing else, there’s a cool story at the end.
A couple of weeks ago a young comedian by the name of Eurydice Dixon was raped and murdered walking home from a gig. The man who raped and murdered her followed her for nearly 7 kms from the gig until he found an opportunity to strike in a soccer field only several hundred meters from her home.
Police later issued a statement saying people should be aware of their surroundings.
This statement sparked a massive outcry from people labelling this statement as victim blaming.
Let’s talk about this a little bit. If you are on the overly sensitive side, you may not like what I have to say, so I advise you to close this web page and go look at pictures of fluffy bunnies or read some fairy tales about a perfect world. If, on the other hand, you are an open-minded adult and posses some common sense, read on.
Fighters and martial artists always talk about ‘heart’, or warrior spirit.
It is an unquantifiable quality. Natural for some people, and not natural for others.
It is the ability to keep fighting - to even fight more fiercely - even though you know the battle may have been lost. The ability to stare pain, or defeat, or fear right in the eye – which really means staring into the proverbial mirror – and say, sometimes quietly and sometimes in a loud voice, that you will not stop fighting.
Simply put, it is the strength of character to not give up even though you may want to.
This is a short, true story about heart. I hope it brings you some hope.
Sensei Gershon Ben Keren recently released this excellent blog on what Krav Maga can adopt from combat sports. I thought this was a particularly important piece (amongst his many excellent writings) as it highlights something that is often sorely lacking in Krav Maga, which I touched on here.
Too often martial arts and combat sports are dismissed in the purist self-defence circles (and no, those three things are not the same – more on this here). These criticisms range from painfully accurate to wildly fantastical, but at their core they are mostly the same: ‘that won’t work in the street’.
But there are many things that can be learned from martial arts and combat sports and applied in self defence. I’ve written about this extensively in the blogs above. This is what Sensei Ben Keren highlighted in the piece above as well.
But let’s look at the specifics. What specifically can we learn from combat and martial sports that can be applied in self defence?