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?
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.
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!
$hit Happens. All the time. To everyone.
We watch the news and see a story about someone getting mugged, assaulted, sucker punched, raped, murdered.
But that stuff happens to other people. I lock my doors at night, and I have insurance. Besides, I don’t live in that part of town and I don’t associate with those sorts of people.
And then what do you say?
One of the things I discuss often is the separation between combat sports, martial arts and self-defence (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, read this).
Self-defence practitioners often exclaim that combat sports and martial arts are NOT the same as self-defence, and indeed there is plenty of evidence to support this claim.
On the other hand, combat sports and martial arts practitioners will always claim their stuff is effective for self-defence.
Me? I tend to sit right in the middle on this one. Do they overlap? Yes. Are there transferable skills? Absolutely! Are they identical? Absolutely not.
But can they be?
Violence ain’t pretty.
We’ve all seen violence at some point or another, though surely to different extents. If you haven’t then you are either very, very sheltered or very, very lucky (or both).
With YouTube and social media is now easier than ever to get access to millions of examples of what real, ugly violence looks like. I invite you think of the first time you saw someone get knocked out violently or stabbed, whether in real life or the net.
What was your response?
Chances experienced a bit of adrenalin and some anxiety or stress. Perhaps you simply couldn’t watch the whole thing. It probably left you feeling out of sorts for a little while after it finished.
Now imagine this happening to you in real life.
Would you have the tools to deal with the trauma of real-world violence?