When asked what I do, I face almost constantly the quizzical look, trying to decipher what I meant by “teaching combatives”. Then comes the inevitable clarifier, “oh, you teach martial arts?” Well no. Not even close. At least not in the way that the VAST majority of people teach martial arts today, and what martial arts have become. You see they have become a sport. You can compete in today’s martial arts, and that is not what a “martial” art was about at all when it first evolved.
When martial arts were first formed they were to train people to kill the opponent. The structure of a sporting martial arts base came when most sides trained in similar arts and so competitions could be held because there are always counters to predictable sets. This evolved from when Traditional Military Spartan Pankration, by many accounts the genesis of modern eastern arts, held competitions where status was conferred based on who died first. Gradually we have seen the necessity of combat be restricted to military groups and the citizenry gradually declines to dependency on others to protect them be it feudal Japan or Europe or modern day reliance on 911.
The martial arts of today proclaim things like using the aggressor’s energy against him or develop self-defense that, according to a martial artist in an interview in the North Country Pennysaver, does not injure and other person – not even your attacker. This is the kind of statement that makes me cringe and fills me with contempt for people who seek to teach people to defend themselves with material that can’t work because the intent isn’t there. I do not know if this man has any field ventures other than his extensive teaching career, but as both an educator and someone with many years of experience in asocial environments, I would ask him to think back to any real life-and-death experiences he has had, consider them and ask how they ended. Search your conscience as well because telling people they can stop criminal attack without hurting someone is, in my humble opinion, tantamount to setting them up for being murdered or beaten.
If you do not intend to hurt the person who is intent on hurting you, which by the way is the defining feature of an asocial attack, then you will be the victim. You do not have to hate the person or even judge them as persons, but you do have to recognize the intent and respond in kind. The only weapon that an assailant carries that is dangerous is their mind. Only their mind can formulate intent and then cause the body to take action to make it happen. Guns, knives and such are only effective as force amplifiers if the mind is in control of the body.
Watching the videos on the site of the instructor and his partner is to witness a non-fiction translation of Jim Carrey’s famous knife defense class on IN LIVING COLOR. Predetermined responses to predetermined attacks that follow the rule of “you do this and I will do this and then….” The reality is that virtually all martial arts train unrealistically for real life situations. On the street you do not have the ability to ask your opponent to attack in the particular way which your best defense is suited to repel.
The part that really scares me is people will believe this guy. They will throw away time money and develop false ideas about what asocial violence and real trauma are about and then…then they will get hurt. Or killed. Or raped, abducted, car jacked, etc.
The false sense of safety instilled by people who may have good intent in their teaching serves only to create victims because they are operating under false pretense. It also makes their students tend towards lax situational awareness and instills in them a confidence to perhaps venture where they shouldn’t because they overestimate their skill level. When an instructor gives out false or sport-based methodology to fight asocially violent attacks, that they might as well take their clients to a crack house, put a hundred in cash in their pocket, announce the fact to everyone there and shove them out the car while calling 911 to pick up the remains. Misleading and misrepresenting what it takes to survive in a truly asocial event is reckless endangerment and perhaps more akin to manslaughter or second degree murder.
This kind of teaching, to defend (reactive) rather than protect (proactive) guts the essence of what martial arts was intended to be and is in direct opposition to those people who teach real combatives. If only criminals can inflict trauma then only criminals can survive an asocial encounter. Teach the horrible reality of what asocial violence is so your clients never want to posture, or needlessly challenge another, or fight out of ego. On the flip side they will not have to fear criminals, because they know what is required to survive. Putting trauma with the intent to harm the person attacking is simple, direct and devastating but the mindset to choose to do that needs the truth of the issue to present itself so the decision becomes firmly rooted and instinctively accepted.