Much frowned upon by the more experienced martial artist is the notion and complete fallacy that an exponent of the martial arts is also an expert of self-defence. The environment of self-defence in which he /she practices is nowhere near the type of environment in which he/she is likely to be attacked.

A trained martial artist may have the ability to stay calm and react effectively in some situations but please don’t make the mistake of thinking you are a trained self-defence expert. You probably are not. Of course, there are some systems that will equip you better than others in the event of an unprovoked physical encounter but, it is near impossible to get a practice area or situation to compare with the real thing.

In this scenario a young man is walking up a flight of stairs to his third floor apartment head down looking at his mobile phone duffle bag over his shoulder. It’s been a long day he thought to himself. Suddenly with no warning he is approached by two men one armed with a knife. Give us your bag and phone or I’ll cut you up mate.

This scenario would induce strong feelings in any one of us adrenaline dump, faster heart rate, fear etc. This highlights the common factor that unprovoked attacks like the one described that in the real-world there is no time for warm-ups, bouncing around sparring or a loose-fitting karate gi. Traditional dojo goes through endless repetitions of basics (kihon waza) kata and kumite drills on wooden floors in a well- lit dojo.

However, this is not self-defence. Because, without situational awareness training plus, environmental considerations that may pose a potential threat to you or your loved ones then you are not fully practicing self-defence or self-protection as it is also referred too. Unfortunately, all this cannot be replicated in the dojo safe environment, or all the different types of physical attack that some people have been subjected too.

Therefore, when you train in your chosen martial art in order to ensure true readiness constant and strong alertness try to progressively introduce situational conditions in order to closely replicate the types of attacks you face outside the dojo environment or comfort zone.

For instance, try training outside if possible combining all the things that have been mentioned previously. Put on a pair of tight jeans or skirt now, try to do a high round house kick to your opponents head not, so easy now is it? Not practical either and should never be attempted in a street confrontation anyway. Bring some reality into your training. Training outside especially in the rain or snow can also help develop a means of understanding of the environment and situational development as well as, the ability to apply your skills under not so normal conditions.

Once you or your students begin to understand the situational considerations and solutions your training will take on a whole new meaning. It’s fine doing kata and its applications but a real-fight is a different matter altogether. Remember, styles don’t win fights. Such changes can introduce students to aspects of training they never realised existed or needed to know-about. Continue training in the same way can breed complacency and that could put you at risk. Don’t forget, where talking real self-defence here. Un-realistic training can give you a false sense of security and as a result put you in danger. What’s more, the dojo is not some back alley of an inner city so balance is important and application of the many situations you may find yourself in to ensure maximum skill growth application as a martial artist.

Traditional martial arts have an enormous amount to offer the individual seeking to improve him/her self in so many different ways. It’s full of history, energy and character. But you have to bridge that gap that exists between training in the dojo and fighting in the real-world. Otherwise, you will never learn the true art of self-defence.

Stay Safe.

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