Friday, October 8, 2010

Things to include in training for self defense

The majority of martial arts schools only ever teach the tools of the martial arts and rarely touch on any of the other aspects of violence or conflict.  What I mean is that the tools are the actual punches, kicks, throws, etc...  These techniques are taught in some form or another by all the martial arts or fighting arts in the world.  Obviously there are some variations in execution of those tools but a punch is a punch.

One big problem is that very few of the schools I have studied with ever really talked about the strategies or tactics associated with fighting.  Furthermore, even fewer have ever really discussed the application of violence and where that meets the law.  Also, what about de-escalation, understanding criminal bahavior, and responsibility to escape.

Rory Miller was kind enough to put this in perspective for several of us in a seminar.  The martial arts are a practice of manufacturing cripples and corpses.  We may have fun or train at a low level so no one gets terribly hurt but if we ever apply what we know to someone in a real setting as a means to defend ourselves then we are going to hurt someone badly.  That is the point of our training isn't it?

Consider that lethal force is obviously anything that can take a life.  However, just as bad in the eyes of the law is the concept of serious injury.  In Oklahoma as in other parts of the US I am sure, serious injury is described as anything that causes: a serious gash or deep cut, major broken bone(s) such as a femur not just fingers, and/or damage to internal organs such as the liver or lungs.  These are at the top of what the law enforcement community call the Continuum of Force.  They are considered very serious.

Well, I can tell you right now, that as a standard of practice I teach my classes Aikijutsu.  For years I new that knowing the law in regard to this kind of thing was important but never considered actually going to the effort of looking it up.  So for years I was setting my students up for failure.  Not in defense but in terms of the aftermath.  Yes, Bobby was able to fend off his attacker but the guy has broken bones the likes of which he will never really recover from in his lifetime.  Well, this can go well if Bobby was worried about being attacked with lethal force or at least reason to believe he might suffer serious injury.  However, if the attacker was just trying to take his newspaper from the front lawn and they got into some sort of heated exchange that led to a fight.  Well, now Bobby is looking at jail time.

As a martial arts instructor we need to be aware of the "loaded gun" we are handing our students.  Just as we would hand someone a loaded gun we make sure they are aware of the safety concerns related to that weapon.  Thus we should be equally as responsible with what we teach.

Marc MacYoung posted a complaint about this very thing recently.  He makes a very good point.  Thanks Marc and Rory.  I am learning and I have started doing what you suggest.  Even so far as taking classes on law enforcement so that I can better understand the law and where I stand as a civilian.

Keep the lessons coming guys.  We need them.