If you want to learn to defend yourself, you join a karate school, right? After all, anyone who has a high ranking black belt and a slew of shiny trophies proudly displayed in their window should be able to teach you how to survive one of the worst situations that could ever happen to a human being… Right?
I think you and I are both old enough and experienced enough in the world right now to know that appearances are often very deceiving. What seems to be one thing is often something very different. And, learning self-defense from a karate-expert, at least a modern-day one, is no exception.
How can I say this? What do I have against karate students, teachers, and black belts?
I’ll start by saying that I have absolutely nothing against dedicated students and teachers of the martial arts – regardless of rank or style. In fact, I commend and respect them for their dedication, motivation, and discipline toward attaining both skill and rank in their chosen form.
Why do I question their ability to defend themselves, even in light of their having attained black belt or been awarded trophies in one or more tournaments or competitions? One word…
Crime reports and statistics are rife with accounts of people trained in the martial arts, many holding black belt rank, falling prey to the brutal attacks of common street thugs – fighters with no formal training in the martial or any other combat arts.
How can this be? After all, aren’t these people learning how to deal with a violent attacker? Isn’t that what you learn in a karate class?
To be honest with you, it’s very difficult to go into all the reasons that this logic falls through. If you want to really understand how and why this type of situation happens, and more often than you might think, you really need to read the book, “The Karate-Myth: Why Most Martial Arts and Self-Defense Programs Are Wrong.” This one powerful book, and it’s supporting materials, should be the first thing that anyone serious about learning to protect themselves reads before taking a single step towards enrolling in a class.
For now, let’s just explore the possibility that maybe, just maybe, there’s more to being able to defend yourself than merely learning a few cool moves. Maybe, just maybe, belt color or the size or number of trophies, tell us little to nothing about how someone will fair in a real world self-defense situation against an enraged or demonic attacker bent on getting more from you than a plaque or trophy. Maybe.
Let me just finish by saying that, just as there are dozens of reasons why someone may take up karate or martial arts training, there are dozens of benefits that one can derive from them as well. But, and this is a big “but,” if your goal is to learn how to effectively, efficiently, and confidently defend yourself against a real life bad guy, it will take more than a piece of cloth that represents how much time you’ve been practicing a set of punches, kicks, and blocks. It will take more than a big shiny trophy or two, unless of course you plan on using the trophies as weapons (I would…).
In fact, it will take many of the same things that the street fighter brings to the situation – things that I find to be seriously lacking in most of the conventional karate programs I’ve witnessed being taught across North America. If you’re going to win against an assailant who has nothing to lose and everything to gain, you’re going to have to make sure that you arm yourself with the same tools he’s carrying in his arsenal. And, I’m talking about guns, knives, or any other weapon of the sort. I’m talking about…
- A commitment to winning – no matter what
- Survival Instinct
- Superior Attitude
- A Complete Disregard for “doing it right,”
- No Delusional Belief about so-called “fair-play”
Until karate students can separate the traits developed for sportsmanship and being a positive member of society from those needed to survive in a dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation, I’m afraid the outcome will always be the same. And that is…
…he that is fighting to win – to survive – will always win over those who are simply going through the motions.