This is absolute gold, Coach.
I set out to make several detailed comments, but the further I read the more obvious it became that I could relate an incident from my experience which validated each of your points.
Anyone remotely serious about self-protection should study this, and modify their training accordingly.
coach sonnon, this is good advice.
Great stuff Coach!
"Who cares if your "deadly art" was originally practiced in a temple in some obscure corner of Bangladesh if an ill-tempered girl scout with 6 months of boxing can knock the hell out of its practitioners?" --Mike Driscoll
"Not all pain is gain." -- The Agony avatar
esse quam videri
Coach Sonnon ,what a prescient article of what has been an academic and professional concern of mine for a number of years. Your twenty points regarding self-defense (or as popularized in today's martial arts industry as reality-based self-defense) should be covered in say a Black Belt Magazine article, such as a Jim Wagner column or something along the line of Tony Blauer or Loren D. Christensen book or video. I could not agree more with the gist of your article. For a number of years, I have studied and dedicated to myself to a martial art from Korea called Ho Kuk Mu Sul (think Hapkido with the Tae Kwon Do striking thrown in), an ancient art with a long history in Korean martial lore. I love my art and practice it diligently, but what I learn in the dojang (or dojo) -and this is self-defense oriented martial art; Ho Kuk Mu Sul can be roughly translated as "martial self-defense skill of Korea" - which amounts to over 165 self-defense techniques by the time you receive your black belt, I'd never use in a sudden, violent street situation, unless of course I'm attacked by a cooperative perpetrator. That is, he leads with a back punch followed by a front kick, I step a foot back, parry the kick....and so on. Every technique we learn in class is sequenced and on rote. The attacker is always in cue with that of the defender and does nothing more or less than what the technique is choreographed. I know better to think that a 'street' confrontation will result in dojo sequencing of events. What I learn on the mat gives me body-mechanics, an enhanced agility you might say, and hopefully an increased confidence
in my abilities to determine the best fight or flight response.
I have a wonderful sensei who likes to mix our classes up by having the 'attacker' mix it up, that is, not to use the rote attack sequence, and dare I say, you must witness the ensuing chaos of the confounded student defender. Everything they've learned is lost or in turmoil. What is seen by the outsider as a beautiful self-defense art form becomes a flailing clumsiness.
For twenty years, I co-directed a summer camp for international students
studying English as a second language at U.C. Berkeley. Another co-director who is a Berkeley police officer and was a self-defense instructor for their crowd-control squads and SWAT team and I decided that a lot of the students were naive in their street awareness knowledge, especially for the urban environment and through the summer camp program we set up a street awareness and self-defense program. 90% of what we taught was avoidance and composure skills, the body language skills you write about. The where not to go knowledge so important for unknowing and unawares visitors to the U.S. We both knew that the actual martial skills needed to survive any confrontation or mugging could not be passed on in a Class101 format. To the young woman students, we might suggest that they carry pepper spray or mace, but more importantly we tried to convey to them the necessary street or neighborhood knowledge that will lessen confrontations.
I, myself, have been mugged in the past (in Boston). Everything I had learned in my study of Tae Kwon Do in those days was not even attempted. I went beserk and crazy and a broken car antenna became my situation control device and I fortunate that the attacker panicked and fled.
This article shall be reread a number of times and meditated upon. I will send it off to a number of martial arts involved friends of mine, including the above mentioned police officer who like Coach Joseph Wilson is a proud owner of a successful martial arts academy. Thank You for this very timely and sober article.
Kevin Lee Dougherty
"How can a man's life keep its course if he
will not let it flow?"
As always, a great article Coach!
For all the readers, Coach Sonnon (and the entire faculty) know that this is a
subject that is very near and dear to me because of my experience and vocation.
My experience in protecting others and myself has proven time and time again
that these principles are true.
Coach Sonnon wrote:
Please re-read this and think about how you value yourself. Remember that you being who you are, where you are affects many people. In other words, you are worth the effort, you are worth the fight.The key to survival does not lie in memorizing a couple quotes from Eastern
philosophy, slapping a few flashy kicks and submission holds together, and
starting a new style. The key to survival involves uncovering your own self
worth and truly believing that you have a valuable contribution to the world,
which deserves protecting.
Coach Sonnon wrote:
Understanding the psychology is integral. Just thinking about it helps. Physiological is another thing. Are you prepared? Are you prepared to fight for your life? How about run for your life? When I talk to many martial artists and LEO’s, they all agree that health and fitness is key to self-protection, yet most of them could not complete a 100-yard sprint. I always ask them what if your attacker can! As coach has always said, and it is one of my mantras, “be more prepared than the challenges that face you!”You must be prepared, both psychologically and physiologically, for the attack. Your awareness must be such that you have the ability to function under the intense strain of personal violence even though it will enable you to defuse or avoid 90 percent of all volatile situations. Your would-be assailant interviews you as a potential “safe” victim for him to attack; and you want your awareness to be sufficiently prepared so that you FAIL this interview!
Coach Sonnon wrote:
All I can say to this one is I agree 100%, and thank you for writing this! Smile.What gives you the ability to survive is training within a doctrine that permits you to identify and assess a threat prior to the fight, one that derails psychological and physiological factors that inhibit your entrance into the fight, one that affords you access to your fighting skill should physical violence break out, and one that provides post-combat knowledge to address legal, medical and social concerns.
Joseph Wilson, PhD
RMAX Faculty Head Coach
a question was once asked "how much can you know about yourself if you've never been in a fight".
tell you what, tribe... experience has shown that the more accurate question is "how can you fight if you don't know about yourself".
if you don't know yourself, you can't possibly know your full value. it is difficult to fight for ANYTHING if you don't really understand it, and that includes yourself. it is difficult to see value in ANYTHING if that thing is not understood.
DO NOT fight in order to know yourself.
KNOW YOURSELF and hope you don't have to fight.
KNOW YOURSELF and decide YOU are worth fighting for if the time comes.
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