Friday, December 7, 2007

"The Best Self Defense System"

It is as common for people new to the martial arts to ask which one is best as it is for seasoned martial artists to argue the same question. I originally became interested in the martial arts as a means of self defense. As a youngster who craved the power to stop beatings by bigger, older boys, I collected martial arts and self defense ads from magazines.

I daydreamed over promises to turn my "body into a killing machine in 24 hours." Many years later, when I enrolled in a traditional karate school, reality intruded itself upon fantasy. A lot of what you find in the martial arts realm can be adapted and applied to self defense, but the real purpose of the Eastern arts is to serve as a vehicle for teaching the principles and discipline of Buddhism.

Some Westerners and a few -- like Bruce Lee -- from the East have tried to separate out the fighting principles from their traditional context, with varying degrees of success. I just find most of them lacking in one way or another. Don't get me wrong, here, because I wouldn't want to go mano a mano with many of those practitioners. It's just that their systems don't meet my criteria for "the best".

Here are my criteria for The Best Self Defense System:
  • You can assimilate it into a Christian Worldview, and I'm not talking about just inserting a few Bible verses into the training sessions, or sewing a (yech!) "Smile, Jesus Loves You" patch on the uniforms -- I'm talking about a fundamental interpretation of everything that's done in terms of Scripture, including theonomic ethics & a Book-of-Psalms mindset;
  • You work with, rather than against, normal human reflexes and instincts;
  • You learn levels of force from mild control to lethal;
  • You depend on gross motor skills that can be performed under adrenaline stress conditions;
  • You learn to control adrenaline & operate under conditions of stress;
  • Women or elderly can use it effectively against larger, stronger attackers;
  • You can learn to use it, even if you're not athletic;
  • You train realistically, including the kind of clothing/footwear you would likely be wearing during an attack (not canvas pajamas & bare feet);
  • You use the same skill set for empty hand and for edged & impact weapons;
  • You train for the chaotic realities of combat and not the "if he does that, you do this" teaching you find in most martial arts;
  • You can acquire a practical level of competence in weeks or months, rather than years;
  • You need only occasional practice to retain skill level (although the true Christian Martialist will practice often to hone his craft);
  • Oh, yes, -- and it must REALLY WORK.
There . . . that's not asking too much, is it? Perhaps I should take a little inventory of what I have found so far, in my quest for The Best Self Defense System. Maybe I'll do that in the next post, DV.

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