Some time ago, someone tried to physically injure me. And not in training mind you, in an actual, public assault kind of way.
A strike was thrown at my head without warning at extremely close range, and my response was to jam the striking arm and shove the individual several feet away from me. The individual in question chose not to pursue further contact with me, and that was the end of the matter.
I was happy with my response. I wasn’t happy that I hadn’t seen the attack coming sooner and avoided it well in advance mind you, but the point is that I was able to cover the mistakes I had made and make up for my disadvantaged position with the speed and accuracy of my response. And it was a response that I had trained and drilled repeatedly in the past.
Throughout the martial arts there are stories of various training methods that tout themselves as suitable for self-defence failing when put to the test. Karate and Tae Kwon Do have particularly bad reputations in this regard, due to the impracticality of their training methods and the machismo inherent in their respective martial cultures. Notably, self-defence luminaries such as Lee Morrison and Geoff Thompson have told tales of Karate failing them when called upon, and martial scholars such as Steve Morris and Marc MacYoung have criticised such training methods themselves, predicting that these methods will not lead to success in combat.
So when one employs a martial technique that one has practiced in a live-fire situation… and it works, well… One is overjoyed. Ecstatic, in fact… because most techniques that are taught in most of the martial arts will NOT work. For anyone.
Finding a technique that works is like finding a gold nugget in an enormous pile of turds.
And the knowledge that you yourself are capable of employing such a technique and successfully defending yourself in a way that most people- including the vast majority of martial artists- are simply not capable of… that is priceless, for the following reason: This knowledge- rooted in actual experience- gives you an unparalleled level of confidence. And this is real confidence, not machismo or bravado, and definitely not the overcompensating aggression that many people confuse with confidence. This is the confidence that comes from knowing that you can protect yourself because you have incontrivertably proved it to yourself.
True martial training has had a big effect on me. Since I started training in a way I would call “reality-based”, and especially since the above incident, I have:
– Had fewer minor arguments with people
– Been friendlier to strangers
– Felt far more comfortable dealing with potentially dangerous individuals
– Enjoyed my training even more
– Been generally happier in myself, and in dealings with people
I’ve had fewer arguments with people because I haven’t felt the need to bolster or defend my ego. I have nothing left to prove to anyone, nor to myself. So I’m even nicer to people, even people I disagree with.
I’ve been friendlier to strangers, because I know that I can deal with any threat they might present, and for the same reason, I’ve felt more comfortable dealing with large, belligerent and/or intoxicated individuals.
And I’ve enjoyed my training more than before because I’ve got proof that I’m on the right track, so to speak.
I’m not sure why I’ve felt generally happier, other than perhaps the fact that I’m even more comfortable with myself.
I never realised it fully before the incident described above, but for me this has to be the ultimate goal of the martial arts: Once your physical skill reaches a certain level, you gain the power to be nice to everyone. You’re free to be nice to everyone because any conscious or subconscious fear of people you had is vastly reduced. And from then on you are free to practice the highest form of martial skill: to be likeable and to make others calmer and more tranquil through your presence.
You want a real no-touch knockout? Try being the type of person that people don’t want to fight.
This type of skill can make you- and others- happy.