I’d rather get killed fighting a vicious attacker defending my family or my life than to die like a coward. As I study different kinds of self-defense techniques, a thought crossed my mind. Many of these self-defense techniques are actually good and effective if the person is skillful and bold enough to perform them under life and death situations. I believe that where we fail as Martial Arts instructors is that we do not seriously take into consideration the way our Sympathetic Nervous System reacts in times of extreme pressure. It is one thing is to practice a technique in the Dojo among people that do not want to hurt you and another to have someone that actually wants to take something valuable from you, hurt or even kill you. When facing these life and death situations our heart rate goes from a normal 80 to over 175 beats a minute. At that moment we must make a drastic choice: to stay and fight or to run as fast as possible.
Some years ago, I used to live within minutes of Downtown, Jacksonville. It was very normal for me to take a jog around downtown and go to the Gym there. I remember that it was getting dark and that particular night I just wanted to walk to the Gym. I saw these two guys pass by me in two bicycles; they actually asked me if I was straight. I thought they were questioning my sexuality. Later, I found out that they wanted to know if I had some drugs on me. I guess, as fast as I was walking, they thought I was on my way to buy some drugs, so they assumed I had some money on me. I did not feel good in my spirit about these guys, but they kept on going in their bicycles and I kept walking fast on my way to the Gym.
I had the choice to stay on the street that I was on and add a few more minutes to my walk to the Gym or cut into the local park. That park was very dark; nevertheless, even with the red flags, I took the turn on that park. I was only about one hundred feet into the park when I felt those two bicycles behind me. They both got out of the bicycles; one pointed a gun directly at me from about 20 feet: “N**a, give me yo money,” he demanded. My whole life flashed before me in seconds. I was in a solitary place; it was dark and as one came to see if I had anything of value on, the other firmly pointed that gun at me. There was absolutely nothing I could do to defend myself. My best defense was to listen to that voice that told me to stay on the street and don’t take that turn. That night I had nothing on me but my keys! All I could do was to remain calm and to pray for God’s protection. These guys allowed me to go with no trouble and no injury; however, even as a Black Belt and a Martial Artist of many years, I could remember the stress that I was feeling. It actually took months for me to recover from that incident. How much more therapy would I have needed if a Physical confrontation would have taken place? I was in a dark place, my visual was very limited, I was nervous even as I projected being calm. There was a weapon that could rapidly end my life and on top of it all, there were two guys. However, the greatest wakeup call for me was that even with all my years of training, being a second degree Black Belt at the time and even a Martial Arts Instructor, I really did not have a clue about how to properly defend myself if these guys would have came closer. I knew how to fight; but self-defense is not about fighting but about protecting your life, family and even the innocent under extreme and unpredictable circumstances.
In times of extreme pressure we do not think as clear as we do under normal circumstances. People that are extremely terrified are as thoughtless as people that are extremely angry. It is almost like our brain becomes very limited in placing complex thoughts together. That is the reason why a good self-defense technique in theory can become a disaster in practice because this reality was not taken into consideration. All that grabbing, twisting arms and acrobatics go out the door when we realize that we are one second away from dying. We need to have knowledge and skills in practical, effective and brutal self-defense.
The good news is that God created us in such a way that our bodies already have a defense mechanism, if you will. When we are scared, and probably many can relate, we can jump higher, we can run faster and we can hit harder. Based on this fact we can build a simpler, but at the same time, more effective Self-Defense Program. Just as we prepare for natural disasters, the statistics are making a strong case for us that practical self-defense is a must. I am not stating to go after a Black Belt or even to get involved in regular martial arts programs, even as martial arts offer many benefits. I am talking about the need for good, practical and brutal Self-Defense’s classes. The good news about these kinds of Self-Defense Techniques is that it does not take you years to learn. If you already have a fighting background, you will be ready for any possible attack within a few months.
It is my goal in my program that all of my students be able to know how to defend themselves against any possible attack. Not for my students to learn a million techniques, but for them to learn a few effective ones that will also give them the freedom to change things up. I do not want to teach a robotic self-defense class, because real street fights are unpredictable. You do need to know natural reactions of the Body, I will give a structure, but from there you have the freedom to build according to the way you feel more comfortable.