View Full Version : Self-Defence - Are we kidding ourselves?

Tripitaka of AA
15th October 2002, 06:44
I used to go to work covered in bruises, limping and with fingers taped together (particularly after a good Gasshuku, Summer Camp :D ). People would aske me "are you alright?", and in response I would say "Yes, I had a great time". Then when I explained that I was learning a Martial Art for Self-Defence, people would say "have you ever been attacked?" and I would say "No". They'd nod and wink and smirk at the irony.

If I was attacked in the street. Or in a bar. Or at a crowded Bus Stop outside an all-night Kebab shop after the disco has kicked out all the revellers... would I remember any of my techniques? Would I actually stand any chance of defending myself against bottle, knife, spray-can or steel-toe-capped boot now than I would have done if I'd never learned any Shorinji Kempo.

If there is an increased chance of coming out on top in a confrontation that gets physical, will it have been worth all the beatings that I've taken in the Dojo? I'd answer Yes, immediately, but let's just think about it a bit more.

tony leith
15th October 2002, 10:45
I've posted on similar themes before, so I hope this doesn't bore regular participants. OK, so I suppose those for of us who haven't been in 'real life' situations, whether our Kempo is a practical means of self defence or not awaits the ultimate test. What can we do about this? It would be patently stupid to go out into the streets looking for some kind of confrontation. The alternative - and I know people that have gone this route - is to try a full contact fighting system and go into the ring. What I think this tests is primarily your ability to take and mete out physical punishment, not SK technique. Kempo is NOT a ring fighting system - as I've heard Aosaka Sensei say, our objective in a fight is to survive and escape, not to demonstrate our superiority.

Kempo is like any other system - it has its strengths and weaknesses. For example, we don't do ground work, and unhappily it's not unlikely that a 'real' fight would end up on the floor. What it does have is the combination of goho and juho, and a wide variety of techniques. The emphasis on pair form training should mean - if practice is done with spirit and intent - that kenshi are fairly adept at avoiding being hit. The emphasis we put on juho waza is also highly important. Not many self defence situations are likely to start with somebody obligingly putting their dukes up to signify 'square gos', and especially not for women. We also have to remember that not all situations where somebody feels threatened necessaily dictate an all out response, and again here kempo scores highly with nuki and gote waza to provide graduated responses to different sorts of threat. I tend to think of techniques in terms of potential scenarios and mental rehearsal for self defence, and I encourage students top do likewise.

I've posted before about hokei principles and the fact that our techniques are the distillation of generations of combat training. We are entitled to have confidence in them. The ability to apply them is always going to be down to the individual, and training can only prepare you to a certain extent. What it hopefully gives you are conditioned reflexes which means that you've already evaded the first strike/escasped the first grab before it occurs to you to panic.. then you run like the clappers.

In the end training has to put limits on realism, or else we'd end up sustaining more cumulative damage than would be justifable against the fairly remote likelihood of being in a life or death situation on the street. There are also limits to what you can do if somebody just atacks you with a weapon without warning or provocation, which seems to be a favourite sport of some of Glasgow's less socially responsible young citizens. Fortunately this kind of thing is still statistically very rare, so don't have nightmares... (British injoke, don't worry about it if you haven't seen Crimewatch UK)

Are we kidding ourwselves? Not about the intrinsic value of th training. Apologies for the length of the post.

Tony Leith

15th October 2002, 10:46

In my opinion those who have studied any MA can more easily avoid any conflicts because they have better "eye" to see those things coming. Maby one could also call that intuition. As I remember there was one thread concerning that point...

If, how ever, you can't get away from upcoming conflict then I'd say that beeing kenshi helps you a lot... But don't be too overconfidend. Everey horse has its rider too, or how does that saying go :D

During my 12 years of training SK I have learned a lot but the best value is that now I know my limitations. I know that I'm able to defend my self at certain point but I also can see or predict (intuition) if the situation is so heavy that Im better off.

Sometimes our training is too "theorethical" or too dojoish (meaning that we tend to forget that in streets hardly no one attacks us like we do it in trainings). Im no sensei but sometimes when I teach other kenshis at our branch I focus on those points. We practice with more contact, not stopping every attackbefore actuall impact. Training this way we don't panic so easily when some one attacks us seriously. It also shows you how hard it actually is to hit someone accuratelly. Normally when we do zuki or geri we leave them short or do only very light contact. If we always practice this way so how do we know that in real situation we will deliver them "the hard way"?

Sorry my english... hope u got something out of it :p

tony leith
15th October 2002, 10:57
Hi Mikko

One partial solution to the problem of always holding back on atemi waza is to use equipment. Dos are useful for chudan level waza, and it's possible to combine them with Thai boxing pads, focus mitts etc to ensure stduents are conditioned to deliver chodan strikes to the correct depth as well. Dos are particularly useful because they encourage attackers to put in strikes properly as well, which benefits defenders. I personally think iif possible that all SK training sessions should incorporate some element of impact/contact work. There is no substitute for hitting things in learning how to hit things..

Tony Leith

15th October 2002, 11:02
Hi Tony

We do use dos and mitts but training with those you don't get the feeling what it is when someone really hits you. I mean that sudden impact where you loose those two or so vital seconds to react. Ofcourse we don't beat each other till we'r blue n yellow but using some contact we learn how it can feel.

David Dunn
15th October 2002, 11:51
Originally posted by tony leith
Kempo is like any other system - it has its strengths and weaknesses. For example, we don't do ground work, and unhappily it's not unlikely that a 'real' fight would end up on the floor.
I refer you to the video of Mori Sensei, which Anders posted a link to :D

tony leith
15th October 2002, 12:16
Yes, I'm sure the video of Mori Sensei would be very enlightening - unfortunatly this clapped out piece of industrial archeaology I'm typing on is hard pushed to handle text, never mind video...

All I meant is that ground work isn't a regular feature of our practice from the outset, in the way that goho or juho waza are. I'm also not advocating only training in do or using Thai pads, just that it should be a regular element of training. I agree that there is a value in knowing what it feels like to take a hit.

One thing we experimented with in Glasgow years back was what the instructor responsible called 'continuous contact goho randori', where we were wearing protection, mitts and headguards included, but instead of stopping to rei any hit kept going until one or other partner couldn't defend themselves. This required a high level of trust between partners, but it was valuable in terms of finding out that even when dazed and confused you can keep moving and defending yourself. While you don't want to keep taking impacts to the head, I don't see any other way of finding out just how shocking that can be apart from have it happen to you. Again, I am not suggesting lining students up and hitting them in the head, just saying that an element of semi to full contact training can be very useful for those kenshi inclined to try it..

Tony leith