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  1. As a teenager, getting attacked by groups was a common phenomenon at my high school. The locals of this particular part of North Philadelphia actually had a ritual where they would jump unsuspecting kids and try to hurt them as badly as possible. They didn't want their money or their belongings, they were only interested in inflicting pain. Enter the skills of a self-defense specialist. One of the things my martial arts instructors had taught me to practice as often as I could was multiple-opponent scenarios because they knew that high school was an unfair place where people would use low-down methods for ganging up on you.

    Movement and speed was key to defeating these small groups of attackers. In my experience, I've found that speed can beat even the most overwhelming of numbers if you try hard enough. Sadly, it doesn't help every time (like say against 10 men instead of 4) but the principle is still sound. With enough movement, I personally have been able to outmaneuver groups of 4 or less, and if I can do it as a skinny teenager, then anyone of average skill and strength should be able to do it too. All we need to do is practice. Move swiftly and hit with simple, quick techniques to vulnerable weak points like an elbow to the occipit or a hard side kick to the floating ribs. This stuff works, and just as importantly people like us don't have to fall victim to cowards who aren't even brave enough to face us one-on-one.

    Hope this entry was an inspiration to some readers. Especially if you've come to a point in your life where you're starting to doubt your own ability. Fight hard, and remember, you can do it! Don't let yourself be defeated here. ;)
  2. During my years of training, I have met a few self-defense practitioners who, like me, have been living with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. (For anyone who doesn't know, schizophrenia is a mental illness that involves visual/auditory hallucinations and paranoid thoughts or feelings.) It can be a real challenge to live with the illness, but martial arts (and really any form of intense, physical activity) can be a real help. Some scientists argue that this is because when endorphins are released by the brain during or following an intense bout of exercise, it increases the euphoric feeling in the body and can also lay down new neural pathways in order to help heal the brain from the neurochemical imbalance that is said to cause schizophrenia in the first place.

    But I think the fact that martial arts also makes you combat-ready can be a contributing factor as well. When you've fought for your personal safety against multiple attackers, you start to realize that hallucinatory voices are not all that scary. Hallucinations can never fight or attack you the way a real flesh-and-blood person can. And if you can defeat a big, scary bad guy, you can surely defeat a couple of voices.

    Just food for thought. Peace.
  3. I've pondered this question for quite some time now. Some experts say the sport is too brutal and not truly a sport but a violent spectacle. Others say it is too commercial to be taken seriously. Dana White of the UFC, however, says that it's really only a matter of time before MMA is accepted into the Olympics because no other combat sport shows the type of drive and tenacity quite like mixed martial arts. I don't know if I agree 100% with either side of the debate, but I do know that I would like to see mixed martial arts in the Olympics because it's just such a dynamic and physically demanding sport like boxing or taekwondo.

    Would be happy to hear what others think of this issue, points of view, etc.

  4. I think that the good thing about modern self-defense (and most of you will probably agree with me) is that we can actually the fit the techniques to conform to our body-types and not the other way around. In the old days of martial arts, it was true that our instructors always told us "a technique has to be done as such or in this manner or that", but modern-day seasoned practitioners know better. We all come in different shapes and sizes and nowadays both men and women are practicing martial arts (unlike in my day when Jujitsu and MMA classes were predominately male). All in all, I just think it's a good idea to find the right techniques for you, whether you be short and stocky, tall and lean, male or female.

    Stay safe, and keep on practicing.