All MA systems equally good for self defense?

Joab

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That is, are all martial arts systems equally good for self defense or are some better than others when it comes to realistic self defense? Are low kicks more practical than high kicks in a self defense emergency (This is obviously "yes" when you don't have a lot of space) are open hand palm blows superior to fisted blows to the face and neck? Is it always a good idea to use an improvised weapon over unarmed combat when defending yourself against an attacker on the streets (Again, I would say obviously yes, but if you disagree go ahead and express your views) Are stances that are obvious martial arts stances inferior when it comes to the element of surprise than a relaxed ready stance that prepares you to defend yourself but doesn't look like a martial arts stance?

While I do believe there is value to every martial arts system, I do believe some are better than others when it comes to realistic self defense. All opinions appreciated.
 

exile

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J., this is an old, old topic on MT; if you use the search function to look through the archives, you'll find half a dozen or more threads on this.

In a nutshell, the answer we always seems to come back to is: all TMAs began as practical combat systems; some of them have developed sport styles that are not particularly suited to SD, because that's not their purpose; the 'pre-sport' variety are all full of very effective techniques; but you have to train for CQ violence under much more realistic training conditions than you normally encounter in MA schools, where even the SD coverage usually involves complete partner compliance and isn't even close to realistic. A number of prominent bouncers/club doorment/security experts, such as Geoff Thompson in the UK (and many of the other British Combat Association types), or Lawrence Kane in the US, are high-ranked karateka and instructiors, but their training emphasis on reality-based attack scenarios, and application of the strategy and techs of their art to realistic violence, is a lot more raw and harsh than most people who do MAs would find palatable. The upshot is: it doesn't matter what the art is: Karate, TKD, Northern Long Fist, Escrima, or Krav Maga—train for street violence and you'll be able to handle street violence; train for the dojo floor and that's all you'll be able to deal with. And it's not really possible, I don't think, to go much further than that....
 

First Action

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I agree with Exile, but I think I'll go into more detail on your specific questions and then round it off with my humble opinion.

There are definately some forms that are better than others, and in reality, the best way to train in Self Defence is to do exactly that, and not in a Traditional Martial Arts, which, as Exile pointed out, have (most of them) been made for combat in their day, but probally not so useful these days.

Low kicks are always better - you never want to comprimise your balance in a street fight. If you are going to kick (which does have its advantages eg surprise, added 'tools' etc) always aim below waist height. The knee is an excellent target.

Both open and closed hands have their pros and cons. The main pro for an open hand is that you are less likely to do damage to yourself, which can happen quite easily with a fist (eg broken knuckles or jarred wrist if your forearm is not aligned). Whether or not one or the ther is better for face or neck depends on what you are trying to achieve.


I agree with the improvised weapons - if you have it use it - but keep in mind your use of force.

For your last point about stances, I have to take the view from the late great Bruce Lee, whom did not believe in stances or 'fixed positions'. Constantly moving is the key to surprise and speed ie momentumn. I teach my classes a ready stance - which is common in many Self Defence publications and widely used by special forces type advice/training. You can read about it at http://www.firstaction.com.au/selfdefencetips/handling_a_confronting_situation.htm

It is mentioned under th 'REACT' theory. This is actually an article about how to react to any confronting situation, before it gets physical.

Jeevan Lim-Nunez
www.firstaction.com.au
www.freeselfdefencetips.com
 

Bill Mattocks

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I am not PC enough to think that all martial arts are equally effective for self defense. I won't pretend I don't think some are downright useless, and some frankly silly, dangerous (to the practitioner), or depend far too much on a particular set of circumstances that probably will not occur in a 'real' self-defense situation.

I am also sure that there are some systems that are more and some which are less useful in any given set of circumstances. Some are probably better suited to a particular body type, or depend heavily upon the reflexes or flexibility of the person to have maximum effectiveness.

but as Omar says, I also think much depends on the person. Given my age and lack of flexibility, I doubt very seriously if BJJ is in my future as a training system, and if I were to attempt it, I suspect I'd do very badly with it. I may be wrong, but that's how it appears to me at the moment. That does not make BJJ a bad choice for self-defense (in fact, I'm pretty sure it's a good one), but it would probably be a poor choice for me.

I believe that people who train to defend themselves, by whatever method, are better prepared for that eventuality than people who do not.

Long story short; the best self-defense method is the one you feel most comfortable with, which you care enough about to become proficient in, and which you use without hesitation if required to do so. Yours won't be the same as mine, and that's totally cool.

Just like the eternal question "What's the best gun to use for self-defense?" The answer is simple - the one you actually got with ya, bubba. And if you're trained to use it and know when to use it and when not to, bonus points for you. That's the best gun in the world - for you - at that moment in time.
 

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I always think of it in terms of football. The goal is to win the big game, but there are different systems and different coaches. Your Landry, your Cower, Edwards, Meyer, etc. A talented player might flourish or flounder under under one system or another, a novice may do the same. It's the coaching and system that works best for you. At the end of the day it's still football though.
 

Tez3

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I always think of it in terms of football. The goal is to win the big game, but there are different systems and different coaches. Your Landry, your Cower, Edwards, Meyer, etc. A talented player might flourish or flounder under under one system or another, a novice may do the same. It's the coaching and system that works best for you. At the end of the day it's still football though.[/quote]

No, it's American football not the Beautiful Game! or Aussie rules, or rugby football. See there's an argument right there lol, which football game is the best!
 

sgtmac_46

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A style's just a system, it's the person's application that counts.

That's true on some level.......however, at some point the idea gets stretched a bit thin.

A good example is which is better for aerial combat........an F-22 Raptor or a Sopwith Camel.......one can argue that the pilot is the deciding factor, but at some point the technology itself creates such a gap that the individuals are irrelevant, unless the F22 'pilot' is so inept as to not even be able to get the plane off the ground......assuming that the two pilots are remotely capable, the Sopwith Camel pilot being a genius at aerial combat, and the F-22 pilot being a slightly skilled novice, the F-22 wins........regardless of the clever application of the Sopwith Camel pilot.

The same thing applies to martial arts and physical combat. Practicing Tae Bo at the local aerobics class isn't the same as hardcore MMA training or training in Pekiti Tirsia when it comes to the ability to engage in physical violence, which is ultimately what we are talking about.
 

sgtmac_46

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I always think of it in terms of football. The goal is to win the big game, but there are different systems and different coaches. Your Landry, your Cower, Edwards, Meyer, etc. A talented player might flourish or flounder under under one system or another, a novice may do the same. It's the coaching and system that works best for you. At the end of the day it's still football though.

But there are bad teams with bad strategies........pretty much proving that not all strategies are created equal.
 

celtic_crippler

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While all martial arts share similar aspects, the focus can vary greatly.

To some degree, all martial arts include aspects of sport, self defense, and expression (for lack of a better word) but the importance and philosophy behind the focus is different depending on the style.

It is true that the "individual" is an important variable, but in essence what they train in will impact their ability to defend themselves.

If one trains in a martial art where the primary focus is on expression (and that could be any of the performance based arts or those that may be considered "internal" arts...) they simply won't have the same training as someone who trains in a martial art where the primary focus is on self defense... the curriculums are different. That doesn't mean they won't be exposed to that aspect, just not as much.

For exampe: some systems focus more on forms/kata while others focus more on dealing with specific attacks. It only stands to reason that if Student A has been working a specific defense against a right punch all month while Student B has been working on their crane stance to make sure thier form looks good instead, that Student A will likely fair better if at the end of that month somebody takes a swing at them.

What and how you train will be reflected in how you react to an attack. Of course, other individual attributes will also be a determining factor (like life experience, strength, agility, etc...) but a very important variable is also the martial art one studies.

So, in answer to the queston: No, all MA sytems are not equally good for self defense. Neither are all MA systems eqully good in the area of sport, nor are they all equal when it comes to beautiful movement/finding inner peace...etc.

That is not a slam to any particular system(s), it's just important to recognize so that you can make sure you're training in the right MA for you and your goals.
 

Omar B

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But there are bad teams with bad strategies........pretty much proving that not all strategies are created equal.

I can see where youre comming from. But I don't believe in bad teams/styles, each has their salad days and their not so great days. Even the Browns or the 70's Dolphins. Just like in the mid centruy Judo and Boxing were most prevalent, but that slowly shifted to Karate and Kung Fu, then the Ninja boom, then now MMA. Non of these systems themselves changed or sucked, it's just that one is more prominent for a time.

It's the game around the style that changes.
 

Omar B

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I always think of it in terms of football. The goal is to win the big game, but there are different systems and different coaches. Your Landry, your Cower, Edwards, Meyer, etc. A talented player might flourish or flounder under under one system or another, a novice may do the same. It's the coaching and system that works best for you. At the end of the day it's still football though.[/quote]

No, it's American football not the Beautiful Game! or Aussie rules, or rugby football. See there's an argument right there lol, which football game is the best!

I was talking strategy and application from an AMERICAN FOOTBALL standpoint ... hence my using those coaches names. Nothing wrong with the other styles either, I grew up playing soccer, my uncle even played for Jamaica's national team in the 70's and he was my coach. But for this discussion I was using NFL as the example of style and application.
 

celtic_crippler

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I can see where youre comming from. But I don't believe in bad teams/styles, each has their salad days and their not so great days. Even the Browns or the 70's Dolphins. Just like in the mid centruy Judo and Boxing were most prevalent, but that slowly shifted to Karate and Kung Fu, then the Ninja boom, then now MMA. Non of these systems themselves changed or sucked, it's just that one is more prominent for a time.

It's the game around the style that changes.

Then how do you explain the Detroit Lions? :moon: lol
 

Thesemindz

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How is western boxing as a self defense.

You'll learn how to move, and take a punch, and get in great shape.

You probably won't learn much if anything about self-defense application or situations, such as knife fights, criminal assaults, and fighting outside the set parameters of a boxing match.

If it's all you're training, it's better than nothing. But it's better at being a competitive combat sport than it is at being a self defense art. Just as most self defense oriented arts might help in some way during a boxing match, even though they aren't intended for one.

It's a square peg round whole problem. Boxing is great. I highly recommend it. So are TKD, and BJJ, and Karate, and Kungfu, and Iaido. But they all have places and times in which they are intended to be used. And that is where they perform at their best.


-Rob
 

chinto

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I agree with Exile, but I think I'll go into more detail on your specific questions and then round it off with my humble opinion.

There are definately some forms that are better than others, and in reality, the best way to train in Self Defence is to do exactly that, and not in a Traditional Martial Arts, which, as Exile pointed out, have (most of them) been made for combat in their day, but probally not so useful these days.

Low kicks are always better - you never want to comprimise your balance in a street fight. If you are going to kick (which does have its advantages eg surprise, added 'tools' etc) always aim below waist height. The knee is an excellent target.

Both open and closed hands have their pros and cons. The main pro for an open hand is that you are less likely to do damage to yourself, which can happen quite easily with a fist (eg broken knuckles or jarred wrist if your forearm is not aligned). Whether or not one or the ther is better for face or neck depends on what you are trying to achieve.


I agree with the improvised weapons - if you have it use it - but keep in mind your use of force.

For your last point about stances, I have to take the view from the late great Bruce Lee, whom did not believe in stances or 'fixed positions'. Constantly moving is the key to surprise and speed ie momentumn. I teach my classes a ready stance - which is common in many Self Defence publications and widely used by special forces type advice/training. You can read about it at http://www.firstaction.com.au/selfdefencetips/handling_a_confronting_situation.htm

It is mentioned under th 'REACT' theory. This is actually an article about how to react to any confronting situation, before it gets physical.

Jeevan Lim-Nunez
www.firstaction.com.au
www.freeselfdefencetips.com

OK any Good instructor in any of the traditional Okinawan systems of Karate teach as the Karate systems teach to kick low, and practical self defense and combat techniques.
I find myself wondering how some people think that a fight has changed in the last 90,000 years? We still have the same anatomy, same number of arms and legs and natural weapons.
So why would any system that is taught with SD and street application in mind be less valid today then say 300 years ago? Now are there dojo's and instructors who do not understand non sport applications and how the system should be taught for that? I am sure there are, in most any system out there.
The KEY IS TO: ask the instructor if he/she knows how to teach the system as originally intended with self defense and not sport in mind? Is this instructor willing to teach you that way as you are not at this time interested in sport applications or competition, but survival in a self defense situation? If the answers are yes, then I would say try it for a bit and see.

There are a lot of systems out there, most were developed for survival in real threat situations! there was a huge amount of effort and time in developing them. Every one of the ones that are 100 years or more old have been tested many many times in situations where the looser was provably dead or dieing. Newer is NOT necessarily better in this case.
Unarmed combat has not changed, any one who says its some how different now then in say 1700 has an agenda, is trying to sell you something, and or is just plain ignorant of the reality of violence.
 

Cyriacus

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That is, are all martial arts systems equally good for self defense or are some better than others when it comes to realistic self defense?

The Systems? Yes. The Teachers? Not always.

Are low kicks more practical than high kicks in a self defense emergency (This is obviously "yes" when you don't have a lot of space)

The answer is, "It Depends". You can do Close Distance High Kicks. All it requires is a bit of leaning, and Youre good to go. It depends on the System.

are open hand palm blows superior to fisted blows to the face and neck?

It depends on the System and Person. Palm Heels arent any safer - Its mostly that the Wrist aligns more easily for it. I would argue though, that it makes Your Fingers and Hand more susceptible to being forced backwards, and it limits Your angle of attack. I would also argue that it takes alot more Training to generate a decent amount of Power with a Palm Heel Strike as compared to a Punch. Furthermore, Punches come more naturally.

Is it always a good idea to use an improvised weapon over unarmed combat when defending yourself against an attacker on the streets (Again, I would say obviously yes, but if you disagree go ahead and express your views)

It Depends. So, some guy bumps into You and begins threatening You, so You pick up a piece of Glass and stab Him a dozen times? Secondly, if You are attacked, Youre unlikely to square off and debate it first. The guy will probably just hit You, and You very well may not even see it. Relying on Improvised Weapons is a foolish thing to do. It assumes Youre just gonna mystically evade the guy and find one, then get it, then its just gonna work. Meanwhile this Gents constantly trying to Hit You. He isnt just going to stand there. And if for some silly reason You do have time to get one, well, You also had time to leave. And the room to move around, to do it.

Are stances that are obvious martial arts stances inferior when it comes to the element of surprise than a relaxed ready stance that prepares you to defend yourself but doesn't look like a martial arts stance?

You oughtnt be reliant on being in a Stance in order to apply Your System. Stances help, but oughtnt be depended on. Much like Footwork. Its hard to employ Footwork if Youve been struck once or twice, and Your Brains only signals will be Fight or Flight or Freeze.

While I do believe there is value to every martial arts system, I do believe some are better than others when it comes to realistic self defense. All opinions appreciated.

I disagree. I believe all Martial Arts are effective. Whether or not Theyre being Taught effectively is a whole other matter.
Just My Contribution.
 

karatekid13

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My teacher is really into practical self defense. (Thus why we don't do punches/kicks from a low stance, etc.) However, i think some "everyday weapons" are good... think hitting someone with a heavy purse, stepping on their foot in high heels, smashing their face with a metal water bottle (my mom's favorite!), etc.
 
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