Does your school teach self defense or fighting?

Thesemindz

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As martial artists, we all train for our own unique reasons. Some of us train for trophies, some for social acceptance, some for tradition and ritual, and some for self defense. Those are all valid reasons, and I'm not trying to put forth that any one is more appropriate than any other.

I train for self defense. That has always been my perspective on martial arts. It's why I started training in the first place. I spend a lot of time reading about and discussing self defense. It's what I'm in to.

Because that's my personal interest in martial arts, I get irritated when someone tries to dress up what they are doing as self defense for marketing purposes. I don't mind if a martial arts school is teaching positive self image and affirmations, that's fine, but when they pretend they're teaching self defense, it bothers me. I don't mind when a school teaches acrobatics, but when they pretend it's self defense, it bothers me.

And I don't mind when a school teaches fighting, but when they pretend it's self defense, it bothers me. Just like I would expect them to be bothered if I taught self defense and pretended it was for competition, or positive self affirmation, or acrobatics.

So I got to thinking tonight. I think self defense instruction needs to incoporate more than just combatives. Punching and kicking and grappling are all an important part of self defense, but they aren't all there is.

I think a real self defense program should include de-escalation techniques. It should include teaching people how to walk away from a fight, and teaching them when they can avoid one. It should include information about the legal ramifications of self defense. What local laws apply to violent self defense? It should include real world information about predators and predatory behavior. It should include information about the bio-physical reactions the body will have to violent stimulus. The student should understand that [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]in a stressful situation, the hypothalamus releases aldosterone, epinephrine and norepinephrine, thyroxine, and cortisol. Sugar is released into the blood, as well as endorphins. The student should be taught something of how and why these chemical reactions occur and what the effects of them will be. It should include crime statistics, as well as information on identifying and protecting one's self from dangerous situations. It should include education in risk assessment and avoidance. [/FONT]It should also include plenty of punching and kicking and grappling too.

Now, I know that a lot of you guys are teaching all this and more, but I wonder sometimes how many schools are teaching all the punching and kicking and grappling, and none of the other stuff.

Again, that's fine, but to me, that's not self defense. That's fighting. Fighting can be fun, and fighting can be effective, but fighting isn't self defense. And it bothers me when people say it is.

So my question is, is your school teaching self defense? Or is it teaching fighting. Again, I'm not saying one is better or more important than the other. One is my interest and approach to martial arts, one isn't, but I don't demand that everyone agree with my perspective. I'm just curious.

What else do you guys think are important aspects of a self defense curriculum?


-Rob
 

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As martial artists, we all train for our own unique reasons. Some of us train for trophies, some for social acceptance, some for tradition and ritual, and some for self defense. Those are all valid reasons, and I'm not trying to put forth that any one is more appropriate than any other.

I train for self defense. That has always been my perspective on martial arts. It's why I started training in the first place. I spend a lot of time reading about and discussing self defense. It's what I'm in to.

Because that's my personal interest in martial arts, I get irritated when someone tries to dress up what they are doing as self defense for marketing purposes. I don't mind if a martial arts school is teaching positive self image and affirmations, that's fine, but when they pretend they're teaching self defense, it bothers me. I don't mind when a school teaches acrobatics, but when they pretend it's self defense, it bothers me.

And I don't mind when a school teaches fighting, but when they pretend it's self defense, it bothers me. Just like I would expect them to be bothered if I taught self defense and pretended it was for competition, or positive self affirmation, or acrobatics.

So I got to thinking tonight. I think self defense instruction needs to incoporate more than just combatives. Punching and kicking and grappling are all an important part of self defense, but they aren't all there is.

I think a real self defense program should include de-escalation techniques. It should include teaching people how to walk away from a fight, and teaching them when they can avoid one. It should include information about the legal ramifications of self defense. What local laws apply to violent self defense? It should include real world information about predators and predatory behavior. It should include information about the bio-physical reactions the body will have to violent stimulus. The student should understand that [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]in a stressful situation, the hypothalamus releases aldosterone, epinephrine and norepinephrine, thyroxine, and cortisol. Sugar is released into the blood, as well as endorphins. The student should be taught something of how and why these chemical reactions occur and what the effects of them will be. It should include crime statistics, as well as information on identifying and protecting one's self from dangerous situations. It should include education in risk assessment and avoidance. [/FONT]It should also include plenty of punching and kicking and grappling too.

Now, I know that a lot of you guys are teaching all this and more, but I wonder sometimes how many schools are teaching all the punching and kicking and grappling, and none of the other stuff.

Again, that's fine, but to me, that's not self defense. That's fighting. Fighting can be fun, and fighting can be effective, but fighting isn't self defense. And it bothers me when people say it is.

So my question is, is your school teaching self defense? Or is it teaching fighting. Again, I'm not saying one is better or more important than the other. One is my interest and approach to martial arts, one isn't, but I don't demand that everyone agree with my perspective. I'm just curious.

What else do you guys think are important aspects of a self defense curriculum?


-Rob

In my opinion there is no other reason to study martial arts. Our style of Ju-Jitsu is a strictly self-defense system of martial art, just solid techniques designed to get you out of trouble as soon as possible with as little injury to yourself as possible. I agree with your outlook on and reason for starting, learning and teaching martial arts 100%. This is my opinion and philosophy on why I teach martial arts.

Michael
 

matt_mcg

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Our club doesn't really train self-defense at all. The emphasis is on the art (savate) as a sport and there's little self-defense practice, and no claims made for the training as a tool for self-defense.*

I completely disagree with the thesis that self-defense is the only reason to train in a martial art. I'm also [and this is a subject for a different thread] fairly skeptical about a lot of self-defense orientated school's ability to actually teach people to defend themselves. Not that they necessarily can't, but that a lot don't.

* there are occasional self-defense orientated seminars, but those aren't the core of the normal class training.
 

searcher

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I don't think they have to be mutually exclusive. A school can teach both and they tend to compliment each other.

So, I teach both.
 

jks9199

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I try to teach both, because effective fighting skills will provide self defense skills, with the qualification that you must understand the difference between "fighting" and "defending yourself." That means not getting locked into the idea that the duel of sparring or competition is the same as dealing with a real violent attack.
 

Daniel Sullivan

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In hapkido, it is all self defense, as there is no sport aspect in our curriculum. In taekwondo, it is a mix of some SD, some sport, and some of the postitive affirmation/self confidence. Kendo is all about ... well... kendo, which is all about fighting.

Daniel
 

Chris Parker

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Hi,

I'm going to take this back to what I think Rob was getting at in the first place, namely that self defence and fighting technique are not necessarily the same thing. A school may teach very realistic and effective fighting techniques, but not be a very good self defence art due to a variety of reasons, such as a lack of understanding of the legal side of things, or simply that the techniques may be brought over from a military system that isn't really applicable to a modern street setting.

In our schools, we try to take all of the above into consideration, including the legal requirements and ramifications of getting into a violent confrontation. In addition, we cover such topics as verbal de-escallation, making yourself a less-viable target, driving for self-defence (against car jacking, etc), protection systems for friends/loved ones, body guarding principles for the same, anti-surveilance for when being targeted by a criminal, intuition development, knowledge of body language and other cues for potential violent situations, and a number of other topics. So I would say, yes, we teach self defence.

In addition to that, however, we also teach a number of topics that I would never describe as self defence, although they are definately combative and effective, such as traditional weaponry (really, spear techniques are fun, but hardly street legal), classical techniques and more. I think that about covers it...
 

terryl965

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I teach both fighting and Self Defense and just for the record I believe they go hand in hand.
 

Daniel Sullivan

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Hi,

self defence and fighting technique are not necessarily the same thing. A school may teach very realistic and effective fighting techniques, but not be a very good self defence art due to a variety of reasons, such as a lack of understanding of the legal side of things, or simply that the techniques may be brought over from a military system that isn't really applicable to a modern street setting.
Well said. Ring fighting is an entirely different dynamic from defending against an assailant. While some of those cool competition moves may "work" in a real life situation, they may not be effective in a real life situation.

Also, the mindset is different. In competition, there is a level of respect between the two competitors and both are entering the ring willingly and are prepared for the fight to the best of their resource.

In an attack situation, one party is generally unprepared and not willing. There is no respect for the victim on the part of the attacker, and the victim is focused on survival, not victory.

That said, there is a goodly amount of crossover between fighting and self defense.

Daniel
 

Chris Parker

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Yeah, but not just the mindset. In a competition environment, you have prepared in most cases for the event, whether endurance for an extended tournament, or a particular opponent for a particular match. In these cases, you will find yourself going up against someone of similar age, rank, experience, size etc., under the protection of rules and officials, with only one opponent who is in front of you. You know basicall what they will do, and what they will use (for example, in a boxing match, you don't need to worry about kicks or throws, a judoka doesn't need to worry about a knife being pulled, a kendoka knows that they will be hit with a shinai, but not thrown or struck, and a kickboxer won't be set upon by a gang).

Self defence, on the other hand, has to assume the worst. There are more of them than you can see, they're bigger/stronger/faster than you, they are probably armed, likely on drugs or drunk to limit their ability to feel pain, and they won't play fair, so getting hit by somone behind you while his buddy is screaming at you and threatening you from in front is not uncommon. So, no Terryl965, I don't quite feel they are one and the same, but as Daniel said, there can be a great amount of crossover between the two.
 

Drac

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In the academy we teach self defense...
 

just2kicku

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I believe that fighting and self defense can be, and often are the same. We teach SD/fighting as a last resort, but to defend yourself you have to fight. Now to go out and look for trouble is a different story, that's abuse of the arts, and will have it's own rammifications at the dojo if we find out about it.

We teach that talk is cheap, no need for fighting/sd if it's a word game, simply back up and leave,eyes on the confronter (is that a word). Now should it turn physical with no where to go, then you have no choice but to fight/defend yourself. We teach techniques against street style attacks and against another MAist with a bad attitude. Does that mean it's a fight, or is it self defense? Any time it turns physical, it's a fight, even when your're defending yourself.

The thing is knowing when to stop, we teach that should a fight happen, you want to disable your attacker quickly. 2 reasons 1) so he can't re-attack 2) so you can look for his friends that might try to jump you.

Now as far as the physiology of chemicals that happen to the body, don't know about that. Fight or flight, that's it. We stress staying focused, not looking like a potential victim, and being aware of your surroundings, but all in all I think that fighting is self defense.

Now if you mean fighting as in patty cake, tag your it tournament style, we do that also. But mostly to work on timing and cardio.

Just my 2 cents.
 

LuckyKBoxer

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Semantics are a funny thing. I suggest every single person goes to any dictionary, online dictionary, and look up the word fighting. What every single martial art teaches as far as physical curriculum against another opponent is in fact a form of fighting. Regardless of whether you call it self defense, or self offense.

That does not make it bad or good, it just is what it is, fighting. You have defensive, offensive, sports, combat, verbal, etc. in regards to forms of fighting.

I look at true self defense as every single thing a person can do to avoid trouble.

Look at what effects most people in a deadly, or dangerous way..

More people are going to die from their diet then they will from an attacker.
More people will die in a car accident then from an attacker.
More people will die from cigarettes then from an attacker.
The list can go on and on.
So what is true self defense in my opinion?
Its eliminating the threats to ones self with as much efficiency as possible.
Meaning things like...
avoiding dangerous areas
learning avoidance techniques
controlling your diet
controlling your weight
environmental awareness at all times
The list can go on and on.

In regards to the studio, we teach fighting for the vast majority of the time. Both defensive, and offensive. We do however run a bully buster program for the kids to teach them about bullies, and about how to deal with them in ways to avoid violence. We run a program to inform kids and parents on dangers from abduction, and what to be wary of. We talk to the all students about the legal ramifications of going from defensive fighting to offensive fighting and the danger of being charged with assault. We advise everyone to work on their diets, and aspects of their lives that will make them healthier, but we do not promote any single diet, or workout to do so. Although the Jiu Jitsu side does promote the Gracie Diet.

Everyone is entitled to their own verbage, or semantics, but to be straight to the point, any physical curriculum involving two people is fighting, plain and simple.
 

bowser666

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I believe MA's are meant for Self Defense. Yes schools can train fighting as well, but is it fighting for trophies ? or is it fighting as in self defense when you are defending yourself in a fight situation. I think its all about MA's teach you to be defensive , rather than being the aggressor.
 

Aiki Lee

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In my dojo we ware taught both fighting skills and self-defense.
Like the OP stated, we do work on de-escalation drills and spend time focusing on what attackers want, what kinds there are, and how to avoid them. Our self-defense comabtive skills rely on our fighting skills in the end if things boil down to it. So we train to hurt the human body in the most efficient way possible. At higher levels you practice more methods on how to subdue a person, but it is general believed that in our organization that you only put your hands on someone when you are prepared to break or kill them. We discuss very clearly the legal and finacial ramifications of what we may have to do, and it is up to all of us to decide when it is worth it to act.

So we do both and spend an equal amount of time on both. I think that is what classifies us as a modern warrior system. You need both to be one IMO.
 

Daniel Sullivan

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Semantics are a funny thing. I suggest every single person goes to any dictionary, online dictionary, and look up the word fighting. What every single martial art teaches as far as physical curriculum against another opponent is in fact a form of fighting. Regardless of whether you call it self defense, or self offense.
Yes, this is true.

But when we say fighting, it is referring to consensual 'fights', usually competition. So, if I train to be a fighter, I am training to 'fight' under a specific rule set.

Self defense is 'fighting' to survive or to escape from the specific danger presented by an attacker or attackers who may or may not be armed. Self defense, also encompasses defense of others, though technically that is no longer 'self' defense.

The terms are semantic to a degree, but they do serve to differentiate specific training methods and skill sets.

If you come to my school and ask me to teach you to fight competatively in taekwondo, you will learn specifically to punch to the torso only, kick to the torso and head, to block, parry, and dodge, how to use timing, distance, and footwork, and to never grab, push, or sweep your opponent. I'll even show you the prevalent idiom of keeping your hands low and tell you why it works in World Taekwondo Federation competition.

If you come and tell me that you just lost your high paying job, took a lower paying one and had to move to Lincoln Park (yes, there is a Lincoln Park in Rockville, Maryland) and that you want to learn to handle yourself just so that you won't be a victim, I'll teach you very differently.

Notice, I don't say that one is better than the other. There is also overlap: being able to judge distance, dodge, block, and deliver effective strikes are beneficial to both SD and competition. Other aspects are different, and the training for them are different.

Thus the semantic is beneficial in identifying where someone is coming from in discussion.

Daniel
 

Aikicomp

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Our club doesn't really train self-defense at all. The emphasis is on the art (savate) as a sport and there's little self-defense practice, and no claims made for the training as a tool for self-defense.*

What a coincidence, we use Savate as part of our Ju-Jitsu curriculum for self defense wow small world. We mostly use it for a finishing technique because the kicks are pretty telegraphed and would offer easy access to a variety of throws, locks and takedowns, however, they are very powerful kicks and for an opponent who is already stunned or loosened up they will finish the altercation very nicely.

I completely disagree with the thesis that self-defense is the only reason to train in a martial art. I'm also [and this is a subject for a different thread] fairly skeptical about a lot of self-defense orientated school's ability to actually teach people to defend themselves. Not that they necessarily can't, but that a lot don't.

* there are occasional self-defense orientated seminars, but those aren't the core of the normal class training.

Oh yes, I've seen a lot questionable technique from the practical side for sure. I've seen some instructors, as you say, hold techniques back. I can't understand the logic behind that way of thinking though, especially for a school dedicated to self-defense. It just doesn't make sense to me. I'm glad I found the right teacher who never had that kind of minset, doing so would be a definite disservice to my students and to the style of Ju-Jitsu I teach.

Michael
 

matt_mcg

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FWIW, a lot of savate kicks shouldn't be telegraphed if they are done properly.

With kicks other than the coup de pied bas and the frontal revers it's going to be obvious that a kick is coming -- so it's telegraphed in that sense -- but the particular kick that's coming shouldn't be obvious.

The high chambering of the fouette and the chasse should disguise whether your are going to throw a high, low or midline kick and even whether you are going to throw a fouette or a chasse frontal.

The coup de pied bas and the frontal revers shouldn't really be telegraphed at all -- you can throw both from inside punching range.
 

Shotgun Buddha

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It teaches both. And I am increasingly of the opinion that a person should learn fighting first, and then develop how to apply these skills to self defence after that. One of the advantages of training someone in a competitive fashion first is that it is a good way to develop the skill-sets fully and functionally.
Teach them to strike, to grapple, how to fight on the ground, and how to run like hell of course. Once they've got the basic abilities, then start making the training more specific.
Make victory to be about escape rather than just beating your opponent, introduce the possibilities of more opponents, weapons etc.
I figure from what Ive seen it would take roughly 1.5 - 2 years till a person can use basic fighting skills in a functional comfortable way.
So perhaps that much time focusing on those alone would be wise.

Let the folks learn their maths before we try to teach them accountancy :)
 
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blindsage

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Fighting is not a word that means 'competition', it means fighting. Most martial arts were not intended for strictly SD. IMHO self-defense is a PC word applied to MA in this country a couple of decades ago to mask the reality of most MA. If you want to defend yourself properly, yes you need to have certain skills that don't pertain to a direct conflict: situational awareness, location, verbal de-escalation skills, etc. But when it comes to a confrontation, you either have fighting skills, or your a victim. To me self-defense implies basic techniques to make an unskilled person less of an automatic victim. But actually developing skills to prevail in a violent confrontation is learning to fight, period. Because you don't initiate the confrontation doesn't mean you aren't fighting.

In regards to the 'purpose' of MA, how to we forget that we call them martial arts in English. MARTIAL. For war/combat/fighting. They aren't called self-defense arts in most of their original tongues either. They were designed for war, or for personal combat, period. I'm a non-violent, easy going guy that de-escalates or walks away from every confrontation I'm involved in, but my relatively peaceful personality and desire for peaceful situations doesn't change the fact that fighting is fighting, and that most of the disciplines we study are for fighting. I don't believe in learning self- defense skills for a fight, I believe in learning how to fight for a fight, so I have the skills to actually walk away.
 
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