Which is More Important for Self Defense, Firearms or Martial Arts Training?

DamianRoss

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The plain simple truth is that martial arts have their limitations, and anyone who tells you differently is a fool. Remember, if fighting with empty hands was all it was cracked up to be, we wouldnt have the need for any weapons. On the other hand, just because you carry a weapon doesnt mean youll ever have the opportunity to use it. Many people, especially in law enforcement, think that because they have firearms training they will have no need for hand to hand tactics, but this couldnt be farther from the truth. Statistics indicate that a police officer is more likely to be physically assaulted well before they have the opportunity to deploy their weapon. There is only one sure answer to this debate; to be successful in close combat you need both.

One of the most persistent myths about martial arts is that they remove the need for weapons training. The fact is outside of three feet you're dealing with a gun, and inside of three feet you have a real fight on your hands. Many people genuinely believe that they have to choose between gun ownership and martial arts, self defense training, but they're wrong. Historically, martial arts and weapons training have been proven to work together to create an effective form of self defense and close combat.

When primitive muskets were introduced to the samurai by Dutch and Portuguese traders, they didn't abandon their bows or swords, but they began issuing the new weapon to their infantry. Even Saigō Takamori, who led the Satsuma Rebellion that was depicted in the film The Last Samurai, taught firearms training in his martial arts schools. In actuality the rebel samurai all carried firearms in addition to their traditional weapons, and the new imperial army had many samurai serving as officers. The combinations of firearms and martial arts led to many brutal close combat fights between the rebels, and government forces before the fighting would come an end in a bloody charge.

The pioneers of close combat in World War II, who brought martial arts to the military didn't neglect weapons training. To the contrary, self defense expert William E. Fairbairn who studied various martial arts, and had a black belt inKodokan Judo was also a great proponent of realistic firearms training. During his law enforcement career he taught his students how to survive actual combat by using guns, knives, and martial arts. When Fairbairn met up with Rex Applegate during the war he was already teaching similar shooting techniques. Both men understood that in order to be ready for combat, a warrior had to be deadly with and without weapons.

You would be surprised how many dedicated martial arts own firearms. Some carry them because they regard their sport martial arts training for what it is and have no misconceptions about surviving and assault. Real fights are simply unfair, and if you're dealing with multiple attackers, a firearm can quickly deter them, giving you time to escape.

The world is not a perfect place and chances are you will be taken by surprise. Training in martial arts you will be a better able to protect yourself when your weapons are out of reach. You can't take your weapons every where, but you can still be ready for close combat.

For a long time there has been a rift between "gun guys," and "martial arts guys," and it is unnecessary. To be effective and survive in close combat you need both good weapons and self defense training. Neither one replaces the other so divide your time between the range and the martial arts school. Both martial arts and shooting are about being in the right mindset, to do what you need to do to survive. By understanding both, your odds of survival only improve. If done correctly, your martial arts and self defense training should fall right inline with your firearms training.

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Brian R. VanCise

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Personally in the Martial Science that I practice and teach they go together and are very important for any practitioner to know.
 

jks9199

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Personally in the Martial Science that I practice and teach they go together and are very important for any practitioner to know.
For many people -- empty hand self defense, with one or two weapons, such as stick and knife, is sufficient for their needs. In some cases, firearms training is very difficult to get, and guns are rare. But -- if the opportunity is there, I encourage everyone to acquire at least basic firearms skills so that they understand what a gun is capable of.

For those in law enforcement, or those who choose to carry a gun, empty hand training is essential. You MUST have sufficient weapons retention skills to keep your gun and sufficient skills to avoid being forced to draw a gun in a situation where it's unjustified.

To decide if you can afford to dispense with at least some basic firearms training, look at the likliehood that you'll be assaulted by someone with a gun. As this becomes more likely, the more you need to know about and be reasonably confident handling guns. If it's extremely unlikely -- you may not need it.

Note that I have emphatically not dismissed all weapons training! Everyone who trains for self defense should, in my opinion, train with at least one class of weapon (like sticks or knives), and probably more than one.
 

Sukerkin

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An additional thing to think on in this sphere is that one of the primary benefits of martial arts training is a heightening of your general sense of awareness of what is around you and what constitutes a threat within a given sphere.

Each category of art (unarmed, hand-to-hand weapons and missile/firearm) all have their own contributions to make to this threat-assessment-envelope. I firmly believe them to be additive rather than mutually exclusive.
 

arnisador

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I hear about someone defending themselves open-handed or with a knife/club much more often than I hear of someone defending themselves with a firearm. Most of the time when I read about firearm usage it's either offensive or possibly the specialized (albeit quite important) case of defending one's home.

Based on that, while I think both are important, if you're not a LEO or in the military or the like then I have to wonder how often one would use the firearms training vs. what we think of as "standard" martial arts training. When I think of how many knife-carriers I know who say that when jumped they were surprised (else why didn't they get out of there first?) and never had time to draw their weapon, I think empty-hand is primary--if for no other reason that to buy time to access whatever weapon you do carry. Of course this is part of firearms usage training, as it is with the knife--but it comes first for the average civilian.
 

tellner

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Which is more important? That depends very much on who you are and what your situation is.

Guns are a useful tool. For some situations they are the only reasonable tool. Most of the martial artists I associate with have guns or live in areas where they are illegal. When a gun is appropriate nothing else will really do.

But they're not the right answer to all self defense questions. They aren't always there. They aren't always legal. They aren't always appropriate.

Most of all, they can become a substitute for self defense.

Anyone who has worked in a gun store or on a range or taught self defense or firearms safety in the US has had people come to them and say "What kind of gun should I buy for self defense?" Sometimes it's a good question. Usually it means that they've just realized that the world is a sometimes-dangerous place.

Throughout history serious martial arts have centered around the best weapons a person can get a hold of. If that means "fists" it's fists. If something else is available the bare hands part becomes "What to do when you don't have a weapon." Which is more important, weapons or self defense, is the wrong question.

Without the will to drop the hammer a gun is just an expensive lump of metal and plastic. With the correct mindset a gun is a useful means to the end. There's a lot of people who own guns and quite a few who carry them who are not prepared to make what some instructors call The Decision. There are others who are able to but who think that the gun is the answer to everything. If they don't have it at hand or it doesn't do the job they have no other plan or strategy. They've also made a serious mistake somewhere along the line.

If your mind isn't right you need some sort of training to get it that way. That might be martial arts or firearms instruction.

If your mind is right you need the means to carry out your will. At that point you need good information so you can make rational choices. Guns might be part of that. Martial arts might be. A lot of people will choose both, time and money permitting.

You're the guy who has to keep you safe. Figure out what's best for you. Act accordingly. Take others' advice. Always remember that they have their agendas which might not be yours. Act like your life depends on coming up with the answer because it does.
 

Deaf Smith

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First let us presume the one wishing to train is willing to use lethal force. For even empty handed techniques can and do cause death.

If you do not have access to firearms, well then of course martial arts training is a must, and the only alternative unless one is willing to break the laws of wherever you live.

If, on the other hand, you do have access to firearms, by all means posess and train with them. They are force multipliers, just like swords, clubs, knives, etc... only more so. A well practiced pistolero can definatly take on several attackers, even skilled martial artist, with a good chance of prevailing.

And there are those who are handicapped and thus firearms are a must for any realistic defense against armed and determined attackers.

So I feel if you can aquire firearms, then by all means do get them and get proper training in their use.

I can say this based on being a 5th dan, IDPA expert or above in all classifications, and a graduate of quite a few shooting and defensive schools.

deaf
 
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