Should everyone be training in self defence?
This is an interesting question which the following article, ‘Top Ten Reasons Why Everyone Should Take Self-Defense Classes’ on Lifehack, tries to address. (Many thanks to my colleague, Jack Barnett, from IRC Training, for highlighting this on Facebook the other day.)
Now I found the article to be extremely useful and illuminating, as it certainly did expand on 10 very positive reasons why everybody should train in self defence. I certainly agree with the claims regarding building self-confidence, goal-setting and how to train to effectively deal with the stress factor we know as ‘fight-or-flight.’ It also indicates the usefulness of martial arts in providing a solid basis for learning self defence (I’m a big fan of martial arts and have trained in them for many years.)
However, there are some important points which this article appears to miss, but to which I’d like to add because I believe they are crucial when learning self defence.
First of all, it’s extremely important for anyone using force in self defence to understand UK law regarding ‘reasonable force’ (to be fair, this article is obviously American although they do have similar legal concepts in the US as well.) Many martial art and self-defence systems under-estimate its significance or even fail to include it in the training. Now this is potentially serious – especially if some-one using force to defend themselves acts disproportionately or excessively. At the end of the day, you have to justify want you do and ultimately this could be to a court of law.
So, in my opinion, it’s absolutely essential to include an understanding of reasonable force in any self defence training – which is another reason, to my mind, why everyone should train in self defence in order to gain an understanding of this (as long as it is included in the training, of course!)
Secondly (and certainly the article does mention this point when when discussing how training in self defence can assist management of the ‘fight-or-flight’ process), I think it’s also important to understand that the most effective way of overcoming the dire effects of the stress response (when the heart beat exceeds 175 bpm) is not just to have the right ‘conditioning’ but also to use methods/techniques/principles that are not only effective but also simple. In other words, this means using techniques based on something called ‘Guthrie’s Law’ (to find out more about this, check out the free video we’ve produced on the ‘5 Common Mistakes People Make When Considering A Self-Defence Course’.)
Now regular and effective training that creates good physical conditioning is important, but can everyone who trains ever reach the same physical capability of Bruce Lee? The truth is that we all differ from the point of view of physiology and psychological capacity (depending on such factors as age, gender, build etc.) Indeed, there are certain techniques that are often taught that not everyone can perform simply because they cannot physically do them. For instance, what would be the point of teaching a person a high-kick if they couldn’t physically do it due to a permanent leg injury or impairment?
It’s also impossible for anyone (as a top athlete recently told me) to retain 100% tip-top condition all of the time. Also, with the busy lives that we lead, it’s sometimes difficult for us to be able to train as regularly as we’d need to maintain the necessary level of conditioning.
So, I although I agree with whole-heatedly with the requirement for fitness and conditioning training (especially important if you are aiming to become a top martial arts fighter), I think it’s also important to learn something that will increase our chances of survival in a confrontation situation that takes account of our innate limitations. After all, no-one is or can be invincible and self defence is all about survival (not winning a fight!)
In this respect, learning techniques based on Gurthrie’s Law (which are gross-motor movement based i.e use large muscle groups) is another good reason for everyone to learn self defence, whatever their background or capabilities.
You check out the article here to draw your own conclusions: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/top-10-reasons-why-everyone-should-take-self-defense-classes.html
(And if it is simple, straight-forward, legally-compliant training which you’re after, then you may be interested in checking out the self defence training we offer through NFPS. Click here for more details.)
I’d be interested in finding out your opinions on this. Why do you think its important that everyone should learn self defence? Please feel free to leave a comment below.
N Davies Training