What’s the difference between martial arts and self-defense? It’s quite simple when you look at it. Self-defense is about getting home in one piece. Martial arts is about self-improvement, fitness, and looking good.
Most martial arts will teach you some self defense skills and will certainly boost your self confidence; but whether your skills will save you in a real self-defense situation purely depends on how the incident starts.
You need to realize that martial arts training in a gym or a dojo is a strictly-controlled environment. It has to be so, or else there would be so many injuries to the participants that the school would quickly go out of business, and the owner would be bankrupted by lawsuits or thrown into jail.
So martial artists are taught to ‘fight’ by a set of rules. Those rules are designed to prevent the contestants from getting seriously injured. Receiving a few bruises, or even a black eye does not count as an injury per se. I have been taught that injury is where you are carried off to a hospital trauma department. Injury is where a surgeon has to go to work on you before your body can start to heal. Injury is where you cannot carry on, no matter how determined you are.
A broken leg is an injury, so is a ruptured testicle.
So even the toughest, full contact martial arts still have very few serious injuries. If they had more, they would not have many students left.
But out on the street if you choose to get into a fight, you have no way of knowing how a fight is going to end. There is no referee to stop the fight if it gets totally out of hand, and there are no rules. None whatsoever. So you have no way of knowing in advance whether the other guy is going to drop you with a sucker punch and then mark or maim you for life while you are lying on the ground dazed.
It does happen. There are plenty of psychos out there, just looking for an excuse to do serious damage to somebody else… anybody else – and you will do fine if you are stupid enough to make yourself available to them.
That is why you should always apologise if necessary and walk away from a fight. So what if the guy calls you chicken. Are you really so vulnerable that it worries you?
It is only in the movies that the hero proves he is tougher than the bad guy. We would all like to be such a hero, but then ‘being tough’ like that is social posturing. It’s trying to be the alpha male – the top dog – so you can impress and win the girls. Save that for the ring, where there is a referee.
Wanting to be a hero will get you crippled or killed. Avoid the fight and go home in one piece.
That’s my take on it. Does anyone else care to comment?
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