For some time now I have been convinced that nearly all martial arts schools teach something other than real life self defense skills. Trust me, it took me a long time to reach this conclusion, it was a long journey. I loved, and still do, karate, especially the style I learned while living in New York; Oyama /Kyokushin Karate, but I have come to realize it has little application in real life situations.
Perhaps my first "awakening" was the subtle message planted in my brain many years ago. There was a tiny advertisement in Black Belt magazine, not a very "sexy" ad. It showed a man with a knife to another man's neck and it read, "Do you know how to get out of this situation?" I think the old man in the photo was Charles Nelson, but I am not sure, it was so long ago.
Yet, something stuck, as much as I tried to ignore the ad, the truth of that challenge stayed somewhere inside me. The truth has a way of doing that; if you are a truth seeking person.
And so it lingered.
As the years progressed and I grew older and wiser I gradually became a Krav Maga instructor, a reality based instructor with the help and guidance of some of the best in the field. Today I am privileged to give back and train others, but I am still learning, always learning; "Always a student and sometimes a teacher."
Today one of my students called me, his wallet was just stolen. Perhaps I have not emphasized this enough in our training; watch those around you, guard your possessions carefully, know your surroundings, be on guard even when out having fun.
When we began martial arts training we begin with our kicks and punches, and blocks and katas. Gradually we do some spin kicks, maybe even jump kicks. But when do we teach defense against a pickpocket attempt? When do we teach defense against emotional abuse? When do we teach defense against a bad relationship?
Is this important? Oh yes. Is it glamorous? No, not really. Is it our responsibility? Yes, I believe it is.
As I grow older I see the many ways we hurt each other; sometimes it is a stab in the back and sometimes it is a stab in the heart, and sometimes it is ruining your vacation by stealing your wallet and passport and travel documents. We must train for all these possibilities, we must be ready.
Yes, I gained a great deal from my old days in the traditional full contact dojo, and I miss those days. I still having some memories that I feel or see everyday; damaged fingers and knuckles, a bad hamstring, a scar above my eye etc, yes, the memories. But I realize now that we must add more to our training, it most be more complete. After all let us remember what dojo means, it means "the place of the way", the place to learn how to live, and survive.
So my fellow instructors and students let us not forget to teach little kids how to cross the street, and big kids how to hold on to their wallets, and for all people to hold on to their dreams.
Wishing you a wonderful weekend.