Interesting topic! Reality-based training is often not a part of a standard workout in the dojo. And if it is, you run the risk of the disillusioned lotus-eater running off to the scam artists who will tell the eager student that his techniques are "guaranteed" to work! Fine, let them go you say. We don't really need them anyway.
When you are trying to keep the doors of your school open, you need students to pay tuition regardless of their reasons for being there. Some don't want self-defense; reasons for studying karate can be as varied as the individuals. Some are looking for fitness, some are attracted to Oriental culture, some just want to learn the pretty moves. Some want the mental discipline, or relaxation, or self-confidence. That all of these things tie into the study of martial arts - like JD mentioned on the thread in the Roundtable - the beauty is there, but the reality is as well, it depends mostly upon the instructor and the emphasis they place on each aspect. Some dojos are more traditional, others have a more relaxed atmosphere. This is fine - as my sensei has told me: a student will gravitate to the teacher s/he needs at the time. However, it should be the responsiblity of every instructor not to give a false impression about what these karate skills can do for a student. A black belt is not a badge of invinciblity. If an instructor does not care to focus on reality-based training, s/he should at least be honest enough to inform the students that under stress and in a street situation, things will be radically different than what they appear in the controlled and friendly dojo environment.
How far they wish to carry this will be up to them, and the balance will come with experience. Too much emphasis with brand new students WILL scare them off; but by the same token, no one should be able to test for shodan without an understanding that real-life situations are going to involve more than just the ability to do a pretty kata.
Can a sensei without a lot (or any) experience in real life confrontations teach effective self-defense? Perhaps, if they are not deluded themselves. I only worked as a bouncer for just short of a year - and it was nothing like what is described in Peyton Quinn's book A Bouncer's Guide...
In the exposures I've had to violent or life-threatening situations, I can say that I know that it IS radically different from a dojo environment, yet martial arts training can augment skills necessary for survival. So as an instructor I try to inject a bit of reality into my classes, taking time to explore techniques in ways that sometimes depart from the prescribed forumula. I recommend books like The Gift of Fear
and Real Fighting
and now also Strong on Defense
so that my students can stretch their minds as well as their bodies.*And now for a word from our sponsor*
Over on my forum, there's a thread about mindsetting on fear...and my last post there touches on much the same subject. Interesting "convergence" of forums so to speak. In the thread, which was started by David, some excellent resources are mentioned for those interested in reading more about reality-based training. Throughout the past year on the forums I've been compiling a list of texts quoted by Van Sensei and others here on this forum and have consequently added a page to my website with links to many of them on Amazon.com where it's really easy to buy them online. And now for a shameless plug: Click here to see the page.
Seriously, most of these books have been read and discussed by participants on this forum - and if you have any to add please let me know.
And we now return you to our regularly scheduled program.
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