Integrated Self Defense Training

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Integrated Self Defense Training

Postby RACastanet » Sat Mar 27, 1999 1:04 am

To all: Lately, I have been doing more research and reading regarding self defense, crime statistics, including books by Izumi, Ayoob, De Becker, NRA publications......

The more research that I do, the more a self defense mindset has crept into the classes I teach. At the beginning of a new session for beginners, I used to tell them I am NOT teaching self defense. Now I start each session in our 'circle', before we bow in, with a little self defense tidbit, a statistic, perhaps a handout covering awarerness.

During opening exercizes, or when breaking down a kata, I will stop and give a self defense example, or two, of a technique.

An interesting thing is happening. We have a number of women in the classes, and when I show what to do with this knee or where to plant that fingertip the ladies are really watching with interest. When doing hojo undo, they follow along. When being shown a defense application, I can feel their intense gaze. I mean really feel it!

Hmmmm............This is causing me to ask myself why they are here, in this class. The answer is that they want to learn to protect themselves, their children. Uechi-ryu at the healthclub is the path they are taking quite by accident, because it is available.

I'm toying with the idea of coming up with a self defense class for the health club, and use it to feed the Uechi group. However, I am neither certified or qualified to do so. Or am I? What are your thoughts out there?

Rich in Richmond on the James
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Integrated Self Defense Training

Postby Lori » Sat Mar 27, 1999 3:15 am

Hi Rich-san,

If you have been studying and teaching Uechi-ryu for any length of time, you've got a good foundation. Add to that the reading and research and awareness you are cultivating and you are adding some good credentials. If you work on cultivating mindset and spend time with your students letting them know that technique alone will NOT save their lives in a stress-filled life-or-death situation - then you are adding more reality to your program. Peyton Quinn states in his book Real Fighting that <blockquote>An Effective self-defense program must condition the student to control and channel fear and to control the disabling effects of adrenal stress.</blockquote>
If you can inject some reality based training into your course - you will have a program based on substance instead of myth, hearsay or "art". Quinn also states that actual experience surviving a violent encounter is not necessarily a requirement for teaching an effective self-defense program - more important is the emphasis on scenario-based training and cultivation of mindset. Martial arts have a self-defense value - but a student will never realize the potential of that value simply by learning to perform the techniques. So the self-defense class, according to Quinn, needs to contain elements that prepare the student in other ways. The books you mention are great - I would add Real Fighting to the list for background on reality-based training.

Now, for a bit of humility here. I taught my first "self-defense" class two years ago - before finding this forum and before reading "Gift of Fear." It is now required reading in any self-defense class I teach! I taught the first class loosely based on karate - with warm-up exercises and even sanchin - but emphasis was more on appliction of technique. Now I teach quite differently - the martial arts aspects are still there - but the major emphasis is no longer on technique but on mindset! I don't incorporate a bulletman suit - but I do have one of our male dan ranks dress up in protective gear - harass the woman and let her try some full force strikes. Makes a BIG difference. We also discuss Gift of Fear, local crime stories, outcomes and "could have beens."

I was encouraged to teach that first class by my sensei and the director of the local recreation center. And it was successful in that it was well-received, and many of the ladies continuted studying in the dojo after the course. Since then, I have noticed the women in the dojo paying serious attention when I talk about the "reality" aspects of self-defense vs. karate technique in the dojo. So I continue to offer these classes a couple times a year. The rec-center provides the space, takes only a small cut, and does all the advertising. I end up with more students in the dojo and a group willing to get serious about learning ways to protect themselves.

I don't think that I did the ladies in my initial classes a disservice, but I do have a different attitude as to the content of a class advertised as "self-defense" than I did prior to that first class. I don't consider myself an expert - but I do feel that I am an educator. I am brutally honest with the class and let them know that no class can completely prepare them for the effects of the "chemical cocktail," however, by being aware of this eventuality - at least they are not deluded that a karate class is going to make them invincible!

It also can definitely increase dojo enrollment - when I first taught that class 2 years ago - I was the only female in the dojo at the time. (One or two had come and gone.) I had 12 women in that first class, and eight of those converted to the dojo when the class was over! Of those, five of the original class are still studying almost two years later, and their participation has encouraged more women to study - at this point we have more women students than we ever did before!

So give it a shot. Be honest. Keep reading. (Especially Quinn's book) It will be an experience and YOU will learn a lot. And you probably will "feed" the dojo.

Good luck!

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