The majority of training in martial arts or any self defense system is spent working on techniques with the body’s natural weapons. This could be the legs, the arms, the head, the teeth. Anything that you have at your natural disposal.
Normally there would also be some weapon training and defense against weapon training. There isn’t normally much work done on improvised weapons, so let’s have a look at what that could be and if it is any use.
It’s something worth looking at, as anyone with any experience will tell you, someone attacking you would have no problem with picking up the nearest object and hitting you with it. Especially if they thought they could beat you when using it. So it makes sense that you might well do the same.
Firstly I would like to point out a common issue with some weapons, not strictly improvised ones, people may carry for self-defense. These could be a spray, a knife maybe or a kubotan stick. The issue is, that if you don’t practice the use of the weapon you are carrying, then it could actually be worse than using your body’s weapons.
Because when fight or flight kicks in and you are full of adrenalin, if you haven’t trained in what to do, you could fail. Your weapon could be concealed and the actual process of getting the weapon out is quite a fine motor skill.
Under pressure, this is a skill that could fail.
How many times have we seen videos of police officers struggling to take out their pistol when under pressure ? And this is something they train constantly to perfect.
So if you are planning to carry something that you can use legally, you must train to use it. This also applies to an improvised weapon.
Let’s have a look in a bit more detail how attacks to the legs, by kicking, can be a very powerful weapon in Self-Defense.
The area most attacked in a typical violent robbery or confrontation, is the head and rightly so. It’s the shortest route to incapacitating an opponent if done well. So what tends to happen is there is an all out free for all, with swings to the head, hoping something will land. It’s the go to attack as many videos on Youtube show.
But what about kicking?
The problem with kicking, even if you are very good at it, is that it often isn’t very effective in the melee of a real street fight. It is difficult to execute and you can easily lose your balance, making you vulnerable to counter attacks. Plus, on top of that, it uses up more energy than other techniques and you can tire quickly, especially with extra adrenaline pumping round your system. It’s draining. But in spite of all of that, they can be effective, if you keep the attacks below waist height. Kicking to the legs can be a nasty surprise for your opponent as it is a form of attack that is unexpected.
Most people, whether they are involved in Martial Arts or not, have heard of the UFC ( Ultimate Fighting Championship ) or mixed martial arts. It’s the latest fashion in combat competitions and designed to test someones all round martial arts skills. Boxing still pulls in huge audiences but it doesn’t have the variety of skills necessary to master mixed martial art competitions.
But is it something useful in everyday street self-defense?
The argument for yes is that you learn a range of exceptional skills, stamina and toughness that an average person simply doesn’t have. So if you ended up in a physical confrontation you could dominate with ease and your opponent would be in serious trouble.
Alternatively, the argument for no, is that this very same skill level and the sense of confidence it brings can land you in serious trouble as your awareness levels and thinking skills take second place. This can put you in dangerous situations that you could have avoided in environments beyond your control, where there are no rules and no sense of honour.
Is it better to train aggression or cold calculation in Self-Defense?
This an interesting subject that comes up in various forms when discussing learning how to defend yourself. Do you simply learn how to pile in and aggressively attack your assailant or do you develop cold,calculating skills that help you clearly work your way out of trouble?
The reason this comes up often is because you can have different schools or styles that argue for both cases. On the one hand it is argued that once the adrenalin rush hits you, you shouldn’t fight that, but use it to drive an aggressive counter attack until you are safe. The other argument would be for staying as cool as possible so that you are aware of all the options available and you then act accordingly.
Different schools of thought
For instance, this quote from How to Drive a Tank goes for the GLF theory ( go like fuck )of winning a violent confrontation. Basically meaning that as soon as trouble arrives you hammer your opponent until he is no longer a threat.
“Real fighting is like the blitzkrieg (lightning war) tactics used in the Second World War or the ‘shock and awe’ tactics of today. As Mick says, ‘Pound the living fuck out of them with everything you can rather than have that standoff stalemate, pointing guns at each other for years.’
This of course has it’s advantages but could be flawed if it doesn’t work. If you tire quickly and your assailant has some “friends” that you weren’t aware of, you could be in serious trouble. You could also be in trouble if you weren’t aware that he was carrying a weapon as you went in Gung-Ho! It could also be a problem if your attacker preserves energy and you blow out. Then what?