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What is reality-based self-defence?

Nearly every martial art uses the term self-defence when describing the benefits of that art, whether it’s Taekwondo, Karate, Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, JuJutsu or any other martial art. At Taijutsu Kai, self-defence is a core aspect of our art and is the framework of our syllabus. We use the term “reality-based self-defence”, but what exactly does that mean?

Reality-based self-defence is the task of taking an honest look at what happens in public altercations then training a system towards what is LIKELY to happen, not what we WANT to happen. Taking into consideration aspects that are often overlooked, such as clothing, space, type of attacks, obstacles, human behaviour, numerous attackers, surroundings and trends in crime.

By gathering and analysing data from law-enforcements and listening to first-hand experiences from people on the front line. We can establish the most common attacks, dangerous scenarios and what can go wrong. TJK takes this data and combines it with the high-level knowledge of Instructors to create a syllabus of effective techniques that work well in a multitude of scenarios. We aim to teach our students a range of principles such as spatial awareness, danger recognition, alternatives to fighting and ultimately, simple but effective self-defence techniques, that can be used any time, any place when needed.

Self-awareness before Self-defence

It is important to recognise that a student of martial arts has numerous opportunities to mitigate danger before using Jujutsu techniques. By keeping a few simple concepts in mind when in public a student can increase their odds of staying safe and reducing the chances of coming into danger.

Many important ‘signals’ take place before a person is in a position where they must defend themselves. A rounded approach to personal safety considers the ability to detect and defuse dangers. This could be a simple decision to not visit certain known high crime locations at certain times… sounds like ‘common sense’ but you will be surprised how many people make poor choices in this area. Another example could be taking a taxi home after a night out, instead of walking… this may be the best £15 you have ever spent.

The ability to defuse a situation is also a valuable tool to have. If the situation is upon us, we need to make effective use of our body language and choice speech. If someone is talking to us, there is a chance that you can negotiate a way out of the confrontation without any violence being used by either party.

An area that is often neglected is the role that our ‘egos’ play in decision making when making choices with respect to our personal safety. Many a confrontation has been escalated because a person (and this applies to martial artists) have the inability to ‘defuse’ their own anger and desire to be right. Never a good personal safety decision will be made when we let your ‘ego’ take the driving seat.

Understanding the reality of Self-defence

At our recent seminar, we invited students to train self-defence in their day to day clothes, including jeans, shirts, shoes and jackets. We also took away the false environment of safety mats and trained techniques on the hard floor, similar to a real-life situation.

Students quickly realised that the range of movement is compromised when wearing jackets and jeans. A perfect roundhouse kick to the head becomes near impossible when in work boots and jeans. Punches also become much more restricted and different techniques need to be used that work with limited movement. The hard floor establishes quickly that techniques that feel fine on the mats can be devastating on concrete. The dangers are not just increased for an attacker, but the student must also be aware of the dangers to themselves. If a student over commits to a technique and lands heavy on their knee it could have a disastrous consequence to themselves.

Clothing can also be used as a weapon both for the attacker and the defender, ties, scarfs, necklaces and bags with straps can be quickly used to strangle someone with profound effect. Coats, jackets and hoodies can be used for grips, chokes and disorientating someone.

If all else fails

“It is better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war.”

When everything else has failed, you’ve been caught off guard, you have someone to protect, or the attacker will not back down. You may have to engage and use your self-defence skills to keep yourself and others safe.

The photos we can see a demonstration of an altercation as it builds. Working from left to right we see an attempt to defuse someone who is in agitated and/or angry state. By using calming hands the ‘defender’ is working from a strong moral & legal framework. From this position, the ‘defender’ operates behind an effective and versatile barrier. At any stage, this position can be deployed in a proactive manner or will react instinctively if an attack is launched. As the photos progress, we see that an attack has taken place… in a street attack, a common attack will be that of a haymaker punch. What we see in the middle photo is a failed punch that now turns into a bear hug/grab situation. You can see the robust nature of the barrier against such attacks. The last photo shows an elbow strike that allows the ‘defender’ to exit to safety.

In the next 2 pictures we see a multiple assailant situation. The picture on the left shows the complexity of facing 3 opponents at once. A good outcome for the ‘defender’ in this position is unlikely… there are too many variables to deal with in an effective manner. What we see in picture 2 is the ‘defender’ moving out to the left-hand side… by doing this he narrows the channel through which he can be attacked. The key here is to get 3 heads in a row which will mean that any attack will be from a single person. The best way of dealing with multiple attackers is to deal with 1 at a time, as stated by Coach T Blauer.

Expect the unexpected

Not every encounter happens standing up and in a nice 9m by 9m square of open space. In the pictures below Sensei Ross in demonstrating a scenario that happened to one of his students parents. The parent was sat behind their desk at work when an aggravated member of the public leant across the table and grabbed them by the neck. Have you ever been in a situation at work when you’ve felt threatened by a customer? How often have you trained this scenario in your martial art? It is a common attack and a common scenario but very rarely trained or even discussed. Sensei Ross is demonstrating how two of our white belt techniques can be quickly adapted to the situation and even improved with the use of the table.

By having these discussions, training in our casual wear and taking away the falseness of the dojo and training mats we get a real sense of what an altercation in public might feel like. Which helps our students be better prepared, not just with techniques, but with handling the adrenaline rush, understanding their surroundings and more.

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Taijutsu Kai seminar where children of all ages trained realistic, reality based self-defence in every day clothes.
Added 17 Jan 20
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