Ask any martial artist if what they do is realistic self defense, and the most common answer will be something along the lines of “Yes, of course. Why would I do it if it weren’t?” But the honest truth is that a lot of martial artists are not equipped to defend themselves in a real world scenario. So where is the disconnect between Kwoon Self Defense and the Real World ? Why are so many people practicing ineffectual martial arts? And what does a truly effective martial art look like?
The Disconnect in Kwoon Self Defense and the Real World
When people try and understand why the martial arts have drifted away from effective training methods there are a few factors to consider. Primarily the difficulty of taking an individual and training them to be able to defend themselves in any scenario is no easy feat. There is no conceivable way for an individual to practice every possible scenario. So what do we do? We have to train our instincts and expand our knowledge base, to prepare ourselves for any given scenario though we may not have practiced for it. Another problem lies in an instructors innate desire to gain and keep students. Sometimes this desire may lead schools to adapt an easier, less effective curriculum in order to keep students entertained and engaged. When this happens it can be easy to fall into a lull of safety and easy money, perpetuating a sense of accomplishment.
The biggest danger comes when the student, having done exceptionally well in class, is now faced with a real world scenario that they are not prepared to deal with. The student enters into this scenario with a false sense of confidence and may end up making things worse. We find another difficulty in lack of experienced instructors. Though the instructor may have plenty of martial arts experience, they are completely inept when it comes to real world fighting experience. And how is someone with no experience expected to give a complete curriculum to their students? This is the main question when comparing Kwoon Self Defense and the Real World.
Ineffective vs. Effective Martial Arts
Let me be clear, no martial art is in and of itself ineffective, the effectiveness lies within how we train that martial art. Drills in the martial arts can be effective tools at making certain techniques ingrained in the student’s mind and muscle memory; however, many drills isolate a certain skill with the intention of honing that skill while we ignore other skills.
Major problems occur when teachers fail to integrate those isolated skill together. Take for example point sparring. Many martial arts accept point sparring as a means of being able to practice all of one’s martial skills. But what if the fight goes to the ground? Or the opponent doesn’t back off after you score a point? Point sparring can be an effective training tool, but it is important to accept that it does not simulate a real fight.
In an effective school of martial arts, there must be a comprehensive curriculum. One that teaches not only good techniques, but also when, where, and how to use them. It is important for a student to be able to deescalate a fight before it starts, and only consider fighting as a last resort. An effective martial art will teach all aspects of self defense: technique, execution, timing, and distancing. They must also teach determination. Students must drill regardless of whether or not they get bored. In modern martial arts there seems to be a dangerous trend of catering to what the student wants. But if we were really doing what was best for the student, wouldn’t it be catering to what they need instead of what they want?