Thursday, May 27, 2010

What is Self - defense ?

Being a martial artist am often asked by  people that  how soon can they learn self - defense. For many self - defense is just learning some techniques or points on the body. Many feel they can fight like Bruce Lee in just a month or even lesser. Well they are WRONG.
So what exactly is self -defense?
The ability to defend or protect oneself at the moment we are attacked is called self - defense. In order to defend oneself we need to train our reflexes. The movements, techniques, combination's need to be practiced many many times. When repetitive practice is done the movements get set into our reflex. Once the movements are set into the reflex then when we are attacked our hands and legs move out of reflex so we don't need to think and waste valuable time. This process is slow and the time taking for setting the movements into our reflex varies from individual to individual. For a person who is pretty fit and is into any kind of sport it will be faster. To be pretty good with say a medium level of self defense ability it would take a person minimum 6 - 8 months of regular training. Self - defense does not only depend on reflexes it also needs a person to be alert, confident, fast, use common sense and keep the mind empty. A combination of all these factors will enable perfect defending ability. Lets look at each of the other factors in brief. One has to be ALERT - if you are attacked and you are not alert or aware of the attack there are good chances that you will succumb to injury and may not be able retaliate back. 
CONFIDENT- Most robbers, thief's and so on that may attack you while you are on the road do not expect you to attack back. They use fear psychosis to their advantage shattering us. With due course of training our confidence levels increase enabling us to be calm and composed. 
FAST - Element of surprise is always an added advantage. Most attackers don't expect you to reciprocate, so the slightest movement to attack him instantly could not only shock the attacker but he may run away too.
COMMON SENSE  - This is something which is generally very uncommon. Many with little training feel they can fight with 20 people like it is done in movies. No matter how well trained you are the best option is always to avoid a fight on the road unless that is your only option. It is very foolish for a person with little training to try and fight with a robber holding a knife when you don't have lots of money etc on you. 
EMPTY MIND - While we are on the road we are constantly keeping our mind occupied with thoughts of tasks to complete or fixing our schedule for the day and so on. Well if our mind is busy with this then how can it perceive an attacker moving towards us. Making us less alert, taking us by surprise thus slowing our reaction to the attack. 
So a well balanced combination of all these factors enable us to defend ourselves. Don't fall prey to people promising you with the ability to defend yourself in short courses like say a week or month. Yes in the stipulated time of the course you may learn all the techniques and combination's but on the road the instructor wont come to show you the technique nor will you have time to think. Most street fights last for a few seconds, it is these seconds that decide whether you become a victim or you foil the attack and counter attack. To be able to respond without having to think is why the training needs time. In my opinion the time is well spent for in the worst case scenario your training will decide whether you get away unhurt or get seriously injured. So please don't reject a trainer or instructor who tells you he cant give you a fast course of self - defense.   

Friday, May 21, 2010

Why Martial Arts can not be a sport?

Just yesterday one of my gekusai's (student) was discussing with me about how karate will benefit from being accepted in to the Olympics.
Well so that is what has made me decide to write this post to educate and inform people about the facts then decide. Karate may get more popular and recognized world wide after it enters Olympics but at the cost of losing its authenticity, its traditional training practices and so on.
Any fighting form is called Martial Arts. This is the oldest thing known to mankind. Even before man made languages he knew how to fight to defend and protect himself. Martial Arts specially the oriental ones are a way of life. In my honest opinion you cannot execute a punch or a kick properly and expect it not to hurt or injure. A martial artist spends years harnessing his skills, power, technique. If we just make all martial arts an Olympic sport am sure over a period of some years all the training that goes into making a martial artist tough will vanish. In today's day and age one of the main reasons why people take to martial art training is for self defense. Just imagine if all martial art schools teach sport sparring or kumite what will happen in a real life situation on the road. You are not going to get points or any protective gear like abdomen gaurds etc on the road. So the very purpose of martial arts is lost. In sport kumite it is basically about points about going in touching the opponent with the executed technique and coming out. Where as in full contact kumite both opponents have to be more cautious as the attack wont be just a touch but will be executed with power. This over a period of time and practice makes a martial artist more alert and faster with his reflexes improving his blocking abilities. I am not saying kumite should be about injury and pain but making it a sport kumite reduces the self defense aspect from the training. I have seen many sports martial artists their kumite styles are very defensive always guarding themselves in a way to save points. This makes these sports martial artists incapable of defending themselves on the street as for them fighting only means saving and getting points. Many of the schools that are into sports kumite dont even train their students in conditioning as in competitions they get complete protective gear. It is sad but have met a few black belts who have spent years training and have never taken a punch in the stomach or a kick on the thigh as they were never taught conditioning. Fortunately Boxing is the martial art that has retained its originality even after getting into the Olympics. Just imagine if a boxer gets disqualified because he knocked out his opponent or a penalty or warning for making his opponents nose bleed. How many people would train or follow boxing if this happened? I say less than half of those who are into Boxing today. Yes we do get injured at times training in Martial arts but if you will look into those injuries it is more our fault than that of the opponent. May be our technique was not properly executed or we blocked wrongly. So we just need to train better improve on our weaknesses and flaws and then the injuries wont be there even in full contact kumite.  At the end I would just like to request all the Sensei's (teachers) and gekusai's (students) of any martial art world wide to continue with the originality and authenticity of the training. Recognition is good but if it brings an end to what we are seeking to get recognized then the whole effort is futile.    

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Summer Camp 2010

We had a very amazing time at our summer training camp or Gashuku this summer. It is always a joy and pleasure to be with all of the Jukaado family. Am sure all of you from the Gashuku (camp) will agree to that. We had our training for five days close to a forest area far away from the pollution and noise of the city. Our daily routine or training sessions begin at 5am. After a good warm -up and some walking we go out for a good jog along the forests path. It was nice to see that the students have improved on their fitness levels. Daily we would jog about 15km. The second training session starts after breakfast at around 10:30am in this session training would focus on various aspects like makiwara (traditional punching and striking posts and bags), katas (set combination of basic movements in a sequence) , Kihon (basics), Kihon - ido (basic movements in motion), Kakie (pushing hands exercise) and Hojo undo (supplementary training). Then we would take a break for lunch and some rest till 5pm. During this break the highly energetic younger Gekusai's (students) would go about swimming or playing basketball, carrom, throw ball and so on while the others would just take a nap or read. At 5pm the training sessions would focus on grappling movements, Ukemi (break falls and rolls) , kote Waza (wrist locking techniques), Shime Waza (choke holds), Nage Waza (throwing techniques), Kansetsu Waza (Arm breaking techniques), Conditioning, kumite and self defense techniques. This session would continue till 8:30pm after which we would break for the day and after our dinner we would go to bed after an hour or so. This is just a brief of the daily training regime at the camp. We also had a midnight session on Sanchin Kata one of the days for the seniors only. Many first timers to the Gashuku seem to have been inspired and we all hope they train hard and wisely till they become Sensei's (teacher) someday. The training was hard and being as one big family it was fun too. Some have lost weight the others have decided to be fitter the next camp. We all have learnt a lot it is always a pleasure to be with people with the same liking or wavelength. Let us all make an effort to train better and lets hope we have more numbers of participants at the Gashuku every year.