1.1 What exactly is self-defense?
This question may now surprise one or the other, because under the term self-defense, most of us can already imagine something, though many here probably think first of martial arts like Karate, Aikido, Tae Kwon Do and the like. In fact, in more or less all martial arts, self-defense is also touted as one of the goals, but the fact is that one has to clearly distinguish between martial arts, combat sports and self-defense.
This may sound confusing to the layman (and some martial artists) now, but it’s actually quite easy to explain. We just like to differentiate things according to the primary objective. Classic martial arts are based on techniques that have often been handed down over centuries and are rigid and dogmatic as a system. Thus, the maintenance of tradition and the honors of the founder usually take on a great place. A lot of emphasis is usually placed on details and the technically precise execution of movements and it therefore often takes years to master them. Although some of the techniques may be actually quite effective, the priorities mostly lie in the preservation of traditions, the applicability for self-defense is usually secondary, often even questionable, since, for example, when defense techniques are taught with or against weapons that were once found in feudal Japan, but have no real reference to reality today. As a rule, it takes months, often years, to successfully apply these martial arts in a real defense situation, if at all.
Combat sports on the other hand, are precisely that, a sport! Although combat sports have mostly evolved from traditional martial arts, techniques have been removed or defused by variation to protect the athletes, and by adding rules and using protective equipment, further limits have been placed. Even in so-called mixed martial arts (MMA), you ultimately fight in a controlled environment with limited possibilities, regardless how tough that all looks.
But that now raises the question, what is Self-defense, if it’s neither martial arts nor combat sports? It has to be said that self-defense is, of course, closely related to martial arts, but is indeed a discipline in itself! However, in contrast to combat sports, where variations have been made to defuse the techniques to avoid injury, the goal here is to achieve the greatest effectiveness with minimal effort. We therefore dispense with traditions, techniques that no longer find realistic application and rules that limit one in the defense. The reality on the street looks very different from regular martial arts training, there are no rules, no weight classes and no judges who will break off a fight when you go to the ground and can no longer defend yourself.
For brutal attacks by multiple attackers who continue to kick you when you lie ground or attacks with knives, bottles, baseball bats or other weapons, you are not being prepared in combat sports.
There is a saying in the martial arts world that is being quoted quite often ” YOU FIGHT LIKE YOU TRAIN!” and how suitable that is here. Actually, you could also turn that around in terms of martial arts and combat sports and say what you don’t train, you also can’t apply when it matters! In martial arts, for example, it is forbidden to eye gauge, to bite, kick into the groins or punch the throat of the opponent, but these are actually some of the most effective self-defense techniques.
Likewise, flight is hardly an acceptable solution in combat sports, but in self-defense this is not only a tactical option, but is logically also one of the preferred solutions of a potential conflict! In summary, therefore, effective self-defense is a completely different discipline than martial arts and combat sports and also needs to be trained quite different, namely, as close to reality as possible!