Self-defence, or more accurately Personal-Protection, is a discipline like no other. As I stated many times before in other articles; it is very different than martial arts. It is both simpler and deeper. There is no metaphysical basis, no inner chi or secret death touch methods to make you into a super human being. There is only hard work, research and the need to understand the darkest side of human behaviour.
If you are learning personal-protection from a reputable instructor he will be able to teach you about the dynamics of real violence and human predation on other humans. If your instructor is teaching you a martial discipline and tradition that is very different than teaching personal protection; it is incredibly valuable and a treasure that has probably been around for hundreds, even thousands of years, however it is not personal-protection, at best it has transferable skills, at worst it will hamper your ability to protect yourself.
Many of those who truly understand the realities of violence will tell you that most traditional martial arts not only don’t prepare you for the arena of real violence, they actually hinder your ability to deal with an assault by a committed attacker. The reasons for this are many, from martial arts overloading the mind with choices of response, to the fact that the dojo creates a false environment that is completely alien to the real world.
Predators try to set you up in ways that allow them to attack without warning, in other words they want to either ambush you and overwhelm you with violence or they want to make demands of you from a position of total advantage. Martial arts teaches you how to fight with a training partner, personal-protection training tries to train you to avoid, de-escalate, or act first when it comes to violence. In other words someone using a personal-protection mindset will avoid, get out of a situation or do their damndest to ambush their ambusher if no other choice is made.
They will not have any illusions of fair play and will understand the horrors of real violence and have one goal, make a way to escape as safely as possible. Part of the skillsets and knowledge that come with this are very dark, and yet very liberating to know.
However as a responsible instructor besides the obvious physical cost of putting your body on the line to have people strike you, throw you and lock your joints so they can learn their physical techniques. This cost comes from the responsibility personal –protection coaches have to their students to present the most realistic information possible.
A good personal-protection coach will research and try to understand how predators choose and look for victims. He or she will try to know the nuances of social violence and family violence and may have to “counsel” students who have come to them because they want to take back the power that has been taken from them.
Personally I have dealt with many situations like that. As a trained life skills coach and operant effectual counsellor I have had to work with street youth, people dealing with addictions, clients who come through the legal system and are getting back to society. I have dealt with a lot of behaviours and have a very good understanding of the trauma that causes both social violence and human to human predation.
I have seen this behaviour both from my professional life as well as in my own personal life. Also doing event security and being in the wrong place at the wrong time has put me in the middle of a fair bit of social violence. This kind of thing changes your outlook and can leave a stain on you, but it opens your eyes to the real world instead of living under what I call the rose coloured blanket most people live under, pulling their head under and hoping the bad man never comes their way.
Beyond this experience I am constantly researching and training myself to be as good as possible in this endeavor; I am constantly reading books by professionals who are frontline in violent jobs and managing to get some training with some of the best personal-protection instructors around. I watch every video I can find that shows real violence and assaults.
I have watched some of the most horrific things that you can find in this quest to make sure I don’t give false securities to the people who come to me to learn these skills. This is more than a hobby or a job; it is a mission I have embraced. However this knowledge does have a price and having the knowledge I have does make a bit of a stain on me. You can’t stare too long into the void and not have it stare back into you.
However the price of this shadow on my heart and soul is very well balanced by the empowerment I feel knowing I am a little more prepared to combat the darkness I hate than I was years ago. I love the fact that I am a more proficient protector and warrior than I was a few years ago, and I am always striving to improve.
Most importantly though I love seeing the confidence and warrior edge I can instill in people. I love seeing people become passionate about learning this. Making my students lives a little better makes the darkness I have gone through to get here very worthwhile. I would not change anything if I could, I love living a warrior lifestyle and passing that on to others. It is my personal mission.
Joel Huncar teaches Eskrima, Muay Thai and children’s programs at Huncar’s Warrior Arts out of the Rocky Mountain Martial Arts Family Centre.