Self-Defense is Situational

     The idea for this post began germinating in my brain a couple of weeks ago, when I was in the store to spend my birthday money and found an article about self-defense positions. Taekwondo is my base style although we add lots of Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and cane techniques into our system.

     I expected to see some realistic self-defense but found an article about using spinning kicks to ward off an attacker. Less than 1 percent of the population can probably use a spinning kick with any degree of success in a self-defense situation. I really hope readers aren’t deluded into thinking they could spinning back kick an attacker into a heap on the sidewalk.


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     Despite the claims of many instructors that their martial arts system is the best in handling any situation, the tactics that you use to successfully repel a street attack depend much more on the circumstances that you find yourself in and less on the techniques that you use.

     You may be a great grappler but if you are confronted by two street thugs, like Renzo Gracie was last year, it is best to stay on your feet, where you can keep your eyes on both guys.

     Mr. Gracie, a phenomenal grappler, dispatched one of the muggers with a couple of punches and the other guy decided it was time to get out of Dodge. Had he taken the first guy to the ground and tried to choke him out, which he was quite capable of doing, he would have been vulnerable to being kicked or stomped by the accomplice.


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     The goal of any street self-defense is to get away with as little injury as possible. If you are a striker and you have never been on the ground, you had better learn some ground self-defense. If you are a grappler and have never been hit in the face, have your training partner put on some big boxing gloves and let him or her try to strike you. We also teach the cane because you may not want to do either.

     Traditional martial arts often get a bad name because they teach “unrealistic” techniques. Actually, at the time they were created, the martial art probably served its function well. However, so many arts get bogged down by trying to venerate the memory of the creator that it does not evolved and gets locked into archaic ways of doing things. All martial arts should be adapted to the current conditions not be bogged down in “how we have always done it”.

     I have been in private security in St. Louis, MO for over twenty years and have had several opportunities to see what works and what does not work in two armed encounters, a number of street assaults and two riots. I used different tactics in each one but as someone who has done Taekwondo for 14 years, I never executed one spinning kick.

     The best street self-defense is to avoid confrontations entirely. Do not shop late at night. If you do shop late at night, go out in large groups and park under the parking lot lights. Criminals are like cockroaches. They hate the light. Don’t flash money around. STAY OUT OF BARS. And save the spin kicks for sparring.

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