Some martial artists believe that in order to really learn to defend yourself, you have to practice full contact fighting. They maintain that it’s an essential part of the physical conditioning needed for self-defense and that by being hit, you learn what it feels like and will be better able to cope with it in a real life fight. I disagree.
There was a time in my past when I was hit hard, on more than one occasion. Fortunately I was never hit in the head so was never knocked unconscious. But I have been hit for real and I know what it feels like. I don’t need to practice full contact fighting to know that at best, being hit hurts like heck and will affect my ability to defend myself. At worst, it may knock me out or even kill me if I am really unlucky. Not long ago, a New Zealand security guard was punched in the head and killed. This shows how deadly just one punch can be.
I also know that the last place I want to be is in a stand up fight with anyone, particularly if that person is bigger and stronger than me. As a relatively small woman, that makes up a lot of the population! I might have a number of physical self-defense skills in my toolkit, but all it can take is one good punch to the head and its curtains for me.
The true art of self-defense is not learning how to fight. No matter how skilled you are as a martial artist, a real life fight is always going to be unpredictable and there is a real possibility that you will get seriously hurt. Self-defense is about never needing to fight or only using your self-defense skills as an absolute last resort.
Self-defense is about being well prepared. What we do in our everyday lives has a major influence on whether we will ever need to physically defend ourselves. True self-defense starts with:
Self-defense is also about physical conditioning. However, we don’t need to practice full contact fighting to condition our bodies. Our martial art of Kuk Sool Won™ physically conditions us in many ways; through the practice of forms, kicks, falling techniques, weapons training, and self-defense techniques. No or minimal contact sparring also conditions the body and improves our speed and reflexes, without the need to be physically hurt. These are all an important part of developing our body and mind to react in the best possible way if we are ever faced with a physical confrontation
There may be times when we have no choice but to physically defend ourselves. I hope that situation never arises but if it does, my focus will be on using my martial arts training to get away from the situation as quickly as possible and hopefully, physically and psychologically unharmed. However, using my martial arts skills is the last resort in my self-defense toolkit. I hope I never have to use them.
JKN Jane Hurst
First degree black belt and school owner
Kuk Sool Won™ of Onewhero
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Caroline is a 5th degree black belt and Jane is a 2nd degree black belt in the traditional Korean martial art of Kuk Sool Won™ . They run 2 Kuk Sool Won™ martial arts schools in New Zealand.