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The Great Responsibility- Are You Training Victims and you don’t know it?

March 27, 2012


It is hard to believe the great responsibility that martial arts and self defence instructors have yet very few actually realise this. Since I have started this blog I have seen a tremendous response, both positive and negative.  I have been accused by some martial arts instructors as actually attacking martial artists and the fact they help people by giving them the skills to both “protect and enhance their lives!”

Well what do I have to say to these people? Simple.

I really don’t care about upsetting the martial artist who has developed an over confident ego based on years of dojo training. Its funny how although I haven’t been a Jeet Kune Do student for many years (I tried it and It didn’t suit my needs at the time) I have read a lot of different things about Bruce Lee and the art. I hear that there was a backlash about his teaching and ideas from the traditional martial artist. Sounds Familiar eh?

Now I wont compare myself to Bruce Lee or indeed even the scholars who were killed for saying the earth wasn’t at the centre of the universe all those years ago. However I have been amazed by the martial artists who seem to think they have the monopoly on their ability to teach a person to defend themselves against real violence. The modern martial artist needs to study not only the physical skills but be proficient in law, first aid, fitness, criminal behaviour, criminal trends and more to be a good self defence instructor. Fortunately we have had organisations such as the British Combat Association preaching these things for many years now. We live in a time like no other, we have footage of real violence available to analyse and view for free all across the internet. However how many instructors are looking at this footage and then asking themselves the simple question “Will my training work?”

Violence shatters lives, it destroys people and the lives for their families. A single incident can cause serious physical trauma, emotional distress and in some circumstances even death. Don’t believe me take a look at the below clip.

in this space I had linked a youtube clip that showed serious violence. Having thought about this clip in further detail I feel the clip is not required to showcase my views. It is in the public forum but having watched it several times I feel that not only should I not use it that indeed it should be removed from You Tube. I hope you enjoy the rest of the article.

My friend Jamie Clubb often talks about the need for individuality in training, in other words training the person with an individual approach based on their needs. Now this is hard but it was something that my friend and subject of an upcoming blog Georgi Georgiev did for me. He focused my Judo training based on my height and build, my strengths and weaknesses, yet many classes are just a syllabus. Sticking to the syllabus at all costs. If you ask the instructor for a more focused approach you may be offered a private lesson priced between £20- £100. This is not focused on the individual. It focuses on the art.

Now this is the point I ask people:

Why are you training? Again something which is heavily focused on by the Vagabond Warriors Seminar I have previously reviewed. If you are training to keep fit there are likely to be better ways. If you are training for personal growth or skill mastery that’s fine. If you are training to learn self defence then this is when you need to get serious. Self defence is a serious subject, yet I find it strange when instructors are not willing to turn the microscope onto themselves, and ask themselves to not just ask if this works in self defence, but will it work for the student they are training?

To further punctuate this, having been to numerous schools of martial arts throughout my life. No instructor, not one has asked me what my own goals were and how they will help me get to this point.All our students may have been or could yet be victims of violent crime, it may not be the same violent crimes you have been victim to. It may be rape, gang rape, domestic violence, bullying, gang abuse, verbal abuse, threats, intimidation and much more. Are the techniques you teach designed to work for them in the situations they could face? Will it work for their build and body shape? Or are you guilty of just accepting the students money and going though the motions?

I have another guest blog from a person who contacted me but wishes to remain anonymous. Their post is most inspiring and educational. I ask you, how well do you know your students? You have a huge responsibility as an instructor. Your training encourages and develops people in so many ways. All I suggest is that you ask yourselves this question:

Will the skills that I teach actually work and meet my students needs and how do I know this?”

As I keep saying we need to use martial arts as a tool box to draw from, they are not the answer to violence. Violence will provide the answers we need.  Here is the guest article:

A little background…

I had a wonderful childhood, I was spoilt and sheltered. I had always had a rose tinted spectacle view of the world. People were generally nice, bad things happened to other people.

How wrong can you be?

When I was 17 I was raped by a ‘friend’ who had been experimenting with cocaine. I had never been hit before and the shock and fear left me paralysed. I had been blind to the dangers and naïve enough to think I could handle myself in any situation.

I am not proud but I made a decision to find a guy who could look after me. I quickly started dating a guy who was well connected, aggressive and took no messing from anyone. At first things were great, I thought I was safe. Then, at three months pregnant, he hit me. I’d refused to go for a night out. He was full of apologies the next day and I fell for it. Being hit then became an infrequent occurrence throughout my pregnancy. Soon after the birth of my son, it became a regular thing. I was treading on egg shells, never knowing what would set him off. There were too many excuses, drink, drugs, the football result… The list was endless.

I lost a lot of friends as I wasn’t allowed to see them or I was too bruised. My family stayed away, they knew the score but only came when things were too much and I had to call for help. I’d made my bed and all that and we had a child so I tried everything to make it work. I began to suffer with depression, and I hated my life.

I never went to the police and I often wonder if that would have made a difference. I saw friends in similar situations who contacted the police but if you’re not strong enough to leave, who does it help?

The turnaround…

I decided to make changes, starting with some part time work. I started making friends and my husband had to be more careful about where the bruises were. I felt better. I wasn’t such a bad person. I made the decision to leave when my husband was away and I did it! We had some initial teething problems, I was stalked, and still got abused when I took my son to visit his father but, slowly, things got right.

And now?

Writing this has dredged up a lot of bad memories, it is uncomfortable. There are still places I won’t go, things I won’t do, but that’s common sense and awareness. I still feel guilt and shame, I doubt that will ever go, but I can control it now and things are certainly better.

I took up martial arts, recommended by a friend. I’ve learnt a lot about myself and what made me tick. I do a little teaching and have made some amazing friends.

My hope in writing this is that people really think about self-defence, about their own and what they teach others. I’ve done various self-defence courses but most lack some of the vital components, for me at least.

I am choosing not to give my name. I wouldn’t want people’s opinions of me to change and I am not the same person I was.

Take care and stay safe  🙂

Thanks for sharing, I challenge the instructors and readers of this blog not to upset and criticise but to help enhance and deliver a better product to the public. Self defence is an important subject. Take it seriously.

Keep safe.

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  1. I am in a somewhat unique position since generally the few people I teach are close friends (or they become close friends) and I teach privately to semi-privately. I never gave a lot of thought to individuality in training (many many other things, but not that). Perhaps part of this is because I know the few people I train very well (I know they all want to learn for self defense first, and a love for martial arts second), and I’m sure part of it is also because such a philosophy isn’t the norm in the broad majority of schools.

    I am curious, though. How would you suggest someone with a “regular sized” class incorporate this into their curriculum while still teaching their art?

    • Sorry for the late rely, I am the process of changing the site over to its new home which is taking a lot of time along with the sales and customer service of my new dvd.

      In answer to your question I have an unusual response.

      My personal martial arts started with boxing, and later Vale Tudo, Submission Grappling and Judo. Only Judo has a particular curriculum but even then it is very much down to the individual to learn it. In class they get their own chance to perfect their chosen techniques for gradings etc.

      In boxing etc. there is no “class” style training. Often equipment drill are the way things are done such as warm up, shadow boxing, bag work, sparring and pad work. Judo follows a similar pattern but without the use of equipment and instead using partners. I was never into the ‘stand in a line’ and punch training. I found it too static and not alive enough for me, although it does have its place. My personal type and style of training is very much in line with the boxing type.

      For example to run a class I would start with a warm up, followed by drills. I would try and partner those people up at first who are just learning then swap them around with better grades or skilled people to get them to learn from the better players. I would go around the class and coach as this was done.

      I would follow up this with bag work, pad work and sparring both technique based and full sparring. At the end I would run a exercise programme. Equipment can be costly but there are ways around this (make your own), however it is essential for a great striking programme, but of course not required for the grappling side.

      Hope this helps.

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