Gentle, Sweet and Mild? You Still Need a Martial Art

Outside the school gym, two men sat idly on a bench, waiting for Tai Chi class to begin. “If anyone were to attack me,” the first student offered, “I would simply run away, living to fight another day.”

A faint smile crossed his companion’s face, as both continued to enjoy the summer sunset. Allowing a respectful pause, the second man finally replied: “And how fast can you run?”

While it is true that a fight requires two consenting parties, a brutal beating does not. There are times when strategic retreat is not an option. We all know that martial arts experience is valuable in such times, for everyone.

But did you know that martial arts training offers special benefits for the kind and gentle? Continue reading Gentle, Sweet and Mild? You Still Need a Martial Art

Five Personal Protection Facts They Don’t Want You to Know

Imi Lichtenfeld
Imi Lichtenfeld
Founder of Krav Maga
  • In reality, there is no worst-case “real world” scenario to train against; there are only circumstances. By applying the same techniques in every unique situation, you will create more problems then you solve.
  • Want to live a long and healthy life? Eat your veggies, exercise regularly, drink in moderation and avoid smoking altogether. These habits are more important than anything you will learn in a personal protection workshop.
  • A calm mind and steady heart are required to apply martial arts training under duress. These traits can be demonstrated, but they cannot be taught.
  • The level of expertise required to stop a sneak attack is much higher than the level required to launch one. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a sneak defense.
  • Self-defense skills can only help you in the present. They cannot change the past.

The Worst Karate Move I Ever Learned (and How to Fix It)

Two underappreciated facts about self-defense:

  1. The time for avoidance is before the fight starts. Once it has started, you should abandon any notions of yielding or appeasement, and focus on not losing the fight. To honor this distinction, you must be able to recognize the seeds of violence before they sprout.
  2. Statistically speaking, your probable attacker does not care about you. It’s nothing personal, really. If someone else had walked into the wrong place at the wrong time, they would have been assaulted instead.

No martial arts training should be required to appreciate these points, which can be derived from basic human empathy. The worst Karate move I ever learned, however, flagrantly disregards both of them. Before examining that inferior technique—and a superior alternative—let’s briefly consider the context in which it is taught. Continue reading The Worst Karate Move I Ever Learned (and How to Fix It)

COPS: Karate Assault


10:41 PM. Responding to an assault call, Officer Tim Hoffman takes statements from the two parties involved.

John’s story: “I just came down here to relax, man. So I was sitting at the bar, and I heard this man and woman arguing over there in the corner. I could see the situation was getting out of hand, so I walked over there, and calmly suggested they should lay off. The guy just blows up, gets in my face, starts swearing and threatening me. I knew I’d have to defend myself, right? I got into a defensive stance. Continue reading COPS: Karate Assault

Robbie Lawler’s Ruthless Wing Chun

EliteXC Saturday Night Fights
EliteXC Primetime, headlined by Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano

I’ve always known that, sooner or later, the Chinese art of Wing Chun Kuen would be represented in a professional mixed martial arts bout. I just didn’t expect to see it in MMA’s historic prime-time debut.

Robbie Lawler
Robbie Lawler

On May 31, 2008, “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler forever settled any reasonable doubts about Wing Chun’s viability in real combat. And he did it by accident. Continue reading Robbie Lawler’s Ruthless Wing Chun

Defend Yourself the Taoist Way

Pick up an issue of Black Belt or Inside Kung Fu magazine. Watch a self-defense DVD. Browse a martial arts website. If you had to write captions under each picture, what would they say?

Black Belt Magazine

My hands are deadly weapons.
I am nobody’s victim.
Don’t mess with me, or you’ll regret it.

These poses remind your would-be attacker what they stand to lose. And sure, they are intimidating, to a degree.

The problem is, your attacker doesn’t harbor any intention of losing, and so the potential downside may just be disregarded. Continue reading Defend Yourself the Taoist Way

How to Stay Safe While Practicing at the Park

I prefer not to play Tai Chi at home. Each of the Five Directions holds an unwelcome distraction. Look left: unpaid bills. Gaze right: a pile of laundry. Whenever possible, I head to a local park instead, where the sunshine, fresh air, and vibrancy of nature provide a pleasant environment for practice.

I have practiced outside daily for years, and I would recommend it to anyone, with one caveat: you need to know how to handle your audience. Here are a few tips to keep you safe and out of trouble. Continue reading How to Stay Safe While Practicing at the Park

Emotional Mastery and Self-Defense

Effective self-defense requires a chain of complementary skills: awareness, discernment, agility, and so on.  This chain, like any other, is only as strong as its weakest link.  Many practitioners of martial arts concentrate on strengthening one end of the chain—the tactics of physical attack and defense—and give only cursory attention to other important links.

Emotional mastery is one such underappreciated skill.  Continue reading Emotional Mastery and Self-Defense