I have had the honor and pleasure to have trained with several outstanding teachers in Taekwondo, Aikido and Gumdo. One of them, Sensei Frank Guldbrandsen (Northern Lights Aikido -UMD), had stated during a class that he felt people learned in three stages – physically, intellectually, spiritually.

I lead with this because I think that people get stuck in the physical aspects of self defense. They focus on techniques to defend themselves against attacks of all kinds. Yes, I believe that this training needs to be done but I don’t think that it should be the only focus.

Traditional martial arts that feature learning patterns/forms present the opportunity to make the training “your own”. You figure out the best way to move your body and how you can best apply the techniques within the form. This is illustrated when you hear someone described as a “smart fighter” (think boxing’s Sugar Ray Leonard).

But this shouldn’t be the limitation of applying techniques. Seidokan Aikido founder, Shihan Roderick Kobayashi, spent his life presenting the application of Aikido principles in daily life. Basically, if you couldn’t take what you learned on the mat and use it everyday in everything you do, you didn’t learn it correctly.

This is where I think more people need to move toward in their perception of what self defense is. Things like knowing “where you are”, “what’s happening around you” and “what your options are” are all mentioned as part of self defense courses but only the obvious examples are given.

Self defense is also…
knowing how many cars are on the exit/entry ramp coming toward you.
knowing where people are are you when at the mall.
knowing where the exits are at the club.

I guess that the point I’m trying to make is that having to defend yourself with physical should be the last resort. You can use your intelligence and knowledge to “prevent” most of the situations beforehand.

Author: Master Robert Frankovich

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