For many the mental image of effective personal defence is that of men in crisp white suits with black belts, effortlessly casting aside their would be assailants. In many martial arts schools, personal defence is taught as an add on to the teaching syllabus. I've personally been in sessions where the instructor has informed us that, "Tonight's class will be self defence..." and then proceeded to spend the next hour demonstrating a variety of joint locks and releases, which outside of the compliant safe setting of the class would be of no real benefit. The point to recognise is that effective personal defence is simple and far from being an array of flowery physical techniques, it's a psychological mind-set and understanding.
So what is personal defence and what does it take to achieve this?
Primarily the best defence in all things awareness and avoidance. Understanding the potential of a situation, naturally assessing the risks and being able to take action appropriately is fundamental to any personal defence programme. Just simply understanding how to evaluate a potentially dangerous situation provides the opportunity to decide whether you become a victim. The resulting growth in personal self confidence that this provides can itself become a fundamental asset in minimising the risk to oneself. This is often referred to in contemporary self protection as "target hardening".
The evaluation of scenarios, a simple strategy for personal awareness and understanding the strategy and methods of would be attackers (dialogue, distraction and deception) are fundamentals within our approach to personal defence. To always have the capability to understand, avoid or (in the worst case) exit the situation is the at the root of our personal defence philosophy. Everything we teach stems from and returns to this most fundamental point. We spend time improving confidence through understanding, culturing a growth of a practical cognitive strategy designed to assess and cope with any potential dangerous situation. The stronger we can make ourselves mentally the better able we are to manage our behaviour and reduce the chances of becoming a victim of personal assault.
The next step in a our personal defence programme is to understand the fear/stress response and how it affects our body. In a safe, class environment often students can be mislead by less than honest instructors into believing that what they are learning is 100% effective. Complicated physical techniques are practically useless, when in reality the mind is clouded with a massive dump of adrenaline, creating a multitude of internal physical responses within your body. Often referred to as a fight or flight response, our natural disposition towards stress (created by the huge increase of adrenaline present within our bodies) is the determining factor in the manner, content and overall development of our own personal strategy. A catch all strategy of personal defence, that seeks to meet the needs of all can never exist. We are all intrinsically different in our responses to stress, some will freeze in situations where others will become verbally or physically motivated. To anticipate the same response in all people is a very limited view.
Our approach to personal defence is then to allow the practice and repeated rehearsal of some core fundamental verbal, non-physical and physical techniques. Simplistic in their form, through continued rehearsal and controlled "pressure testing" we can begin to allow the investigation of how, as individuals, we perform under stress. This provides each individual with opportunity to investigate what best works for themselves and again cultures a growth in self confidence regarding the application of this knowledge. It is worthy of note here that verbal and non-physical strategies for defence are just as important as the necessary physical knowledge. Equally it is as important that these are drilled and practiced to provide confidence in the application and delivery of these.
Finally, the fundamental physical aspect of our approach to personal defence is grounded and based within this principle of simplicity. We look at basic techniques and target selection to enable an effective physical response. Investigating responses from a variety of positions, such as standing, kneeling, sitting and lying, repeated rehearsal of physical techniques is undertaken to make these a programmed, almost unconscious response. Whilst no programme of personal defence can provide all the answers, we encourage students to investigate and practice physical techniques in all ranges (standing and grappling). Again, our philosophy here is to provide students opportunity to effectively control and exit the situation, not create a encyclopaedic knowledge of all potential positions and martial arts.
Our 4 week Personal Defence courses run throughout the year. Please message us to sign up for the next available course.