Stay Safe: Why Learning Self-Defense Isn’t Enough
“Stay safe” has become one of the most popular sentiments recently offered to friends and family alike. But how often do we consider exactly what that means?
Everyone wants to experience the comfort of knowing that they are doing everything they can to protect themselves and the ones they love. But how can we take action to ensure that is true? An obvious answer would be to take a self-defense class to learn some basic techniques. Most people would consider this is a great solution. Unfortunately, experts agree that a person who attends a single self-defense class is no more prepared to protect themselves against targeted violence than a person who has no training at all.
Surprised? Here’s how we think about it…
Self-Defense Is Reactive
Self-defense is used in response to an unprovoked attack. This means that, by definition, self-defense is reactionary. Unfortunately, reacting appropriately to an attack isn’t as easy as the movies may portray. When a person feels threatened, fine motor skills are compromised and critical thinking is challenged due to a spike in adrenaline. It is extremely rare that a person will “rise to the occasion” and successfully ward off an attack with ease. What’s more likely, in fact, is that a person will default to the level of their training, especially under the influence of adrenaline stress. Often, the best self-defense moves are simple, fast, and easy to recall. Understandably, any self-defense techniques must be consistently practiced to be utilized successfully.
Comprehensive training is critical to being prepared to save a life. The American Heart Association requires at least four hours of CPR training in order to be considered certified to practice this life-saving activity successfully. Likewise, investing several hours a year in training how to properly defend yourself in the event of a violent attack is imperative.
A common misconception is that once you’ve successfully defended yourself and escaped the violent encounter, it’s over. However, it’s important to consider the legal, ethical, and moral implications of using self-defense. Because of this, understanding reasonable force and developing self-control through continuous training is absolutely critical.
Self-Protection Is Proactive
At Invictus Martial Arts, we educate our members on the importance of understanding the distinction between self-defense and self-protection. Unlike self-defense, an attack does not have to occur in order to practice self-protection, making it proactive. For example, we’ve all applied protective sunscreen before hitting the beach, right? Of course! There are ways to proactively stay safe before a threat of violence presents itself.
It all starts with informed awareness. Becoming more situationally aware is a great first step. Most of us have heard well-intending people advise us not to leave our drink unattended at a party or to always travel in (at least) pairs. We wholeheartedly agree! However, a person with violent intent isn’t limited to a stranger in a bar. Acts of violence can happen anytime, anywhere, and in any location. In fact, victims of violence are often attacked in a familiar place by someone they know. Yes, you read that correctly! Most victims KNOW their attacker. Learning to identify potentially violent behavior can also help you avoid becoming a target.
An Undefeated Mindset
Ultimately, staying safe starts with developing an undefeated mindset. We’ve all known someone who has passionately exclaimed, “if it ever came down to it, I would die for my child/spouse/family member/friend.” Perhaps you have even personally uttered this sentiment. Realistically, if you ever found yourself in a life-threatening situation with your loved one, making the decision to lay down your own life will not protect them. We’ve likely all heard our flight attendants remind us, “in the event that the cabin loses air pressure, place the oxygen mask on yourself before helping the person next to you”. You serve your loved ones best when you make the decision to protect yourself first.
Former Green Beret Sniper, Army Ranger, and Retired UFC Fighter, Tim Kennedy says, “Every time you train, train with the motivation and purpose that you will be the hardest person someone ever tries to kill.” Coupling self-protection strategies with consistent self-defense training helps develop an undefeated mindset making you feel prepared, confident, and safe.
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