May 2018

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There are a great many myths out there regarding the subject of self defense. Among those myths, we see a range of poor advice that really misleads people. Such advice can include everything from the notion you need to be an ultimate fighter to defend yourself or the belief you need to develop mystical ancient prowess or the ill advised advice you should carry deadly weapons with you at all times. Again, these myths are just that – myths. While it certainly does not hurt to have a lot of training in a variety of spears of martial arts, self defense is often best served by learning a few high percentage basic self defense moves.

Such personal protection self defense moves are not flashy or spectacular. Rather, they are simple, straight forward, and to the point. Most importantly, they need to be applied by anyone regardless of age, height, or weight against a much more aggressive and larger opponent. Can this be done? Not only can it be done, it has been done.

One of the most stirring accounts that points out this fact is found in the tale of an 8 year old boy who successfully protected his 4 year old sister from being abducted. In May of 2010, a man attempted to abduct Josie Kuhns, while the family was on vacation. Her older brother, Nathan, (Again, “older” in this scenario is 8 years old) came to her rescue. As an unidentified man tried to pull her into his car, Nathan ran up to the man and started kicking and scratching him. Stunned at the response, the abductor let go of Josie and drove off in his car.

The only personal protection techniques Nathan used to defend his sister were kicking, scratching, and taking the fight to the assailant. Again, basic self defense moves are often the key to extricating yourself from a serious situation.

This incident also explains a few very important facts about self defense: predators prey on those that are weaker, predators do not want to get caught, and simple basic self defense moves can cause an attacker to flee. Again, an 8 year old child stopped a predator by simply scratching and kicking at him.

Now, no one is making the suggestion that it is easy to diffuse a serious predatory attack. Such incidents are extremely dangerous and stressful. However, in order to provide a successful and appropriate response, you will need a few basic self defense moves that can offer adequate protection when things get rough.

The basic self defense moves are not complicated or flashy. They are moves designed to work well under stress and pulled off in a simple and effective manner. The common self defense techniques that are highly effective would be a series of open hand attacks. Slapping, palm hand strikes, scratching, and eye pokes are fairly easy to perform. They are simple and direct and place you at very little risk for breaking or injuring your hand. (Closed fist strikes lead to broken hands due to the compression of the knuckles when the hand is not wrapped and placed in a glove) For those looking to knock out an opponent, the ‘heavy tools’ of knees, elbows, and head butts can be brutal tools that can deliver overwhelming force. (Please note: only use the appropriate level of force to handle a specific situation. Excess force that exceeds self defense can be considered assault) While these tools require a little additional training to make effective, the amount of time required to make them effective is not long as you would initially be led to believe.

This is not to say you never have to practice the material. A few short practice sessions a week would certainly aid in boosting skills in the delivery of the basic self defense moves. You do want to develop some proficiency in the delivery of the moves in a practice session. This way, you can be more confident that you can provide an effective response if a serious situation develops.

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A large portion of my income comes from conducting seminars and it has been for over 10 years. For me conducting seminars is a love/hate kind of thing. It is primarily a “love” kind of thing in that I love the teaching, I love meeting the people, I enjoy the travel, but hands down the number one reason is that I truly feel I’m helping people. Where the “hate” aspect comes in is the perception a lot of other people have of what I do, or perhaps even more the perception that most people have of my industry. Most of the seminars I do are self-defense seminars and when people find out what I do for a living they automatically mentally lump me in with a large portion of the industry that isn’t focused on helping people and brush me off with a platitude.

Over the 25 plus years I have been in the martial arts I have found that the industry of self-defense seminars isn’t fully respected by either martial artists or by the general public. The reason for this is that self-defense seminars have been around forever and most people have had a mediocre to poor experience with them. When I ask people about their experience with them what I hear over and over is that they’re too expensive, they’re too cheap so they can’t be any good, they’re too short and you can’t learn anything in an hour or so, the instructor wasn’t competent (they either weren’t knowledgeable, didn’t answer their questions, or they couldn’t preform what they taught and made themselves look bad), and by far the most common complaint is that they didn’t learn anything… or at least anything useful. I understand every one of these complaints and I have seen them firsthand. When I was a teenager I went to more than one self-defense seminar in my area and they were laughable at best.

The way I see it there are two main problems with self-defense seminars, and the first is that most instructors aren’t qualified to teach them. Most of the seminars I’ve seen over the last 25 plus years were taught by some guy who has a black belt. Contrary to popular belief having a black belt doesn’t necessarily qualify you to teach self-defense. One of my black belts is in Songham Taekwondo (ATA style); based solely on what I learned from the ATA I would never dream of teaching someone self-defense. Most instructors with the limited knowledge gained in “just” having a black belt end up teaching a karate class instead of a self-defense class, with techniques ranging from white to yellow belt level. Walking down the floor doing high blocks, reverse punches, and front snap kicks is not self-defense.

I think a a key problem is that people in the martial arts confuse the martial arts with self-defense and see them as one and the same. The thing is that they’re not; most martial arts schools teach their art as an art-form and focus on teaching a student their art-form instead of teaching their student to best ways to defend themselves. I, for example, have three black belts, I’m a “master instructor”, and the main art I study focuses on self-defense and pretty much nothing in it is appropriate for tournaments… yet most of what I teach during a self-defense seminar I learned outside of my martial arts training.

People need to know a lot more than simply how to punch and kick, they need to know how criminals pick their targets, how they commit their crimes, where the most dangerous areas are and what the most dangerous situations are, and exactly how they should be aware. What is going to be of most benefit to people, especially people who don’t intend on committing to regular training, is to be educated on who criminals are, how they work, how to spot them, how to establish boundaries and deal with someone trying to get too close to you, and then how to cause the most injury to the body with the least amount of effort. I’ve spent years and thousands of dollars studying this and I don’t know any traditional martial arts school that teaches it. Knowing how to do a high block and throw a really good side kick doesn’t qualify you to teach someone how to defend themselves.

The other big problem is that, from what I’ve seen, probably about 95% of self-defense seminars are actually not designed to teach people to defend themselves. Most self-defense seminars are actually taught for marketing purposes. Many martial arts schools offer free or low cost seminars to introduce people to their style of martial arts and then pitch them on enrolling in their regular classes. These seminars are marketed as a means for an average person to learn to defend themselves but in reality putting on a quality seminar isn’t their intent. I have friends who charge $25 for a one and a half hour seminar and they spend most of their preparation time looking in the mirror and working on their sales pitch. As a fellow professional martial artist I absolutely understand thins, however, this does a huge disservice to the general public, the martial arts, and yourself in the long run. If that is the kind of seminar you’re going to hold then that is fine but don’t tell people you are going to teach them to defend themselves, be honest with them and call it an “introductory martial arts seminar” or something like that.

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Are you serious about wanting to learn self defense – the kind of skills that will allow you to escape from an attacker who really wants to beat, break, or kill you? Effective street self-defense training is very different from what is typically being offered by the average martial arts, karate, or self defense class at the YMCA though.

Unfortunately, many students who get involved in martial arts or self protection classes with the intention to learn self defense, only end up being disappointed. They find out very quickly that what they are learning is either lessons for winning a trophy in a sporting contest loaded with rules, or…

…half-baked ideas from someone with absolutely no real-world self-defense experience whatsoever!

The problem with most self defense programs is that they focus almost entirely on technique, and not enough on teaching the student how to assess, control, and choose best options for specific encounters. If you are serious about developing skills that will allow you to survive a street attack, then you must learn self defense skills that go about step-by-step mechanics.

Here is a list of 5 considerations that your training must address for your self defense training system to be “street-ready,” and worth the time, effort, and money that your pouring into it:

1) The techniques are based on defending against modern attacks and attackers – not 16th century Chinese, Japanese, or Korean warriors! You must make sure that you’re self defense system is teaching you how to handle and survive against the most probable attacks that would be thrown at you TODAY – not hundreds of years ago!

2) Training is not limited to “classroom” or dojo (‘martial arts training hall’) study. Chances are that you’re not going to be in a wide open space, in loose-fitting clothes and bare-feet when an angry, aggressive, or criminal attacker decides to jump on you!

3) Training assumes that you will be the under-dog, and not the superior fighter. No matter how much skill and ability you have, you must assume that when an attacker chooses you, that he or she already has the advantage – whether it be in size, strength, speed, ability, weapons, or allies that you don’t know about!

4) Everything you do must at least consider the laws governing self-defense. If not, you may find yourself locked up instead of your attacker – charged with assault or murder – because you went too far!

5) Training must be “situational.” You should be learning “options.” You do not know who your attacker(s) will be, what the attack will look like, or where you will be, so you must train to handle as many situational contexts as possible!

Contrary to popular belief, or the sales messages being hyped up by so-called gurus online who are offering to teach you the ONE single move that will devastate any attacker – any time, the reality is that…

Effective self defense requires more than just a few “karate moves.” It involves the ability to think strategically, and understand how to defend yourself with as little wear-and-tear on you as possible.

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The self defense moves in silat syllabus are divided into seven levels. Each level concentrates on specific self defense skills. The levels are marked with belt just like any other self defense or martial art. Those seven levels are white belt, blue belt, brown belt, yellow belt, green belt, red belt and black belt. For every level, each silat exponent needs to master seven topics which emphasize in specific required skills in that level. The seven topics are; Bunga (which teach the exponent how to master the defensive and striking position), Jurus (which includes the art of attack and defense), the Belebat (which teach the students to art of the defensive and counter attack movements), Tapak (the routine on how to destroy your enemy through step pattern movements), Buah (the art of self defense), Tempur Seni (the art of self defense combat) and the Tempur Beladiri (the fast action of combat sparring).

Every silat exponents will starts to learn from the easy skills until advance skills across the seven levels. On the first level (white belt), the exponent will be given Anak Gelanggang or Beginner Silat Exponent title. In this level the students will learn on how to master the basic skills of silat, to balance between fitness and brightness of psychology, psychomotor control and also cognitive development. This consists of physical and mental approach that will combine with all positive aspects in silat activities.

At the second level (blue belt), the exponent will be given Pesilat Remaja or First Rank Junior Silat Exponent title. This level brings elements of self defense and more clearly how to apply their knowledge and unarmed self defense skills either in martial arts performances or competitions. Silat exponent will be able to receive self defence moves skills to develop practical and cultivation of moral values in more effective methods. The aim is to produce a harmony community and well mannered exponent in order to develop strong self-esteem to succeed.

While, the third level (brown belt), the exponent will be given Pesilat Perkasa or Second Rank Junior Silat Exponent title. This level focused on the basic motion, method, manner and Silat as Malaysian self defense. This level also emphasize on strengthening the nation in terms of arts, self defense and traditional martial arts sport.

At the fourth level (yellow belt), the exponent will be given Pesilat Muda or Young Silat Exponent title. This level objective is to strengthen the Malaysian Silat methods in terms of motion, method, manner and form of self defense. At the same time the silat exponent will inheritance the knowledge of silat essences, practices and skills of martial arts that developed from Bunga; which form the Silat self defense skills, martial arts and martial sports. Silat establish movements that embedded positive values, which can form a healthy lifestyle.

At the fifth level (green belt), the exponent will be given Pesilat or Silat Exponent title. This level will teach the exponent to unite the martial arts and self defense moves particularly catching methods followed by striking, topple down, locking and counter attack techniques. This counter attack skill also known as ‘pelepas’ or self release technique. Silat exponent also will learn how to use the step pattern known as ‘melilit’ or circling around the enemy in order to expand the self defense technique. The silat exponent will be introduced to ‘Sikap Pendekar’ or Warrior’s Attitude as the way of life either throughout physical or spiritual aspects; A warrior is a being who has knowledge, practices and is skilful in silat internally (spiritually) and externally (physically), based on the Malay custom, arts and culture in parallel with syarak, one that uses his knowledge and crafts at the right place for justice and peace with a calm soul with physical properties based on the spirit of a chivalrous majestic warrior. This Warrior’s Attitude was written by Pendita Anuar Abdul Wahab, the founder of Silat Malaysia.

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Time, talk and tactics, are basic foundational conceptions of developing a personal self-defense strategy. Take the time to learn and transform the self, and all its multidimensional complexity, into a more enlightened version of the original template. The primal scheme of oneself should evolve productively and progressively, and yet, most of us don’t bother changing very much. By intensive introspection every moment of every day, one strives to assert the energetic transformation of his or her mind. By which the body, its physicality, changes. Or, if not, the totality of the individual mutates and not in a good way. A devolving nature unfolds. And yet, the mind is an illusion that is self-created by the brain’s holistic effort to comprehend, understand and mature.

In the personal art of self-defense for self-survival, defensiveness means well-thought training, practices and procedures for individual development. It is a process by which one changes himself or herself for unique differentiated betterment. The individual mindset does not care what others think or do or believe. Liberation of the self is of primary concern. Enslavement has close affinity for the expectations of unmerited entitlement. Each moment of life is a grateful appreciation of time.

While cattle and sheep graze, the watch dog keeps the watch. He or she is ready, as unfriendly predators plot their schemes. Defensive anticipatory mental alacrity anticipates the decisiveness for personal insight about human nature. One can easily ignore the rigorous of learning and enjoy the gluttony of immediate gratification. However, ignorance in the practice of persistent stupidity invites the peril of sudden finality. There’s always a tug of war between life and death. To avoid the challenges of self-discipline and personal sufficiency, risks deadly consequences.

Time is of the essence, talk is of extraordinary value, and tactics remain essential to proper individual fitness in dealing with the confrontations of life. In the art and the craft of self-defense, there are many aspects to be understood. Utmost in this realm is the necessity for mastery of oneself. Appeals to pitiful excuses are mental treacheries to avoid being a credible and responsible human being. Defensive tactics along this line of thinking has many applications, from work to recreation to social survival. When it comes to protective countermeasures, it involves mind-body integration.

Mental preparedness is crucial to developing and ultimately evolving one’s psychodynamic focus for the art of self-defense. It’s a totality of living and thriving in close connection to other people. Such invites learning about things like spatial alacrity, visual acuity, interpersonal proxemics, body language and so forth. As used here, the word “defensive” should not be misconstrued. Some might consider the term as regressive, non-assertive or even passive. Others prefer words like offensive tactics and whatever might convey readiness. But, instead, it should be viewed as the totality of psychological, as well as physical, overall fitness to prevail in any given setting.

Defensiveness should not be misunderstood, but seen as common sense and imagination unleashed to be creative. Generally, the concept is about personal protection, security, resistance, cover and concealment and many other aspects. Because humans cannot be trusted absolutely and perfectly, precautions are always necessary. Threats come in various forms, from the very subtle to the dangerously overt. Bullies show up in all sizes and shapes using varied ploys and schemes. There are mind games and psychologically abusive ploys, as well physical intrusions into personal space. And, it’s up to you as to what response thought necessary for each unique situation.

People act stupid for a lot of different reasons. Human beings enjoy being irresponsible, slothful, gluttonous and selfish. Most often such antics concern emotional immaturity, as many do not make an effort to grow up. In communal connections, environmental encounters extend from habitat to hallowed halls of academia. From the office to the playground, the boardroom to the stockroom, it’s about dealing with an array of human interactions. So, the art of self-defense means learning, practicing and employing a range of tactics, depending upon the situation. In addition to mental maturity in building confidence and focus, one must consider the opposition.

Opposing forces could be anyone at any place you happen to be. Sometimes, the interaction may be simply a matter of “verbal jujitsu”. On another occasion, the meeting could require more physical intervention in addition to the mental component. Time may be quickly decisive or drawn out, as in a work related meeting of some sort. Talk could encompass the clever wit by which you outwit the adversary. Since many people miss subtle innuendo and metaphorical implications, the odds are in your favor. Most people practice stupidity by way of myriad fallacies of inference.