Photo by Fervent Jan

Learn To Fight So That You Don’t Have To

Beyond the intentional decision to become healthier, there are a variety of motivators in choosing a fitness activity. Be it an element of vanity, the desire to compete, or as a social outlet, this reason often underpins the activity’s success and longevity. However, when paired with a need that fulfils a basic human want, that activity becomes a lifelong dedication.

Violence in its many forms — be it schoolyard bullying, domestic force, or a seemingly random street incident — is so pervasive in the public consciousness through the news, media and everyday discourse that many are turning to martial arts as a solution.

The need to feel safe and the right to defend oneself and family cannot be underestimated.

To the uninitiated, the idea of martial arts is one gleaned through the context of movies. Whether it is inhuman feats of mysticism, the primal rage of a dirty brawl, or the rapid series of disabling precision strikes, the truth lies somewhere in between.

The most common misconception is that martial arts starts when the first punch is thrown. Self-defence systems, unlike fighting styles taught specifically for competition, advocate awareness, avoidance and de-escalation — the best way to avoid a fight is not be there in first place. Even in situations where conflict may seem inevitable, there is still time for preventative action. It is only when all of these fail, that the physical struggle comes into play.

Like any new endeavour, getting started can be challenging. While the rigours of learning unfamiliar movements, weaving them into combinations, and building up muscle memory is not uncommon for any sport, it is the mental and emotional components that add layers of complexity to this activity. The industry saying One often has a plan until punched in the face is a testament to this — maintaining calm and initiating effective action in the face of someone who means you harm takes training.

And lots of it.

Amplify this by facing multiple aggressors or the added danger of weapons, and it is quickly evident that martial arts training cannot be approached casually or fleetingly.

It is not meant to be easy, but the rewards are deeply satisfying.

Stylistically, martial arts are as diverse as the cultures that birth them. Regardless of their quirks, each fundamentally includes punches, kicks, grappling and ground techniques. Though styles will generally focus on one of these areas, the rise of mixed martial arts (MMA) as popularised by the UFC, has highlighted the necessity of being aware, if not practised, across all these elements.

Martial arts organisations can often be found in abundance in any city. For newcomers, the best advice is to find one which feels good to be in — feeling safe and being able to trust the space, the people and the instructor is paramount. Asking questions should not be discouraged, as knowing a technique’s evolution, its limits and practical application will aid in the learning process, its eventual mastery, and may ultimately save your life.

And that’s what it comes down to. A martial arts path is not one that ends in glory but is pursued for the peace-of-mind so that one can walk in peace. Although somewhat ironic in that by training harder there is less likelihood of putting it to practice, but if it only saves you or a loved one once, is that not worth it?

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