As a black belt in a system whose training was very 'ol' school'. We were full contact, used no protective pads, and did all training, throws, and falls on concrete. We knew we were tough; tougher than any other martial artists, of course. Arrogance was a part of my person as well - probably just the arrogance of young ignorance. I knew I was fully prepared to defend against an attack from that bad guy coming from the dark alley way.
I was sold a façade. It's not the many techniques, physical skills or toughness that will be the golden ticket, the silver bullet, or wooden stake in defending.
Throughout my martial art training, I always wondered how will I know which one of the 150+ technique use when I am attacked? Whenever I asked, the answer was always, "You'll just know". Like most karate/martial arts schools, the techniques were practiced in a static way. Two people face each other, a step or two away from one another. One executes the 'attack'; either a punch of some sort or a grab or maybe even a gun or knife. Always expected, always face-to-face from a 'fighting' stance.
So after my experience, I walked away from the traditional, classical, patriarchal, militaristic martial art that I had trained in for 18 years. I felt it failed me. There were very, very vital elements of personal defense that were missing from the training. But who knew?
That was 16 years ago.
I had no idea what those 'missing' elements even were or that they were for real. How does one go about 'finding' something not known?
Twelve years ago I learned of those missing elements with the discovery of an instructor who filled in the blanks. In his school, above the entrance, Phil has a sign posted: "For Those Who Are Seeking". Pretty ironic, I thought. Especially considering where his school is located in relation to where I lived. What are the chances!?
Six years ago, I came across even more in-depth awareness and consciousness about those very elements. All because I touched base with the guy who wrote, Meditations on Violence, A Comparison of Martial Arts Training an Real World Violence. This book validated what I thought I had experienced. It felt good that someone understood. And still, I keep finding myself in the presence of knowledgeable and experienced people, learning amazing and sometimes disturbing insights from them. Little ol' me from the middle of nowhere!
The saying 'you dont know what you dont know' and the scripted, static, 'tab-A-into-slot-B' self defense taught in martial art schools are not whole. It's a façade. It looks cool, and feels empowering, but it is not whole, it's not in it's entirety. But who would know?
I want to be as prepared as possible. It's more than the physical, it's the emotional, the psychological, the intangibles, the before and the after. I want to know how to see what to see; pre-incident indicators and I want to know the realities of 'threat recognition'. This is why I go train. This is why I have the network of people that I go to to learn from.
Those who prepare and train themselves for the possibility of violence will react differently than those who do not. ~Left of Bang, p.189
I want to be as prepared as I can possibly be. This means educating myself, along with others, to be prepared for the possibility of violence. Yet I am fully aware that there is more that I dont know.
What is it? What dont' you know?