Sunday, November 8, 2009

Skip Karate, buy a gun?

I somehow end up in too many conversations about the value of martial arts training in a society which is increasingly dangerous. As I write this entry we have just witnessed two more shootings, one at a military base, the other in an office building. Most of the comments I hear can be summed up in one of two ways:
  • With car bombings, drive-by shootings, and snipers, how could martial arts training be of any use?
  • I don't need no stinking Kung Fu, I got me a 45!
My personal perspective is that the world, as a whole, is getting better and safer; and I'll defer my arguments as to why for another time. This graphic illustrates some of my thinking. For the subject at hand, it comes down to defending oneself against a gun. Let me be clear, martial arts can save you from a gun - but it's not much use against a bullet. Let's take the two comments above and address them directly.

With car bombings, drive-by shootings, and snipers, how could martial arts training be of any use?
Once the bullets start flying, wouldn't you want to get the hell out of the way, and wouldn't that require some physical ability, stamina, and speed? Wait - did he just say that a trained martial artist would be good at running and hiding? Perspective folks, perspective. Here are the two primary goals of martial arts:
  • Avoid conflict
  • Survive conflict
My personal perspective is that for the vast majority of practitioners, avoiding conflict is the number one goal, and the number one way to avoid conflict is to eliminate fear. Conflicts often start as a result of fear, and fear diminishes as self-defense skills improve. A good martial artist is likely to diffuse a situation before it escalates to the point of gun fire. This could involve all aspects of martial artistry including mental acuity, confidence, and specific self defense techniques to disarm a potential attacker. But, if the bullets start to fly, knowing how to kick through a wall or a door can be a handy defense. The improved physical capabilities that come from training merely add to a person's survivability.

I don't need no stinking Kung Fu, I got me a 45
Nice 'tude there bub. So, how's that whole 45 thing working out for you in the airport, the daycare, church, ball park, public school, swimming pool, government office, or countless other places you are required to be unarmed? Or better yet, you're at the company picnic and that guy from Accounting has had too much to drink and starts pushing your son around. Are you going to shoot him? Or when a panhandler grabs your wife's wrist on the street begging for "just a few bucks?" - you going to pull out your six shooter and go all Clint Eastwood on him? Really?

The value of martial arts training goes way beyond defending yourself - sure if it comes down to hand-to-hand combat the one who has more training usually wins. In fact, I've heard from professional law enforcement experts that martial artists tend to have better judgment and reaction times when using a firearm. The benefits just never end.

It shouldn't be an either / or conversation. "I don't need no stinking spoons, I got a fork. Now, pass me some soup."

1 comment:

  1. I agree,avoid if possible. But when against a heavier, drug crazed 300lb animal, I like to know my .45 is on my belt, even if I dont have to use it. I wonder how many 'belts' would use the full power they have in a strugle with a agressor? It takes a practiced mind set to use lethel force regardless if it is martial art or firepower. When I practice I use real bullets!

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