“Among the arts of self defense in which weapons are not used, no other can surpass the art of Kenpo.”This month in the Intermediate class we are discussing themes of Street Self Defense. We are exploring ranges, scenarios, and techniques which apply to Self Defense; and practicing drills which can help us to develop the skills necessary to survive a violent assault.
Honorable Great Grand Master James M. Mitose
What is Self Defense? (Kenpo Jiu-Jitsu)
The first most important skill to develop is recognizing when to use violence.
“The times for violence are few and far between. They seldom if ever involve strong emotion on your part. If you're feeling extremely angry or upset, odds are that isn't the right time. It's probably better to back off and get some distance from the situation until you cool down.The vast majority of violent confrontations can be avoided by paying attention to your environment, avoiding potentially dangerous situations, and being willing to use reason before your fists. If you stay away from violent people and situations, and you are willing to walk away from them if you encounter them, you will have learned the better part of self defense already.
When someone commits physical violence against you, it is NOT the time for half-measures or debate. Most people are victimized by attackers because they're still thinking about being reasonable and negotiating while the guy is attacking. Once a situation turns physical, the time for talk is over. It has been taken to the next level.”
Marc “Animal” MacYoung
Taking it to the Street
But when violence occurs and we can't talk or escape, we have to be ready to defend ourselves. In those extreme circumstances we need to have a set of guidelines which inform our behavior, and then a set of techniques and approaches we can use depending on the specific context.
“If you make these rules the cornerstone of your mindsetting to survive and escape violence, they will sound in your brain and help trigger an immediate reaction toward escape – as though you're on autopilot.Approaches for surviving self defense situations include Ambush Survival, Stances as Weapons, Defensive Stratagems, Stand Up Grappling, Striking and Escaping, and Changing Ranges and Levels. Striking, grappling, strong stances, and deceptive use of timing and angles are what make effective self defense. You're only as good as your basics.
React Immediately – your best chance to escape violence and minimize injury is in the first few seconds.
Resist – your only alternative is to submit; both choices are lousy, but resisting gives you the best chance.
Crime Scene #2 – always more isolated than the initial point of contact, and always worse for you.
Never, never give up – your attitude can keep you alive when you're badly injured.”
Strong on Defense
In each class, we practice our techniques and drills against our opponent's with increasing intensity. At first, each punch and kick is delivered slowly to develop technique. But as we each grow in ability, we must ask our training partners to strike faster and harder in order for us to continue to learn.
“We should rehearse all the movements we expected to make in the actual match, and we should come as near as we could to the reality.”As we continue to improve, we practice more complex and difficult techniques. Beginning with simple punches and kicks, we soon begin to incorporate angle stepping, insertion strikes, and Poison Hands techniques. But even as the paths of motion and methods of execution we use become more and more sophisticated, it is still the simple movements which are the foundation of our style which determine our effectiveness. You're only as good as your basics.
“The trick in gouge fighting, just as in any other type of combat, is to expose the enemy's weakness first, to beat him to the punch, and to hit hard.”In the end, the goal is not to learn how to fight like your instructors. It is not to go out and practice Dunham's Martial Arts as it is taught in the school. The ultimate goal is for you to internalize the lessons and teachings of the system and then to express them spontaneously in a dynamic situation. We teach self defense. As such, we are results driven. Not every technique will work for you the same way it works for your teachers. Size and strength and speed do matter. But if you continue to train, you will find what works for you. And that is the key. If you are attacked, and you survive, you performed the technique correctly. You won. Nothing else matters.
Lieutenant Jack Dempsey, USCG
How to Fight Tough
“As you begin developing skills from a variety of doctrines, you must learn to integrate them into an effective personal arsenal.”That is self defense. It is not bullying. It is not coercion. It is survival. It is avoiding dangerous situations, and escaping them if you must. It is seeing your family one more time. It is not a game. It is not a matter of pride. It is six guys attacking you from behind with a weapon.
Forrest E. Morgan
Living the Martial Way
Kenpo is Self Defense. It is intended to be the weapon of the Just. It is a sword to be wielded only in the defense of yourself and others. Practice your techniques with utmost seriousness. They may save your life someday.
“Because you have such knowledge and power, and could easily hurt someone with it, you are obligated never to use more force than is necessary to stop aggression. Justice is a tightrope. It takes someone of great skill, humility, self-awareness, sensitivity, and moral restraint to walk it.”Drills -
Perfection of Character
Beginner: Practice moving in both your Natural Stance and your Fighting Stances. Practice kicking and punching in 360 degrees. Practice your environmental awareness by paying attention to the number of people around you as you go through your day at work, at the gas station, at the cinema. This practice will help to awaken you to the presence of threatening and non-threatening actors in your environment.
Intermediate: Practice long range evasion. Have a training partner attack you with kicks and punches and use stance transitions, foot maneuvers, angle stepping, and body movement to avoid contact. Slowly increase speed and intensity. Practice de-escalating dialogue with a training partner. Use soothing hand gestures and a calm, even tone of voice as you back away. Occasionally suddenly escalate to violence so that both students can practice transitioning between reason and violence.
Advanced: Practice Poison Hands and defending against multiple partners. Pinching, biting, finger strikes, and attacks on the opponent's air can all be used to increase your combat effectiveness. Practice holding one opponent in a headlock or choke hold as a human shield while you strike out against another. Gradually increase intensity. Practice identifying and employing environmental weapons in self defense situations. Keep your eyes open for objects in your environment which could be used offensively as a weapon or defensively as cover and concealment.