One of the books that I often refer to when I do a self defense seminar is Roland Ouelette’s Management of Agressive Behavior. Unfortunately, I think it’s now out of print. Still, if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a copy, it’s an excellent book that you’ll find yourself returning to over and over again. One of the points that the author makes when it comes to self defense is the reactionary gap.
If you’ve never thought about it before, consider your personal space. To quote the author, “as a general rule, if we are within four feet of a person, and that person decides to punch, stab, kick o rdisarm us, threre is very little we can do about it. Within our four foot zone, their action will usually beat our reaction, or our reaction time will be slower”.
Keep in mind, folks, we’re not talking about the martial artist who has gone through years of training to cut down on the recation time and close that gap. We’re talking about practical self defense for the untrained person. Consider your personal space in the front, on the side and behind you. How aware are you of personal space when you’re out in public? Do people bump into you a lot when you’re on the cell phone? Are you aware of who’s walking around you when you’re at the ATM machine?
Remember, the closer the potential agressor is to you, the less time you have to react, even if that reaction is simply running away. Unfortunately, we live in a world where there are a lot of things to distract us from maintaining a constant awareness of our personal space. The more you observe what’s going on around you, the easier it will be to prevent something from happening to you.
Tang Soo Do – Can you Defend Yourself?
I could write a thousand articles about this self defense tidbit and that…..but I do say in the title of this blog that this is a Tang Soo Do perspective. Believe me, I have all kinds of books and articles on different techniques and guidelines that I’ve learned from over the years that to this day I still refer to whenever possible. I guess before I go into all of the details of what to use and where, I should speak a little about the art that I study. After quite a number of years in Tang Soo Do, I honestly do think that I can sufficiently defend myself; but it’s mainly because of the amount of time that I’ve put into my practice. After so many years, you realize how versatile the basics can be, and where and when to use what type of kick, punch or block.
Can I use I front kick to defend myself? Yes. Would I aim for your face? Not necessarily…….especially if it’s not practical for me to do so at the time.
Simply put, and in layman’s terms, the focus of self defense, Tang Soo Do is mainly linear kicks and punches, and hard blocks. Still, don’t let that lull you into thinking that we are expecting the “Psycho kinfe killer” (from the movie) to give us an opportunity to use our high block. Did you know that you can use that same high block as a forearm strike under the chin? That’s what I mean by being practical. Grandmaster Kim often says that as you go up in rank, each block becomes a strike. There’s really no way for me to explain that….you have to practice long enough to understand it.
Yes, I will continue to use this page to give you tips regarding self defense; but I want you to understand my perpective. I’m going to default to an ITF Tang Soo Do technique….and I’ve been doing it long enough to augment it to the situation. I believe it was Gichin Funakoshi that once said that “everything is karate”. I think the same is true for all martial arts – including mine.
Master Wayne Boozer
May 9, 2009
What Are You Wearing?
I love putting on my uniform and training for hours on end. Nothing beats the feel of a uniform ‘pop’ when snapping a well-executed side kick, y’know. Still, as I train longer, I find myself valuing alternative training methods when it comes to martial arts and self defense.
Once such alternate is the benefit of training in everyday clothes. Honestly, have you ever thrown a head level round kick with a pair of jeans on? The beauty of a karate uniform is that the give in the seams allows you to maximize your flexibility for kicks and punches. Having that suit and tie on does not necessarily guarantee the same effect.
I know this because I’ve split a few pairs of pants testing the theory.
Ladies, do you wear heels to work? It’s certainly a fashionable statement; and heaven help the poor sap that gets stomped in the thigh with your stilettos. Still, can you run in them without compromising your ability to get away quickly? The same thing goes for skirts, dresses, and anything else relatively tight fighting. Guys, this also includes the boots you’re wearing (myself included).
As eccentric as it may sound, I actually choose my slacks by checking he thigh and crotch space. Honestly, I throw a couple of kicks in them just to test them out as well. I’m not a fan of dress shoes because of the lack of traction. I see this as as a simple self defense precaution that anyone can take.
Instructors, try a class in plain clothes. Request that everyone wear what they would typically wear to work or school; and then go through basics and forms. See how it changes the dynamics of students’ techniques. Doing a uniform-based take-down is a a different animal when the person has on a t-shirt. Remember that the resistance caused by jeans and slacks will slow down that head-level front kick too…..
While it’s good to teach self-defense in comfortable clothing or in uniform, every once in a while, you need to remember what it feels like to potentially defend yourself in plain clothes. Chances are, you will not have your uniform on if someone attacks you. What do you do?
Master Wayne Boozer
June 1, 2009