It’s staggering to consider the changes we’ve seen in the last forty years. Along with the biggest thing we’ve lost – the respect for the sanctity of life – have come a hundred other losses as well, including the simple security Americans once enjoyed. What the Oklahoma City bombing began, the attacks of September 11 sealed. And it’s not just on a grand scale, either. As partisan, racial, and economic unrest increase, so do your chances of having to defend yourself one on one.
The preparations you’ve made in terms of food, shelter, clean water, weapons and ammunition need to be complemented by confidence in empty-handed fighting. What happens when you need to venture outside your compound to replenish your storehouse… especially when your ammunition stores dwindle or run out? In other words, are you prepared for the inevitable return to empty-handed combat (inevitable for all but those who can manufacture ammunition on the spot)?
Most of us are more comfortable meeting our enemy somewhere within firing range. This is completely understandable! However, to the trained, close proximity can actually bring an increase in confidence. It calms you down to know you’re prepared to confront any enemy, with or without a weapon. There’s a sense of security knowing you’re in control.
But what kind of preparation should you undertake? Remember the difference between self-defense and a true martial art. Self-defense will prepare you for only certain situations and limit your effectiveness to those specific cases. In contrast, a true martial art prepares the student for ever-changing scenarios. In other words, choose a true martial art.
Then decide which of the hundreds of styles is best suited to your individual needs. Of course, you’ll get as many opinions as instructors you may ask. Filter out hype and flash, and ask the important questions. Still, the possibilities can seem too many to consider – Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, Filipino, or one hailing from another country? You’re not looking for anything defined primarily as a “sport,” unless you’re looking for trophies and recognition. The goal is preparation for empty-handed survival.
Ask family or friends who have been involved in the martial arts for their take on your needs. Visit nearby schools. Would they let you observe, or even participate once or twice (hopefully without cost)? A serious instructor should have no objection to this request. What is the history of the style, and the experience of the instructors? Have any of them been forced to defend themselves out in the “real” world? How long have they been teaching? Avoid those who claim master status, but who have only studied the art themselves for a few years. A true master has achieved this level after years of labor and dedication.
You’re not there to look at the pictures on the wall, nor the latest in equipment. You’re not there to fall for any and every thing the instructor claims. See through the words and frankly evaluate the style. After you find an instructor who lets you watch and participate, you’re halfway there. Do the movements seem natural to you, or forced? Does the beginner start at the… well, beginning, learning the basics, or are they thrown in with higher level students? And most importantly for your survival preparations, are you taught to move effectively from one technique to the next, as most real-world situations require of you? The inability to make a quick and informed transition can spell the difference between life and death for you and your family.
Don’t be overwhelmed with the choices available in martial arts training. Analyze each one that interests you, one by one, until your choice becomes clear. But start now, in order to become effective as soon as possible, and to add the art to your personal skills and routine. You owe it to yourself and those who depend on you for survival.