By Hakeem Alexander
(Exercising Your Mind) Self-Defense and Martial Arts continue to be mysterious to many people. I trust that this essay will help to make clear that there is no mystery in Self-Defense, so that you can have access to simple strategies for improving self confidence and physical health. The main idea is that practice and being physically fit and healthy is a primary foundation for Self-Defense. The more fit you are, the more readily you will be able to use basic fighting tools such as punching, kicking and escaping to protect yourself. This is something that I never wish you to have to use, but the empowering attitude you will earn with this knowledge is invaluable.
From many years sharing my enthusiasm for athleticism, martial arts and fitness, I have observed a very basic result from training. It may be obvious, but it is worth explaining because it is often overlooked due to its simplicity like many things. It is also one of the foundations I believe is the cornerstone of all physical training and conditioning: PRACTICE. Basically, the more you do something, the easier it is to do again. For example: Do 10 squats, 10 push-ups and 10 crunches 3 to 4 days every week for a month, and it will be much easier to do the same routine again the next month. Obvious and simple enough right?
Logically, this carries over to striking and escaping. If you practice fighting an invisible opponent, also known as shadowboxing, and/or hitting a punching-bag or other target on a regular basis, it will be easier for you deliver these moves if you ever need them. 100 punches, 100 kicks and ducking under punches 100 times per day, 3 days each week will put you on the right track. You will condition yourself to be more fit and learn some valuable, confidence building skills. As oversimplified as this may seem, it is a good place to begin.
This is all there is to much of the physical part of Self-Defense or martial arts training of any kind. When you consistently do push-ups, squats and crunches, your body becomes stronger and it is easier to function through your regular daily activities such as getting out of bed, standing up from sitting, and walking. Its like a baseball player who swings a heavier bat than the one he is to use “at bat” before he stands in front of the pitcher. It makes his swing feel much easier. Some people who jog with added weight on their bodies report feeling like they are weightless while walking, sometimes for hours after the loaded jogging.
The harsh reality of the most primitive form of Self-Defense is that you have to strike (punch and/or kick) an attacker hard enough to give you time to escape, to scare them off, or injure them so seriously that they are knocked unconscious or for some other reason cannot continue their assault. To earn this ability to do so you will first have to break a sweat by punching and kicking as exercises, much as you would do sets of push-ups, so that you build the strength to more easily employ theses strikes if ever needed. Of course you must learn and practice the proper form so as not to injure yourself while delivering the maximum amount of damage to your adversary. Also, there is some mental training required to strengthen your mind-set for Self-Defense. But the minimum requirement is Healthy Living, or being physically fit.
Earlier I noted that punching, kicking and escaping were basic Self-Defense tactics. Many times escaping means running. Running is a very effective Self-Defense tactic. But if you are not fit enough to run, your options are limited to confrontation. Most likely if you are not fit enough to run, you are not fit enough to defend yourself. This is not always the case, but is logically consistent. You don’t have to be a marathon runner or track-star, but you should be able to run without passing out half a block away or clumsily falling over yourself. Obvious and simple yes?
If you are interested in Self-Defense, there is no easy way out of this. You must study and practice consistently. Even the most basic exercises such as squats, push-ups and crunches practiced on a regular basis will earn you an advantage in defending yourself because you will be stronger and healthier. Especially when you are moving your own body weight around. You become more aware of your body’s positioning in space, balance and coordination.
When you study and practice very basic striking and escape techniques like the type taught to boxers, you add more effectiveness to your arsenal. If you just trained in boxing alone, you would have the advantage over most attackers. You will have very high fitness conditioning and be armed with extremely effective striking and escaping tactics. Many people can learn these skills on their own through books and other media and be quite effective. Others will desire or require a coach or trainer. Be honest with yourself and where you are now and decide intelligently which option or combination works best for you.
Desiring to learn Self-Defense is just one of many reasons to adopt a regular program of Healthy Living for your body. Practical exercise, intelligent nutrition and adequate rest are the foundations for any well informed physical conditioning program, and Self-Defense is no different in this way. If what I have shared with you makes sense, then you understand why I say there should be, and really is no mystery regarding Self-Defense or Martial Arts training or practice.
Once again and simply stated: Healthy Living is a Primary Foundation for Self-Defense.