Martial Arts: Art Versus Reality – Part Three

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We return to a question of balance in all things. Balance provides what is needed to overcome an aggressor.

People of all shapes and sizes from all walks of life have performed fantastic feats well beyond physical limitations when necessary to protect themselves, or their loved ones. Extreme tasks have been performed when called upon like lifting an auto-mobile off an injured person or demonstrating knowledge not found in any classroom.

Some would say that these examples are remembrances of ancestral lives that carry down through generations. Spiritual leaders tell us that this knowledge comes from God or exists in the ether. That anyone can “tune in” to a wealth of knowledge that exists beyond this earthly plane.

Preparation Precedes The Need

In any case knowledge can be learned a step at a time. As stated prior “The greatest swordsman is he who never has to unsheathe his sword. Self-confidence is one cohesive element that permits survival in almost any situation.

The soldier practicing his “art” of war executing particular skills without forethought. The consummate actor performing flawless choreography. And the assurance that if your skills are polished, your practice uncompromising and your intent to succeed are finely honed then the term “LUCK” is merely “the point at which preparation meets opportunity.”

The serious practitioner must develop their skills to a degree that they understand their body’s limitations. To know exactly which techniques will work for them and which will not.

He/She must learn to execute with proficiency and refinement on their opponents body types and skill-sets. Achieving this includes learning through the application of forms (Poomse or Hyungs). This provides a means to apply multiple connected techniques; learning to flow from one striking position to another using the entire body as a weapon.

Later the uncertainty of fighting an actual opponent is presented in mock “sparring”. Learning what it feels like to make contact: striking back and being struck while properly ensconced in protective gear. The difference in how techniques are executed on a heavy bag versus a living, breathing opponent often presents itself in the angle of attack. Improper striking means injury and pain. Such inattention to detail means the intended execution will be rendered ineffective. Learning through sparring even with mild or light contact develops your ability to adapt to uncertain attacks.

The ability to refine techniques in tournament atmospheres permits the student to work with those outside his training center. Techniques may be varied from school to school. Styles can range from harder to softer disciplines. Becoming accustomed to different systems expands the students awareness of their own skills in relation to these differences. The consequences of training can be demonstrated in real-life application.

Training With The Patrol School

Some years ago, this writer assisted in what the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s calls Patrol School. After 2 years working with prisoners in the jail system, an officer must qualify to work on the street. Various scenarios are set up to observe the officer’s interpersonal skills when dealing with the public. These scenarios can range from domestic disputes to suspicious persons lurking around buildings to an armed robbery call or vehicle stops.

We conducted one such training review in the home of Warner Brothers Pictures, Burbank Studios in Burbank, California. On this particular day I was asked to become a suspicious person. Each case scenario varies and officers are told to prepare for anything. Whether it is a possession case or concealed weapon… but also an innocent party.

In this instance I was dressed in an Army jacket waiting outside a business in a hundred degree plus heat. Two officers approached and sought identification. I was required to face away from the officers. I was instructed to kneel down and cross my legs behind me with my hands behind my head. This act was particularly difficult as I was concealing a sawed-off shotgun in my sleeve.

When the female officer frisked me (as her partner watched and talked to me), her arm laid against the sleeve containing my weapon. Her search of my arms missed the weapon. The barrel of which was slightly sticking out of my sleeve. The officers then permitted me to rise, handed my identification back and told me I could leave. I hesitated, dropped the shotgun from my sleeve, and fired at the two. They were standing (contrary to policy) next to each other and were both in the field of fire, completely unaware.

Had this exercise been an actual incident, both officers would have died. While this scenario was played again and again, with varying degrees of threat to the officers, there was no doubt that greater care would have to be employed — before ever setting foot on the streets.

A situation may present itself at any moment. The prepared person will consider all scenarios. No matter the likelihood it may present itself. As such, repetition in learning techniques develops an automatic response mechanism. The body learns to adapt to the situations presented. When that situation arises and the “flight or fight” mechanism of the body’s defenses comes into play, an added level of protection is present. Aggression can be a useful motivation to anyone, dependent upon the circumstances.

What is perceived in the movies as a beautiful choreography plays out in mere terrifying seconds. In actual street application, those precious seconds provide an opportunity to defend, flee, or preclude an attack. But the mind and body, properly trained, will handle its responses immediately. The time for nerves coming to the forefront will present itself — even if properly prepared. “After” your time of trail has passed.

Our children and young adults are exposed to abusive video games and motion pictures on an every day basis. Without a solid base for separating fact from fiction, they may seek to play out their fantasies in the real world with dire consequences. In order to prevent that, we must adhere to a code, or standard, of morality that reflects positive choices where the reward itself in satisfaction in achievement.

Students over the years have oft asked me what I would do if someone confronted me with a knife or gun and demanded my wallet? My response is always the same; “I would hand over my wallet.” As many times as I tell them this, as a new student, they cannot understand the concept.

If You Can Do One Thing You Can Do Anything

So, training requirements include something more. I ask them to read “The Body Language Book”. Later I ask them to read another small book about how to tell if someone is lying in 5 minutes or less “Never Be Lied To Again” by David J Lieberman, P.H.D. These two small advantages can make the difference in how people make choices that affect their lives.

If you are seeking Art, great! The same for self defense. But in doing so don’t expect perfection overnight. Understand the principle that; “If you can so one thing, you can do anything.” Once you have achieved what is deemed proficiency under the right instructor you will not have to worry so much about the choices we have explored here. Your physical and mental skill-set will be certain. You will know your strengths and limitations. Safety will become the by-product.

So, learn well to make good choices. Be true to yourself.