I would like to announce and explain about the “MySelfDefenseBlog” YouTube channel in this post. You know the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, well in this light – a video is worth ten-thousand words. I have had a youtube channel for years that I’ve used occasionally, but now after watching HEMA (historical european martial arts) videos for the last couple of years, a light bulb went off in my head – hey I can do that!
In this post I will discuss the evolution of the blog to vlog on youtube while retaining the blog. Also the strengths and weaknesses of each medium and what the goals are for me as I evolve as a martial artist – dabbling into HEMA.
First here is the youtube channel: MySelfDefenseBlog. One sample video:
Way back when I was a kid watching Batman and Robin, I was trying to figure out how to throw a knockout punch. I figured from watching the shows that you had to pull your hand way back and swing as hard as you could! My childhood version of fighting was a bit off but I did know that knocking someone out was a good way to win a fight or in self-defense, live to fight another day.
But on this website for years I have focused on those who did not know how to fight, trying to uplift them and motivate them to learn how to fight, but if not that – at least take a short-term self-defense course. So in a manner of speaking I have dumbed down this website. Well as I get older I realize that I am not helping anyone by showing a few good moves and telling people that they can do this with a self-defense class. Perhaps but likely not.
So today’s topic of how to throw a knockout punch is a good example. For self-defense I would have told people to throw an eye shot or half-fist to the throat or a kick to the groin if someone attacked them. Now what would I do? I would just knockout the offending attacker and be done with it.
Is knocking someone out hard? For me? No. For an untrained fighter? Yes. An untrained fighter will need an edge to survive an attack. For me it is unlucky for the attacker to pick me as a victim because likely he will not realize I can fight and give me advantages. But even if he does not, (give me advantages) my go to move is to knock him out and figure out what happened later.
Today I’m starting to develop my youtube channel for My Self-Defense Bog, (MySelfDefenseBlog) where I can upload short videos showing some moves. The videos will be short and to the point at hand. Here is the first in that effort. I’ll go into more detail below after.
You live in a city or country where you cannot carry a gun and your car breaks down. Your cell phone is out of juice but you see a store a couple of blocks down the street. Earlier in the day you had attended martial arts training and still have a trunk full of weapons. Now you see a bunch of guys approaching talking garbage.
I know this is a contrived situation but I had to figure out a way that one might legally have spears, staffs, swords, daggers, clubs, tomahawks, and such to talk about the differences in fighting methods. Before we get going into this discussion I would like to mention my expertise is with unarmed combat (Kenpo Karate or Eastern Martial Arts (EMA) if you will). While I have always had an idea how to use improvised weapons (I understand Kenpo staff fighting methods) , I’ve only started practicing improvised weapons and historical European weapons (HEMA) in the last year or two.
I’ll will try to limit this discussion to the differences I see at each distance. To start lets take an unrealistic view of how an unarmed man might fight a long sword attack.
[Disclaimer: This post is speaking specifically about older men or women that find themselves being threatened with lethal force by younger men or women – so a true fight or flight, if fight… it is for your life – so no holds barred defense including is the ultimate response. I am not endorsing mayhem or killing in the course of a normal lower-threat self-defense scenario.]
Sadly I was disappointed while searching videos of old men (or women) fighting in perceived self-defense situations. Youtube is full of that kind of stuff nowadays due to cell phone cameras. So the real question, “Can older aged men (women implied also) train effectively for fighting?” really came to mind and spurred this post. I intend to frame this argument from the perspective of an old man trained as fighter in his youth (my situation) in the martial arts of some kind. While my art is Kenpo – you could interchange almost any striking art with the same issues to overcome.
As a young man karate students are taught to avoid fights, walk away, deescalate and maybe even run away! This is all an attempt to avoid needless carnage for perceived slights and needless fights over quarters at the pool table (I don’t know where that came from). As a young man – hormones surge through ones body and everyone (men and women) are preening for each other. No one wanted to look weak and many did not let challenges to their man or woman hood go. They defended their honor! Even most martial artists ignored the advice to walk away and digressed to fisticuffs at the drop of a hat.
Well fast forward to late middle ages to the elderly and you will find many that the mind is still willing but the body does not respond so well. Even among martial artists (the subject of this article) you will find old men that will fight a younger man at the drop of the hat. I will argue that older men cannot fall prey to their youthful horrormones [misspelling intended] and actually have to use some of their fast dissipating grey matter and fight smarter at old age if they expect to win. It does not matter your rank or how many fight stories you can tell your children (grandchildren?) about what you could do in your youth! Them times is not now!!!
So please review the first part of this video about some common sense deescalation techniques that while all should consider – old men have to do in order to put up a reasonable defense!
It was the mid-1980’s and I was having a conversation with an old guy I knew from another business. He owned a metal shop and the conversation got to fighting. He knew I used to own a karate school and thought I could take care of myself. He told me that he knew karate and was good at street fighting. We went back and forth for a while with our experience and I assumed since I outranked him I could win easily in any kind of fight. Well as you know in a street fight there are no rules. I squared off with Henry and as I was getting ready into my stance – he jabbed an eye-poke at my forehead!!! My ego was great and my counter punch caught him in his gut and I declared myself the winner!
It reminded me of my childhood cap-gun fights arguing who got who first. You see in a real fight it only matters who wins and winning most often is taking an early advantage and keeping it. Fights only last seconds if someone knows how to fight. I could not accept that a man in his 50’s could get one over on me (a fighter in his 20’s). But looking back on that incident the way a real fight would have gone is me temporarily unable to see while the old guy had his way with me.
I bring this up because of today’s topic, “Are the martial arts effective in a fight?” Save yourself some reading and I’ll tell you the answer now… maybe.
First I would like to mention that the martial arts I am speaking of include Eastern and Western martial arts. I am not discriminating here. I have always said fighting is fighting is fighting. No matter what techniques you choose to accomplish fighting – there are only so many ways to do it and everything is known. So I include karate, kung fu, wrestling, boxing, muay thai, jiu-jitsu (Japanese and Brazilian), judo, savate and so forth… any martial art you can think of I am including in this list.
Check out this short video from a school owner I found on youtube, Fred Mergen, about will MMA work in a street fight to frame the arguments.
You would not believe how often white belts (white, orange, purple, blue, green) ask me what would I do if or if I thought I could really defend myself if questions. I also see this type of question on other blogs and websites. I’ve even seen it stated that becoming a black belt does not equate to fighting ability. I’ve diligently read those points of view and found it is nothing new. Students and even some upper belts that have never been in a real fight wonder if what they know really works!
I’ve never considered this question after I started taking lessons at Tracy’s Karate so many years ago. You see I had tried some Japanese/Okinawan karate and Samoan Kung Fu/Karate (Lima Lama) and had those kind of questions before. Although I had not been in many real fights since Jr. High School – I had been sparring and going to tournaments. I was able to kick and punch ok but I was not consistent in winning those matches.
I did not really know how to fight (probably not the styles but the instructors). I will continue this story later but after going to Tracy’s Karate (now Dick Willett’s American Kenpo Karate Association), I’ve never looked back. Fighting is easy because Dick taught me what I was trying to accomplish while I was fighting. No instructor had ever done that before.
In this post I will address the question, absurd as it is, “So now you know karate; can you fight?” But first here is John Graden, a JLFS Master about building confidence.
Kind of an interesting title, “What is Karate…” for this article. I used to be the guy that sold dreams to people wanting to learn karate. To most Americans in the 1970’s and 1980’s, karate was a mysterious way of fighting. Perhaps they had seen movies and TV shows how a smaller man/woman/child could best a bigger, stronger opponent. So when people waked in to my studio I would tell them what was possible for them or their children.
The thing is there was no single idea of what karate was to people. Many wanted self defense at first but then sought to attain, rank, trophy in sport kumite and kata. Some wanted to learn some good street fighting techniques (most for self defense). The thing is as a salesman – I changed my presentation to suit each person individually. I told them whatever reasonable goal they had for karate – I would help them achieve that as well as teach then the Kenpo Karate system of self defense.
Before I give you my answer of what I think karate is, watch this catchy karate rap video of the period for a good idea of what people thought of karate back in the day.