Self Defence and Jujitsu

What is Self Defence?

A Few Thoughts on Self Defence and Jujitsu

If I become a martial artist does that mean I am going to be good at self-defence in any situation. The answer is no!!!!

Steve Mcdade

Martial Arts were originally formulated to teach soldiers how to defend themselves on the battlefield when they were no longer in possession of the weapons they were trained to use.

As the military techniques the soldiers were shown changed to adapt to more modern times and some arts left out altogether along with techniques that were considered only for the battlefield. Those arts changed and some became combat sports where the objective was to win points and the techniques were adapted for this reason.

Not all of the Martial Arts went through this change. They kept the self defence techniques needed to survive in the ultimate of self defence situations. Ju-jitsu, the art I have studied for over 30 years is one of the oldest of these arts. It is often called the mother of the Martial Arts.

In modern times mixed martial arts, MMA, is now very popular as it takes the best that every art has to give whether it is stand up based or a grappling art. Ju-jitsu is considered essential in any serious mixed martial artist arsenal. This speaks for itself. However, in my opinion, true ju-jitsu being the mother of the martial arts never took from other arts but on the contrary arts such as krav maga, judo and aikido owe their origins to ju-jitsu.

Ju-jitsu based self defence has never relied on power or an all or nothing approach as in a lot of arts derived around striking systems. It is for this reason that the self defence in ju-jitsu has been embraced by the police and the security forces where self defence has to take in to account the acceptable use of minimum force and the guidelines of law.

The self defence system we teach is not about using strength against strength, if that was the case the physically stronger person would always win. However if you use the attackers strength against them then no matter how strong they are or how weak you are in its true concept they will not be able to defeat you.

An example of this, if somebody were to grab me by the throat pushing me backwards I would not resist or fight back against the attackers momentum, in fact I would harmonize with it and draw the attacker off balance, of course it is never that easy so a little diversion may be needed such as a swift snap kick to the side of the attackers leading leg on the side of the knee, what we refer to as a weakener, then a counter attack will be implemented.

The use of resilience rather than confrontation is what self-defence ju-jitsu is all about - "the compliant way". Having superior self-defence skills and showing excellent techniques in demonstrations and in the training hall is all very well, but is only part of true self-defence training. The true test comes in a real life situation when you are under pressure and every instinct is telling you to run away or you do not control or understand the adrenaline rushes you are getting, and mistake it as fear and freeze to the spot, the flight or fight syndrome.

To train for this kind of situation is very difficult as you need to train in as many realistic situations as you can, this kind of hard training is not for everyone and is very useful for professionals that are often in the front line in volatile situations and understand what it feels like and therefore can adapt there training effectively.

Hard training furnishes many benefits; it cultivates in the student the will to win the desire and refusal not to lose. This again has nothing to do with the use of physical strength; it is purely mental mind set. Yes this course of vigorous training will and does discourage many students, that is why it is reserved for those students that wish to truly learn effective self defence like those in the security sector and is not encouraged during regular basic self defence classes. The student that does complete advanced self defence classes through hard training must be careful to avoid overconfidence and control their ego, as complacency is a very dangerous obstruction to good self defence.

Should I use a weapon for self-defence?

This would depend on the situation you find you self in and the implications of how this would be perceived in a court of law.

If you are carrying a weapon for protection, then you are breaking the law full stop. However if you are being attacked and you pick up an innocent looking object and use it as a weapon as you have been trained in this type of combat, then it again would depend on the situation. Unless you are prepared to use it and know how to, it is best not to take it up.

A brandished weapon must have a deterrent value; it must appear to be capable of inflicting injury. The weapon must be suited to the situation, for example it would be difficult to use your walking stick or umbrella in a telephone box.

If a weapon was to be used to deter somebody from attacking you, a (frightener) you should bare in mind that the weapon could be taken off you and used against you.

The reasons for the use of a weapon should never be to kill the attacker, but rather to cause such pain that he or she becomes dissuaded from pursuing the attack. With this in mind you should only strike vulnerable not fatal targets, such as the arms and legs, or a well-muscled area, stay away from stomach, chest, neck or face, and again this could be difficult when the attacker is shuffling and moving quickly in front of you, another reason for not using a weapon in the first place.

If you feel you really do need to grab some sort of weapon to defend yourself, don't waste time looking around, like looking in drawers or looking through a bin for a bottle or sharp instrument use this time instead to escape.

Standing up for yourself

It is a sad fact that the weak are natural targets for the aggressor. The quite and nervous person stands a much greater chance of being harassed or attacked than the assertive person. What is the difference between the two? Body language is the main giveaway that indicates a potential victim; I am no expert in body language neither am I qualified in psychology, however I have no problem identifying someone who is ill at ease or nervous. Their refusal to make eye contact avoiding your gaze and the way they stand with hunched shoulders and lowered eyes mark them as a potential victim. When these people are confronted by a dominant individual they tend to shrink into themselves, passively accepting domination.

How do I respond to confrontation?

When you are confronted by an aggressor stand straight and look directly into the other person's eyes. If the person being aggressive or threatening towards you is standing, then you must stand also, try to control your breathing you will have adrenaline pumping through your body like a steam train that is out of control, don't worry this is perfectly natural response from your body it is just gearing up for danger so as to perform at its best, just like when you are lining up for a race or are about to make a speech in front of a large gathering.

Try to relax your shoulders and hold your head up high and let your arms hang naturally by your side keep your features relaxed and as emotionless as possible, put on your poker face, stare at the aggressor and hold you're his gaze, do not break your gaze and look down or away. Before you speak take a deep breath through your nose to calm yourself but do not make this obvious. As you speak do not seem querulous or hesitant, don't bluster or repeat yourself but speak firmly in your normal tone of voice and do not chatter, but respond only when necessary and keep your answers to a minimum of words. It will be easy for your attacker to detect false bravado, as your body language will not match the words you are using.

Try to take the heat out of the situation by not responding to verbal threats or insults but at the same time remain focused on the aggressor. Whilst you are in a confrontation in my experience it is best that you keep out of the aggressors striking distance, if you do read the situation wrongly and you are being lined up for a strike and you get that gut feeling, take an extra step back, if the aggressor takes a step forward then take another step back and hold your hands up in front of you open with your palms facing the attacker, bring your right leg in behind your left or the reverse this gives less of a target and you are in a defensive stance position this stops any surprise attacks.

At this point you have to make a decision, is the attacker closing me down to get a strike in or is he an idiot that thinks he can threaten me right in my face whilst building up confidence to hit me, if he is trying to line me up then you either make a hasty retreat and live to fight another day or you let him have it he should have read the warnings you have given him.

Being Observant

As the saying goes "only fools rush in".

What should you do if you feel a hand on your shoulder in a busy public house, do you just look anyway and maybe find yourself on the business end of a pint glass in your face? Or do you look at which hand has got your shoulder and where the thumb is on the hand telling you to turn away from the approach in the cautious manner, make the wrong decision and you will meet whatever he is holding in the other hand. It may be a friend ready with a handshake or it may not.

The little habits we learn could result in saving our lives but at the same time it all depends on the environment we are in at the time. Observations help you keep out of potential dangers and you should try and set up a system where simple common sense precautions operate without conscious thought. For example if you get a gut feeling that it is not safe to walk down that alley way as there are some iffy looking characters there, then don't, go another way.

Don't sit with your back to a door but arrange yourself so you can see the whole room and where all the exits are and if there are any obstructions, if possible sit between a table and a wall. If you are travelling by train choose a carriage with lots of people and if they all get out at a station get out to and look for another carriage, don't be left alone with only a few strangers. If you are threatened do not make an inflammatory response just walk away and do not respond to provocation or insults. Always keep your cool and try to reason with the person at first.

Always try to avoid overt signs of anxiety as this can be like a red rag to a bull with certain types of potential attackers, if someone believes you have offended them, offer apologies even when you have done nothing to apologise for, however be assertive in your response.

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