Self Defence Vs Martial Arts


Every martial art is a system of movements based on body mechanics to produce a desired effect. Each style will have its unique way of moving. Each style will have its particular rhythms, strikes, kicks, deflections, defences, take-downs etc.

Every style of martial art is capable of delivering massive amounts of damage to an opponent; ranging from strikes, take–downs, joint locks, kicks, and chokes just to name a few moves.
Some martial arts have been developed or has been adapted over time for competition. Audiences are most often treated to a spectacular contest, especially at the highest levels of competition. Competition based styles ,may also be effective for self defence purposes on the street, outside of the ring; as long as the practitioner is competent and experienced enough to be able to adapt the skill sets that they have learnt at the gym, to the street.

For example, an inexperienced grappler may cause himself (and his opponent) harm if attempting a take-down in a night club on hard ground and it goes wrong. However a very skilled and experienced practitioner will be able to adapt the move to make it work in any particular situation they are in.

An inexperienced boxer may hurt their knuckles in a street fight, whist a skilled, conditioned and experienced one, will be able to make it work without damaging themselves.

An inexperienced practitioner may find it difficult to kick in a close-quarters combat situation, whilst a seasoned practitioner will somehow make the move highly effective.

With due respect to all styles of martial arts; all competition based styles will have their limitations in a street fight situation due to the reasons below. Please note that these points below comes down to one thing; the unpredictable nature of the street. There are no set rules or parameters on the street, you have to learn to deal with the chaotic nature of a street confrontation.

1. Set rules

The rules and regulations associated with a particular sporting martial art will govern the moves that are permitted. For example, eye-gouging, striking at the back of the neck, striking to the groin area or throat is not permitted in any (legal) competition style. In a street situation however, these areas are the most effective target points to finish the fight quickly. By targeting these areas, the perceived ‘smaller’, weaker, more vulnerable person may have a chance to defend themselves against a ‘larger, stronger opponent’ in a street situation. because no matter how strong a person is, they cannot condition certain areas of the body (ie, eyes, groin, throat, back of the neck).

2. Most competition styles train only for one-on-one situations

Most competition based styles are focused on a one-one fight, however a street situation may involve multiple opponents. It is important to learn to fight multiple opponents at the same time. This will require you to learn to deal with multiple opponents coming from all different angles and distances, to truly become street effective. For example, even if you are able to execute a perfect take-down on one opponent, they may have two other friends which may join the fight, catching you unaware.

3. Unpredictability

A competition has set parameters on the length of a round, what constitutes the end of the contest, e.g. a 10 count knock-down count or a tap-out. On the street however, opponent(s) may still be kicking you in the head, even when you are knocked down to the ground.

Weapons may be used against you in a street fight and you may find yourself short of answers if you have never trained responses for these situations at the gym. If someone confronts you with a weapon on the street and you have never trained for this situation, you may find yourself at the mercy of your attacker. There are an infinite amount of variables that may have a massive impact on the situation on the street. Some of these include different flooring, lighting, the shape and space of the room you are in etc.

In a predetermined contest, you will know exactly the date, time, location of the fight as well as who your opponent will be. In most instances fighters will be carefully matched taking into consideration each fighters weight class and experience level reducing the risk of an uneven match. Each fighter will know exactly when to peak for the fight. The unpredictable nature of a self defence situation however is; you may be peacefully walking back to your car after dinner with your partner when confronted. Or you may be relaxing in your living room when being confronted by an attacker where you need to go from being in a relaxed state to fight mode immediately. Moreover, you may be out classed in terms of weight or experience level.

In the ring, most fighters are professionals who are passionate about their chosen sport and have committed to following the predetermined rules. In a self- defence situation however, you may be faced with a violent and unpredictable individual who cannot be reasoned with.

4. Style V Style

Until the recent popularity of mixed martial arts, most styles of martial arts would compete against an opponent who would practice the same style, same weight division and same level of experience.

Some styles may be steeped in tradition, where the concept of honour may prevent the practitioner from striking from the flank or back. Or it may not allow the practitioner to attack before their opponent is ready and waiting, therefore not being able to utilise the element of surprise. In a self defence situation, the element of surprise and unpredictability may be your greatest advantage.

If you are looking for a style that is more geared towards self-defence rather than competition, please keep the following in mind.

The biggest downfall of some self defence styles is that they may too simplistic in their skill sets, approach and application. For example, eye gouging is a very effective technique in a self defence situation. However to be able to apply an eye gouge in a high pressure situation, you will need to learn to position your body correctly in relation to your opponent, you may need to apply appropriate foot-work to be in the correct distance and angle and you may also need to deflect a punch, avoid a tackle, avoid a kick, escape from a grab (or many other situations) first, before attempting to apply the eye gouge.

You will need to have practiced for hundreds of hours so that the correct responses are applied to the stimulus. Through the process of being a long-term student, you will gain better understanding of the emotional and mental components of a confrontation. A seasoned competitive fighter is experienced with how to deal with the mental and emotional elements of fighting, whilst a 6 week self defence course will not give you the same experience. It will provide you with limited responses to only a few stimulus’.

If you are looking to train for self defence reasons, be sure to pick a style/system that is comprehensive and not too simplistic. Commit to training and practicing for the long term. Although a six week course can start you off on your journey, do not expect to be able to handle yourself like a pro or competently in various situations; you will need to really apply yourself for the long term if you want real results.

Be prepared to work on your physicality also. Many self defence styles do not work on physicality enough. In a self defence situation, the more conditioned you are, the more effective you will be. There is a physical component to defending yourself on the street, technique will only get you so far. You will need to train like an athlete to become more explosive, stronger, fitter, flexible and supple. You will also need to be emotionally and mentally conditioned to handle confrontation.

For a system to be street effective, you will need to learn answers for many different scenarios that you may potentially face on the street; from take-downs to punches to multiple opponents to being attacked with weapons to name a few situations.

Choose a style that is systemic and dynamic with major emphasis on technique, as well as conditioning.

Arakan Martial Art® will allow you to adapt to many street situations Arakan Martial Art® teaches effective self defence techniques that are efficient, practical and easily adaptable to the street environment. Arakan is fast, powerful, unique, fluid, practical and highly effective for self-protection against one or even multiple attackers, should the need ever arise.
Our goal is to equip students with the techniques, discipline, conditioning and skills to remain calm in heightened situations and to diffuse many situations that may be encountered on the street. Techniques that are highly adaptable with the ability to control any situation quickly and effectively, to ensure the safety of yourself and all concerned.

The first principle of Arakan Martial Art® is awareness. Should you be aware of a potential situation even before it arises, you will then be able to take measures to completely avoid a confrontation. Should a situation escalate, then you will be equipped with techniques and conditioned to quickly resolve those situations.

Arakan lessons are structured in a ‘response to stimulus’ type training. Training is structured in such a way that you will learn how to protect yourself against potential grabs, punches, kicks, tackles etc. You are able to experience the stimulus in a safe environment and then learn techniques and skill sets to better deal with that potential situation. Arakan is very rich in terms of how one may respond in any situation. Over time, you will become proficient in defending yourself, ensuring the safety of yourself and others. You will become more conditioned and adaptable. Your awareness will become more heightened and your potential to identify a hazardous situation increases; this allows you to be more situationally aware, giving you the advantage.

By learning these techniques you have a greater understanding of body mechanics, how the body moves and works. You would have also ‘experienced’ potential situations, ‘role played’ in your lesson, thousands of times. This increases your threshold and prepares you emotionally and mentally on the street should a situation occur.

For example; if you have never been grabbed, punched, kicked, attacked or verbally abused in anyway and the first time it happens is during a confrontation, then you are most likely going to be completely unprepared with how to deal with that situation. With Arakan Martial Art® experiential training, you will have trained for these scenarios and many more, to enable you to be better prepared emotionally, mentally and physically, should you be confronted in a potential situation.

Training consistently and frequently, you will enhance your techniques, skills sets and awareness, which will provide you with greater safety and security. Consistency gives you proficiency in your training, providing greater confidence in your ability and greater skill sets in being able to adapt and defend yourself in any situation.

Strength, flexibility and fitness components are incorporated into Arakan training, to ensure you are performing in peak condition whilst learning to defend yourself in any situation. We train this way to enhance our ability to train Arakan Martial Art® and this transforms into performing everyday tasks safely and efficiently. It strengthens muscles, increases balance and agility, therefore reducing the risk of an injury and enhances your quality of life.

Arakan Martial Art® is incredibly adaptable. Through training you will learn to have greater control over your body, become physically fitter, stronger, more agile, flexible and more adaptable. By having a greater control over your body, you will be better able to take control over your opponent.

To find out more about Arakan Martial Art® or to begin your journey, please fill in the form on this page for a complimentary introductory lesson.

This post is written solely from the express view of the writer and is intended as information purposes only.

I originally started training Arakan Martial Art out of curiosity back in June 2010. I was new to the Gold Coast, had always wanted to try a martial art and saw the sign for the office just around the corner from where I was living. 
Previously I had spent years at various gyms and had sought costly personal trainers which kept me reasonably fit but i decided I may be better spending the money to learn how to defend myself should the situation ever arise.
What I discovered from Arakan Martial Art was so much more. Of course it provides all the fitness and conditioning one would expect from a martial art however it is the "fight logic" that really differentiates the art. You are taught to assess your environment and use it to your advantage. This includes not only aspects such as where to position yourself in a certain situation but also how to deal with obstacles a situation may possess. There are a multitude of different locations where the art is trained that cater for everybody e.g.. nightclubs, home invasion, In your car, dark alleys, wide open areas, parks, beach etc.
Another important aspect to the art is the culture within the club. Ego is left at the gate. All of the instructors are very humble which stems from the top and is evident throughout the club. As everyone's journey is their own, you are only asked to do what you are capable of and you are only challenging yourself.
On a personal note I have found Arakan Martial Art gives me a release from the day to day pressures of work, which in turn has allowed me to become a calmer person and think more rationally. 
It never matters how bad my day has been walking into a lesson, I always walk out exhausted, full of knowledge, relaxed and with a smile on my face. 

Robert Mackay


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