Thursday, February 4, 2010

Why study self defense?

I once was teaching a small self defense course and demonstrated a somewhat brutal (but necessarily so) technique. A woman taking the class said to me, "Geez, what town are you from where you'd ever need to use that?"

I hadn't taught many classes before that one and I was honestly astonished at the comment. How could someone even take a class like this if they thought this way. I didn't have a good answer for her then and it even made me question myself.

When I lived in Springfield I knew the town, I knew the people, I knew the places that were safe and the places that were not (not many of those) and thought that her comment made some sense. What had I really experienced that made me think I would ever need to kick someone or break an arm or even have to take a life of someone to save my own life or someone else's?

When I taught this class it was in a smaller town of about 100,000 people. Quiet, reasonably safe place. Since then, I've traveled to many other places - mostly because of my job as a traveling consultant - New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, London.. I saw Tokyo and Manila when I was younger. Now live in a much bigger city, the 15th largest in the United States - Austin, Texas. I'm not saying the size of a city is relative to its safeness, but I've experienced and learned many things since that class and now I have my answer:

You never know where life will take you. Be prepared.

I've thought about her question since then. I think about it every time that something happens to me where I think it's possible that a physical confrontation could occur. I could have given this answer to her then, but it wouldn't have meant as much to me. What had I really experienced then? What had I read? What had I researched?

I do my best to stay safe. I stay in safe areas of towns, I do my best to prevent and avoid bad things from happening and so far I've been pretty successful. I must admit though that I've wound up in some places and situations that I wish I hadn't. Some almost seem unavoidable and I can see how they basically would be to some people. You can't prevent everything. I have to say, I'm very happy I'm male (less of a target) and in good shape (can run and defend). Those two things have given me more security than all my martial training combined.

Things happen by chance and by accident. Have you ever been lost in a city? Lost while on foot? Have you ever turned a corner to find a few dudes that don't look particularly pleasant? Have they you ever been confronted by people like that? Have you ever thought you were being followed or pursued for reasons you're not sure of? I consider myself an extremely prevention-savvy and un-paranoid person, yet all of these things have happened to me.

You never know where life will take you.


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