Women Train Real Too!
Realistic martial arts training is what we specialize in at JKD Unlimited/ High Performance Mixed Martial Arts. Realistic because we get as close as we can to what a real street fight would be like and we make sure each and every technique has been tested under “stress” before we incorporate them into our curriculum. The test is performed in 2 steps: 1: we spend the time to drill the technique so we can acquire perfect form at slow speed with very little (or no) resistance.2: we “get in the water” and try the technique at full speed with full resistance. This means that both fighters do not know what is coming and do their best to prevent the other from getting the advantage. (our instructors do this so our students can take more time adapting to higher resistance levels)
Having explained this, I would like to relate a story:
A woman (let’s call her Mrs. J) called our school to inquire about classes. She had been training martial arts for about a year and was very happy with it. She just wanted to train more. After hesitating over the course of a few weeks, she finally made it to our Academy for a free trial class. Unfortunately, I was abroad at that time. At my return, I checked with my assistant on Mrs. J’s experience in class. I was told that Mrs. J was completely exhausted after just a few rounds of focus mitts and had to stop. It was evident that she was not used to working out at even a medium intensity. I found it odd since she had been training for a while already at her other school. I was very curious to meet this Mrs. J and find out how we could help her so I called and we set a lunch date. Her first question was: Why don’t you do Chi Sao and Hubad (highly structured “sensitivity” drills) in class? My answer was: “we don’t do it because you would never be doing this in a real fight. Somebody attacking me is not going to put his wrist on mine and do a drill! My attacker is going to hit me again and again as hard as he can until he gets what it is he wants: either what’s in my purse or what’s in my pants and that is what I have to be ready for.”
Women also have a very high chance of dealing with someone much bigger and stronger than them. Mrs. J, despite her training in Chi Sao and Hubad was unable to handle a focus mitts session of moderate intensity involving a low level of resistance. She even conceded her amazement at how hard her female training partner hit those mitts that night. If she couldn’t handle a training partner, how does she expect to handle a big strong maniac?
I am concerned for that woman and all of the other martial arts practitioners who practice dead patterns drills thinking that they’ll be able to use the same drills in a street situation. Her reaction to my passionate explanation: one of innocent denial. She claimed she understood about realistic training but that it was not what she was looking for. In her words, all she really wanted to learn is, “for example if someone attacked me with a knife, I want to just be able to think hard, you know with my Chi and deal with it like that instead of using this or that block.”
OH MY GOD!
I really hope that Mrs. J will never be attacked or she will get seriously hurt. Unfortunately I believe that her odds of being attacked are higher than mine. First she is completely unaware of realities and will probably unknowingly put herself in dangerous situations. Second her body language displays insecurity: she is not athletic at all and does not come off as a physically strong person, walks with very small steps, and head down. The perfect candidate for someone looking for easy prey. Third, she believes she can deal with pressure by ignoring it. She does not want to deal with it physically but only on a cerebral level. This means that she will not fight back if she were attacked. By the time she realizes her Chi has not knocked out her assailant, it will be too late.
I urge you to take a good look at how you train or if you have a daughter, a wife, a sister who trains, please let her read this article. Go check out that class she takes and objectively decide whether or not those techniques would work against a very dangerous attacker. Nowadays, you even read about “no contact” self defense seminars. How exactly are you supposed to learn to defend yourself without contact?
I admit that not everyone has the time and the natural inclination to do the kind of physical and hard training required to really become a proficient fighter. This does not mean that we should settle for inefficient techniques just because they are easier to do. I believe that the wrong sense of self-confidence that so many women acquire from training unrealistically puts them in more danger than a woman with no training whatsoever would face. Because someone who has not been training will let her fear help her make better judgment: she’ll park where there is light, she’ll have someone take her to her car at night. I’ve heard some women who take cardio Kickboxing boast about how they can “kick butt”. Those women are sometimes looking for an opportunity to test their “skills”.
The more I train, the more I spar, the more I get taken down to the mat, mounted on and punched in the helmet in class, the less I ever want to be in a fight. But if I had to fight, at least I know I’ve been as close to it as I could. In the years I’ve trained, I’ve gotten 200-pound guys off of me, got to their backs and choked them out while they were trying their best to submit me. I’ve been slapped in the face, kicked in the shin; I’ve pummeled my way out, I’ve defended takedowns and I’ve stood up after being taken down. I’ve acquired self-confidence because I kept going when it was tough, because I can now do things I never thought I could. Most of all because I’ve done it myself! I don’t take anybody’s word. Since I now have more experience, I also make sure it is as hard as possible in class so maybe it won’t feel too hard in real life. And you know what, I find this fun! I’m your typical woman, 5’3, small build. I cry at the movies and wear make up. I did it step by step, and with the proper coaching, I believe everyone willing, can do it too. I’ve heard too many stories of women who’d trained in traditional martial arts, black belt sometimes, who were raped and unable to do anything to fight back. You don’t know them because they’ve left their original schools too ashamed and angry to come back and warn you. Please don’t become one of those stories.
Train well, train hard, train real! You can do it.
Co-owner of Jeet Kune Do Unlimited.
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