Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's More than Just Self-Defense

(for my most excellent martial-arts-teaching friends and colleagues)

Sometimes I feel that we are limiting our focus by assuming that we are teaching single persons being attacked. The term "self-defense" fosters this preconception. In reality, a student who is isolated operates from a terrible disadvantage. How often have we heard, "If only someone had just stood up for her? If only someone had said something?"  

I believe that martial arts training can help students become that someone. Someone brave enough to tell a bully to stop. Brave enough to say, "Yeah, he's gay, and he's my friend, too. Got a problem with that?" Once a bully realizes the numbers are against him, he will usually back down. 

I believe that teaching one conscientious and capable student can make life safer and maybe a little easier for five. Self-defense is a last resort, when one is alone. 

Martial arts training does more than give students the confidence to defend themselves. It gives them the confidence to defend what is right. After every practice, I tell my students not only to look out for themselves, but to look out for their friends, and to have each other's backs. The bonds we make in the dojo protect us outside the dojo.