Self Defense: The 'Martial Arts'Aspect

Martial arts training has been gaining popularity among all sections of people, especially the youths and women, for quite sometime in India, with the coaching centres in almost every city or town bustling with enthusiastic learners of various age groups, who are more than eager to grasp the ideas of how to throw a powerful kick or make a knockout punch at their opponents. Traditional martial arts like karate, kung fu and boxing are no doubt in high demand, while new entrants like Israeli krav maga, Thailand's muay thai, and Russian sambo are also gaining grounds fast among the young practitioners, who are open to explore new fronts and ready to go the extra miles to learn effective techniques.

"Oh my God, you are learning karate..!!" - that awestruck expression from friends and peers (when they come to know about your martial arts training) is something makes you feel class apart, and you may in your mind see yourself playing a Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan. While you have every right to be confident about your ability and sweltering training schedule, but have you ever wondered how they contribute to your real-time self defence capability..!!

There was a time long back when martial arts exponents used to spend years to harden their bodies and harvest strength to an extent to become nothing less than weapons in themselves. Those days are gone. Over the years, the idea of self defence, rooted in those traditions, has undergone enormous change with the advent of new techniques and counter-techniques.

In today's busy and sedentary urban life, martial arts training has been conceptualised as a fitness regime. But does it also prepare you to fight a real-time hostility or whether you should use martial skills to get out of such situations - that remains a matter of informed debate.

Ideally, experts say, it takes years of dedicated practice to master a technique that may help you counter an opponent, who may have a better physique, or be more than one in number. But to reach that point of expertise, while maintaining physical fitness is important, proper - most significantly, scientific - guidance by an experienced martial artist is extremely necessary. As the old proverb goes, "(perfect) practice makes you perfect".

There have been incidents, where martial arts skills have come handy in hostile situations, especially for women, who are often taken for granted as "easy targets". Martial arts training surely imparts a sense of confidence among women, but when to use them and how have always been a matter of fine judgement.

In this context, let me cite an incident reported in local media in West Bengal, where rape and sexual molestation are routine affairs at many nondescript pockets. Two drunken habitual offenders, who had decided to target a 16-year-old girl returning home alone in the evening, had to run for their lives after she put her karate training to use, punching on the faces and kicking them where it hurts the most.

Yes, such incidents underline why martial arts training - be it karate, boxing, or something else - is important for self defence. But as our gurus say, it is also important to know where to engage and where not to engage. After all, its better to avoid a situation than fighting it out.

By Diganta Biswas

(Brown Belt, Shito-Ryu Karate)

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