I was introduced to martial arts training back in 1981, when I was 11 years old. After I had gotten attacked on the street by 3 teenage boys. They approached me when I was walking home from school, laughing and pointing at me. I kept my head down, just trying to walk on by. They asked me if I wanted a cigarette and then each one of them flicked their lit cigarettes at my face, each one hitting me right in the face. Then one of them punched me in the jaw. I slammed up against a building and dropped to the sidewalk. I woke up seeing them running across the street.
As I made my way home, walking through the alley, one of the boys was there; believe it or not, because of the neighborhood I grew up in, I was already aware of the need for self-defense. I had in my pocket a rock in a sock. I pulled it out as the boy approached. He threatened to stab me with his knife, which I presumed he had on him somewhere. At that point, a mechanic from a garage yelled at the boy to leave me alone. The boy went on his way and so did I.
I went home and told my Mom. She took me to the police station and the police took my statement but told us it would be unlikely they’d catch those boys.
My Mom signed me up for Goju Ryu Karate classes at the local community center. The classes were cheap and full of kids. I took to the training immediately.
My point in telling this story is that it illustrates in a pretty clear way why learning self-defense is important. You really don’t know when you might be attacked. You don’t have to be paranoid, but it pays to be prepared.
So, obviously it is important to learn self-defense because of the existence of violence and the unexpected nature of it. It could happen at any time. Of course, it pays to take precautions in terms of doing some physical training, it is also advisable to take precautions in terms of awareness; the way you carry yourself, where you go, paying attention to your environment.
In fact, all of these factors are reasons why you should train in self-defense.
You carry yourself differently when you are confident. When you know you can protect yourself, you are confident. When a predator sees someone who is confident, head up and watchful, they are less likely to attack you. But, of course, confidence is something that aids you in other aspects of your life; at job interviews, with your family, when you meet new people, when you meet a boy or girl. My head was down and I was just trying to avoid those bullies when I was a kid and that was one of my main mistakes. A predator will always take advantage of weakness. They look for it.
Chris and Karen Highland, Flickr. Some rights reserved.
Because training focuses on awareness, you become more aware from training. You have to pay attention to your own body and movement, what you are doing and what you are being taught, and you have to be aware of the other guy’s position and movement. You should be aware of your surroundings at all times. You have to focus to train or else you never learn.
When I was attacked as a kid, I did see it coming but didn’t have faith in my own awareness and instincts. Actually, before I even crossed the street to where those boys were, I could see them pointing and laughing and looking my way; I sensed the danger but walked right into it. Now I know better.
Rebecca Johnson, Wichita Police Department patrol officer and department defensive tactics instructor, demonstrates self-defense maneuvers during a women’s self defense class June 27, 2013, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. Johnson and other presenters stressed the importance of situational awareness and preparedness and to maintain a survival mentality in the instance of assault. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Laura L. Valentine)
It is one of the ultimate forms of responsibility, to take care of your own protection and the protection of your loved ones. After all, it is liable to be, and often is, necessary. The police are not necessarily going to be there for you and neither will anyone else. If you’ve ever experienced a dangerous situation, you will know this is true. Certainly my experience at 11 years of age taught me that I couldn’t rely on my parents, the police or even the people on the street. You are better off learning how to defend yourself and having whatever it is that you need on-hand to keep yourself safe from predators.
So, self-defense training is important because it is necessary in protecting you against unpredictable violence, it improves awareness and gives you confidence. And all of these are necessary for you to be safe.
In 1981, at the age of 11, I began training in Goju Ryu Karate at a local community center on the Central Coast of California. I trained there for about a year. In 1984, my family moved to Northern California, where I began training in Kenpo Karate under Professor Charles "Chuck" Epperson. I trained at Professor Epperson's dojo for about a year. I left the dojo, but returned in 1994. I earned ranks up through second-degree black belt under Chuck Epperson. I tested for brown and black belts in front of Master Richard "Huk" Planas, first-generation Ed Parker Kenpo black belt. I taught classes at Professor Epperson's dojo from 1998 to 2002. I have also taught private lessons for friends and family. I have training in Doce Pares Eskrima under Charles Epperson and have attended seminars by Master Anthony Kleeman and Grandmaster Cacoy Canete. I have also trained in DeCuerdas Eskrima under Professor James Muro. In addition to my martial arts training, I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, have worked in the Human Services field since 1996, and currently spend most of my time writing web articles.