I am a Taekwondo Master (4th degree black belt), and have multiple high-ranking black belts in several other Asian arts (including sword), as well as kick-boxing, Muay Thai, combat JiuJitsu and extensive knife-training. TKD 5th degree for me would have been the following: attend occasional classes, and teach a little, plus a new form…that’s it; in other words, just “time in the trenches”, improving upon my existing skills, which should, of course, always be a priority. I opted out. Do not get me wrong, because I loved training in that art, and improved my kicking techniques like no other; however, “real street-survival skills”? Hardly. In fact, I know a guy that was under serious Taekwondo Olympic consideration, yet was hurt pretty badly in New York City, when he lipped off to the wrong person. No skilled street fighter is going to let you launch a spinning back-kick, or jump-spinning hook kick…that’s strictly for the movies.
Again, my martial arts resume is extensive, yet I have always known, from experience, that a real fight is chaos, and most martial arts schools do not train that, especially in this day and age of the “belt-factories” approach of many. I have given seminars where the owners/instructors were so out of touch with actual fighting that I wondered about their students’ chances of truly surviving an attack, knowing that these teachers were never even close to a genuine street battle. And, I am not talking about high school and college brawls, etc., where the stakes are relatively low; but, rather an assault from someone that has no apprehension or remorse, whatsoever, in damaging you greatly.
Choke defenses, especially, are a pet peeve of mine, and are, in many cases, taught in a “dream-world”. I know what it’s like to have a brute’s hands around my neck, trying to kill me, and it’s not pretty. I had marks on my throat for three weeks! Lightly touching your training partner may be the correct way to begin preparation, focusing technique and not alarming, but eventually it’s got to get as real as possible, while always prioritizing safety. We do not need to hurt each other in class, but must find some sort of actual attack “balance”.
Hell, I know ex-cons (one is a student of mine) that have never formally trained a day in their lives, yet would wipe the floor with most 6th degree black belts. A bull-rush/takedown, resulting in ground and pound and eventual head-slamming on the pavement will not be stopped by anything other than inflicting pain, quickly and precisely, to your assailant. If one does not replicate these scenarios, then one will be quite shocked with an actual assault. As said in an earlier blog, and empirically proven, “one out of ten of ALL humans will actually fight back!”
There are many arts, other than Krav Maga (my specialty), that can give one genuine “defense life-skills”, such as Jeet Kune Do, Yabe Ryu/Yang Ki Yin (Japanese) JiuJitsu, combat Muay Thai and Brazilian JiuJitsu, Savate, etc., but when all is said and done, it truly comes down to the instructor…someone that is experienced, flexible in approach, understands every single one of his students’ liabilities and assets, and realistic in concept.
I greatly respect any martial art that is taught expertly and with reverence; however, do not mistake some for actually providing you with the skills necessary to survive an attack, as you will sadly and quite possibly gravely be mistaken!