So you want to learn to defend yourself. But what do you call success? You may survive an assault, but at the cost of sustaining debilitating injuries in training, an early death or fending off a jail sentence for excessive use of force? Crucial question: is it possible to learn self defense without any collateral damage? That is what most people really want.
Surprisingly, the solution to this very modern problem is addressed in practices that are sometimes thousands of years old: traditional martial arts. Actually, if you think about it, one should not be surprised at all. Human beings have always wanted to protect themselves against an attack, against illness and injury, and clearly minimize harm to others in the process. Traditional martial arts are practices that have been perfected over thousands of years to offer these comprehensive benefits.
Some current self defense systems don't offer the mental discipline of traditional martial arts, and focus on how to work with the inevitable adrenaline rush. But thousands of years ago in sword battles when death can occur at any instant, they found adrenaline reduces visibility and accuracy and leads to immediate death. In addition, long run health was impaired, injuries in training increased and over-reactions became the norm. Collateral damage increased. Mental discipline to overcome all fears is the only way.
The founder of Aikido, for example, expressed this in his philosophy with one simple statement. He realized that "the true path of the warrior is love." While that may sound naive, understand that it comes from decades of hard training and facing the worst forms of violence from skilled opponents. Unlike the champions of MMA, he never lost, but often played with other top martial artists of his day like children. AFTER facing these challenges, he understood what really worked in self defense.
Founder of Aikido vs. 7 Attackers
Think about it. When actions are based on love rather than fear, the body relaxes. Less adrenaline, avoiding harm to your training partners and eliminating overexertion all lead to improved health for yourself and your training partner. When self defense on the street begins with fully aware and street savvy love, more violence is avoided, which is the best outcome. When violence does occur in the absence of adrenaline, unnecessary force is far less likely to result. The collateral damage is eliminated.
In addition to self defense, health and peace, there are other side effects of traditional martial arts. For example, greater joy in life, more effectiveness in everything you do, being recognized as an upstanding member of society, focus, discipline, patience and perseverance, etc. Traditional martial arts offer a wonderful assortment of benefits in a tightly woven package. Other approaches that stripped out the philosophy and emphasis on health would do well to reintroduce them into their practice.