Rules are for the Ring, Not the Street – Sparring is not self-defense.

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As martial artists we are disciplined; we follow rules; and we respect our opponents. When we spar, we bow to each other and to our teachers, then we fight within the rules given. We do not gouge eyes, fully hyperextend joints, break bones or otherwise disable our opponents. We go into the ring with the confidence that our opponent will show us the same respect and restraint. This is the world we train in. Even in “street defense” schools we do not disable our opponents in class. We hold back.

We cannot expect to receive this respect on the street. If we get knocked down, we will not be offered a hand up. The knife will not be made of rubber. The gun will be real, not a training blue/red gun. The opponent does not have your interests in mind. There are no rules and no respect. This can be a tough arena for the respectful martial artist to perform in.

We focus on developing skills. These skills if used properly can help defend us. We practice these skills on training partners that we don’t want to hurt. Our attack and defense practice is staged or only partially spontaneous. We need to understand that the way we practice with partners is not enough force to defend ourselves. We need to go beyond the force we use in practice. The way to do this is to change our attitude. When we are defending ourselves, we need to disregard the safety of our opponent. We need to be ready to injure our opponent and we have to expect that they will be trying to injure us. To safely survive a street altercation, we need to break the rules we normally follow when we practice.

We should also think about everyday items we can use as weapons, such as, keys, flashlights, purses or tactical pens and umbrellas. Traditional weapons are frowned upon in many of the places we need to travel so we need to be creative when we defend ourselves. REMEMBER – THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FAIR FIGHT.

As we have discussed before we should:
1. Avoid dangerous situations. If you can’t avoid
2. Deescalate the conflict. If you can’t
3. Get away. And only as a last resort
4. Defend then escape.

I hope you all have a safe, healthy and prosperous 2016.
Happy New Year.

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