Self Defence and Martial Arts – What’s the difference?

A lot of people use the terms ‘self defence’ and ‘martial arts’ interchangeably. They have some overlap but are different things and should not be confused. A martial arts school can teach self defence, or it may ‘only’ teach martial arts.

Martial arts is the practice of physical techniques. These can vary greatly in focus. Super effective street realistic maneuvers, MMA (mixed martial arts made prominent by the Ultimate Fighting Championships); sparring (fighting for points or practice at full speed); and forms (patterns of movement to cement technique or for stylistic tradition).

Self Defence training is concerned with risk assessment and measures to minimize or eliminate that risk. The risk in this case is of being attacked. Risk minimization strategies include situation awareness, understanding the motivations and tactics of the attacker, how to circumvent the attacker’s behaviour, maintain distance and boundaries, choice speech to defuse the situation, pre-contact cues – and, of course, effective technique to escape and get home safely.

Obviously, smaller targets (potential victims) who appear weaker than the attacker will be more likely to be targeted. Women, teens, kids and older adults are all at increased risk compared to a large, strong looking adult male. It is even more important that these ‘at risk’ populations are pro-active in getting the right training to keep themselves safe.

In real-life emergency situations, defending yourself is not a sport. There will be no rules, no referee and no time-frame.
The assumption must be that the attacker is faster, stronger and much more aggressive. If they didn’t feel superior, stronger and faster, they wouldn’t attack. The strategies and tactics used must match the scenario.

That’s when realistic, scenario-based training will make the difference in improving your odds of avoiding or escaping the situation and getting home safely.

For more information, or to book into a self defence session, please contact Tim

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