The Scope and Limits of Self-defense Seminars

Many people turn to martial arts to learn how to defend themselves.

Martial arts like aikido, jujitsu, and karate certainly can teach self-defense. Most traditional martial arts that did not originate as battlefield skills (like kendo, the Japanese way of the sword) began as self-defense methods (like karate).

Most martial arts, however, have evolved to address many other needs—athletic competition, physical fitness, and personal and spiritual growth among them. All of those components of modern martial arts can work together to enhance self-defense skills.

You will encounter key differences between pure self-defense skills and martial arts as most people practice them. Physical-fitness training, for example, may not interest people who simply want to learn self-defense skills. While many, if not all, techniques of combat sports overlap with those employed in self-defense, their goals and objectives differ substantially.

Furthermore, the more intricate martial arts skills can take more time and effort to learn than many people want to spend.

Finally, most martial arts classes tend to focus on the physical side of self-defense—how to punch, kick, and block, for example. Those important skills, however, constitute a small portion of self-defense training—and the last resort to which a person should turn.

Some people may prefer a short, holistic self-defense seminar, which may address topics that many traditional martial arts schools ignore.

  • Situational awareness: Noticing when events start to turn ugly and you need to leave
  • De-escalation techniques: Knowing how to talk a potential assailant down when he becomes aggressive or dangerous
  • Threat recognition: Knowing when a problem has reached a point where you need to use force to ensure your safety or someone else’s
  • Escape: Learning when, how, and where to best reach a safe place and contact the police for help

A person may learn these tactics along with extremely simple, easy-to-master, effective physical techniques in self-defense classes.

On the other hand, one-off self-defense classes don’t offer the ongoing development and perfection or expansion of technique that traditional Asian martial arts like aikido, jujitsu, or karate would teach.

Self-defense seminars may also focus too much on stranger assaults—for example, how a woman can defend against a man who attacks her in a parking lot—when most assault survivors know their assailants.

At the physical technique level, however, a punch or kick works just as well against a stranger as it would against:

  • Family
  • Coaches
  • Teachers
  • Clergy
  • Classmates
  • Dates

The best way to make these techniques work is to drill them regularly, perfecting them with continual practice, until they become second nature. Along the way, students in ongoing martial arts classes will develop the strength and conditioning to make self-defense techniques more effective.

We recognize, however, that not everyone wants to join a martial arts class or pursue all the other benefits that may come with one.

Thus, our Carbondale Park District martial arts instructors are happy to hold seminars for anyone who wants to go through shorter programs focused on self-defense. We would urge anyone who goes through our self-defense seminars, or those other instructors hold, to periodically refresh their skills, something we’re happy to do for them.

If you belong to a group or organization that would like self-defense training, please contact the Carbondale Park District for more information at (618) 549-4222. We are happy to accommodate people of nearly all ages and skill levels.