“Then, in the hearing of all the people, He said to His disciples, ‘Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” Luke 20:45-47
Jesus warned His followers of something they saw, but couldn’t see. People saw the religious scribes walking around in their long robes, basking in the attention they received in the marketplaces, synagogues and feasts. Jesus, being God, saw something else. He saw the greed and hypocrisy of their hearts and minds and how dangerous they were to the spiritual health and wellbeing of God’s people. Jesus saw the futility of their religious practices. Because Jesus could ‘see’ what His followers could not see, He warned them to ‘beware.’
Martial arts instructors do the same thing for their students. We ‘see’ the many dangers that face men and women, boys and girls. We have a saying in Grace Martial Arts about these dangers – “You can be attacked anywhere at anytime by anyone.”
No matter what ‘style’ of martial arts you practice, the fundamental elements of self defense are basically the same. We’ll begin with how to train to ‘Beware, Be Ready, Be Quick.’ We begin with Beware.
One definition of ‘beware’ is: be cautious and alert to danger. Another is: be on your guard.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:9
You and I may not see the devil, but he’s around and he’s up to no good.
The same is true about people in this world who want what you have and are willing to hurt you for it. That’s why we learn self defense. Many of us learn martial arts because of the ‘art,’ but we learn self defense because we want to be safe.
Being ‘aware’ does not mean being ‘afraid.’ In fact, we trade ‘fear’ for ‘faith.’ That faith is in our training. How do we train to be aware? It’s the same methodology for training in any martial technique. We learn what to do, how to do it, when to do it, where to do it and why we do it.
Awareness in self defense means staying sharp, keeping every God-given ‘sense’ awake to potential danger. That includes sight and sound, taste, touch and smell. It’s similar to how we teach young children to beware of dangerous situations. We teach them to look both ways before they cross the street, listen to what we tell them, taste hot food carefully, hold our hand at the mall and don’t let go, and run outside if they smell smoke in the house.
Look around the next time you’re in a public place and think about what you see people doing. Where is their ‘focus’? Are they staying vigilant to know who is watching them? Who is getting closer to them? Who is about to attack them? Or are they focused on their friends or their music player, smart phone, tablet or laptop? Children, teens and adults must be vigilant in public all the time. We don’t know who may be targeting us and when they might attack us, unless we practice ‘danger awareness.’ Take your students through some of these basic ‘awareness’ scenarios to help them begin thinking ‘defensively.’
- Leaving their house
- Walking to school or a friend’s house
- Getting in and out of a car
- Walking in a parking lot toward a store
- Walking in a mall from store to store
- Shopping inside a store
- Purchasing items in a store
- Leaving the store to talk back to their car
- Eating with family or friends at a restaurant
- Standing in line at a movie or concert
- Walking from one building to another
- Getting in and out of an elevator
- Riding an escalator at the mall
- Climbing stairs and seeing or hearing another person above or below you
The number and types of ‘danger awareness’ scenarios you can go through with your students is almost limitless. Make them as real as you can while helping your students enjoy the learning experience. Learning how to deal with a ‘scary’ situation doesn’t have to be scary.
The ‘primary goal’ in self-defense training is to help students develop confidence in their ability to live safely and defend themselves honorably, efficiently and effectively.
Once we learn a martial technique and ‘how’ to do it, is that it? Of course not. We ‘practice’ that technique over and over again until we could literally do it in our sleep. We perfect it because that technique may be the one that will save our life someday in a real-life attack.
How do we train our students in danger awareness? I play a game with students called ‘What If?’ It’s a scenario-based defense game where students share about a dangerous situation that bothers them. ‘What if’ this happened? What could we do?
We play the game of ‘What If?’ in four stages:
- How could we avoid the dangerous situation by using awareness skills? (e.g. knowing dangers associated with the location and time of day)
- How can we escape from the dangerous situation and where would we go? (e.g. sensing something bad is about to happen and moving quickly toward a safe place or safe adult)
- If we can’t escape, how do we face the dangerous situation? (e.g. passive and aggressive positioning)
- How do we deal with the dangerous situation efficiently and effectively in less than 5 seconds? (e.g. blocking, striking, throwing, escaping)
It’s a game, so we have some fun with it at first. Younger children enjoy running away from the ‘bad’ people and toward their parents or other adults in the dojo. Older children enjoy the contact aspect of being grabbed/pushed/pulled and getting away from the attacker quickly with an evasion/escape technique. Teens and adults find satisfaction in being able to block/punch/kick/throw an opponent with ‘stun and run’ techniques.
After a little bit of fun, we get down to the business of training in how to perform the techniques we just learned to gain Power, Speed and Accuracy (PSA) in each movement. We also teach them basic martial techniques of yielding, clearing, contacting, controlling and countering that include folding, unfolding and rapid striking to ‘steal’ the attacker’s strength and ‘seize control’ of the situation. We teach ‘off-balancing and redirecting’ to remove the attacker away from his or her target – us.
Blocking and countering are done slowly at first to focus on power and accuracy, then done incrementally faster to build speed while controlling power and accuracy. Slowness at first is also helpful for partners so everyone is safe during training. Off-balancing and redirecting (throwing down, throwing away) is done slowly at first to focus on blending with the attacker, off-balancing them and redirecting their energy while changing the height, width and depth of the attacker through the fluidity and precision of the movement.
More about the style of “whatever works” in our next post.
We invite you and your family to become part of a Christian Martial Arts program.
If you would like more information about Grace Martial Arts and Karate For Christ International, please contact Sensei Mark McGee at email@example.com.
Teaching Children How To Be Healthy And Safe
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