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Everyone Needs Self-Defense

In the martial arts world, self-defense is usually tied to ideas like bully prevention or women’s self-defense. While these groups of people can certainly benefit from self-defense training, it can indirectly suggest that only someone small or not-exceptionally strong needs martial arts in their lives.

Self-defense is for everyone—big, small, young, old, weak, strong, male, female, whatever. If you look at self-defense purely through the lens of winning a fight, you are missing the bigger picture:

1. Bully prevention is just as much about learning to defend oneself as it is about injecting positive influences into the community, for children and adults. Teaching people to stand up for themselves verbally or physically is important, but that’s treating the symptom of bullying rather than bullying itself. In teaching self-defense, we can help to stop bullying from happening in the first place. Training alongside a diverse group of individuals can help defuse the respect-issues that eventually lead to bullying, teaching everyone in a community to value the things that make us different rather than to fear or attack them.

2. Training in a controlled environment helps you to appreciate just how fragile the human body can be. We are not built actually built for fighting, and when you can see just how easily a fight can go the wrong way your general level of aggression is likely to lower. You will be slower to anger, and even though you are a more skilled fighter, your training will actually make you more likely to walk away from a confrontation than to escalate it.

3. You might be strong and athletic, but there is always someone bigger and stronger, making technique just as critical for you as it is for everyone else. At the same time, the people you care about might not have the same physical gifts as you. Your willingness to train could motivate them to train, and the behaviors that you model to the people that look up to you—friends, family, spouses, sons, daughters—can help to keep them safe as well. If your children see you being humble and training hard, you are showing them a path to conflict resolution that could keep them out of harm’s way.

4. You learn just as much from your training partners as you do from your instructors. Working out alongside people that came from entirely different contexts can teach you a lot about not only martial arts but about your community and the world at large. At any given time, you could be training next to a mother, a father, a doctor, a lawyer, a writer, a construction worker, a serviceman or woman, or any other profession that you can think of. This broadens the martial arts experience beyond technique to understanding the role that self-defense plays in nearly anyone’s life.

Self-defense truly is for everyone, and that means you too. So get on the mat and train!

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