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Traditional Martial Arts and Self Defense?


Defining Self Defense

What Are You Really looking For?

Defining self defense - why focus on violent assault when it is low risk?

Death by Violence less than 1% Risk

Contact Combat Sports Risk Long Run Health

Heavy contact sports lead to ill health over long run

Well Studied Similar Group: NFL

Did you know that your risk of dying from a violent attack is less than 1%? Did you also know that your risk of dying by age 57 if you engage in heavy contact combat sports might be 7% vs. 1% for everyone else? Americans want a quick fix - just add water. Ultimately the objective is to gain the greatest benefit with minimum effort. This strategy is exactly what is taught in traditional martial arts. But as in traditional martial arts, a deep understanding is critical, or you risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak.

Lets take a closer look. People want to live long, healthy and happy lives. In traditional martial arts, self defense means to achieve precisely that - short run safety, long run health, peace and happiness. Both philosophy and an emphasis on improving health are part of the package. The approach works on all risks of dying. But if you strip out the philosophy and health benefits, you wind up only protecting yourself against the smallest risk (death by violent assault < 1%), while locking in long term health consequences with the most difficult exercise regime. Failure to understand the complete system of martial arts actually leads to minimum benefits with maximum effort. So in reality, the only way for the heavier contact combat systems to reverse the situation is to migrate towards the traditional martial arts system.


How Traditional Martial Arts Work

The stripped down combat approach may focus on techniques and heavy conditioning. But the philosophy of traditional martial arts focuses first on reducing the risk of ever being assaulted - for example, the instruction that "the best self defense is not being there." Reducing your own anger and building kindness in your day to day lifestyle, for example, can open a door to turn would be attackers into friends and make you happier in general.


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Some people believe there is a "best martial art" - coincidentally the one they practice. But what happens when this better short run security guarantees long run health problems? In addition, a 20 year old may not wish to suffer a serious concussion, or 60 year old woman is not going to train for an MMA bout, but that doesn't mean they can't face hostility with safety and confidence. Claiming MMA is the only legitimate training method sentences them to a lifetime of being the victim. Nothing could be more antithetical to the idea of building a safer world, which underlies all martial training. As they say, there is no best martial art, only a best martial art for you.

Then there is the emphasis on reducing injury and improving health. Tai chi is known for it's health benefits, and aikido teaches safe falling while it is designed as appropriate exercise across the age spectrum. The exercise also reduces the desire and propensity to become seriously overweight, as is roughly 70% of the population. This approach is well suited for most Americans as it avoids serious injury and health issues while providing healthy exercise for a lifetime.

So if you feel called to increase your sense of safety, health and confidence, you might consider traditional martial arts as an efficient approach offering a wide spectrum of benefits over a long period of time. In fact, achieving a similar assortment of benefits with only one practice is difficult to duplicate.

Keywords:Best Self Defense, Martial Arts, Aikido, Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Jiu Jitsu, Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Judo, Mixed Martial Arts, MMA