27 July 2010

The Value of Model Self-Defence

I posted a part of my post “I Don’t Like Your Self-Defence” on the eSAITF-forum the other day. One member (Carl, a student from ATC) responded and made me realise that my post could be somewhat misleading – it could suggest that Model Sparring type self-defence training does not contribute to self-defence training at all. Carl pointed out that this type of training, let’s call it “Model Self-Defence,” is useful for teaching certain principles and instilling good habits. I agree.

There was a time that I did not teach Model Self-Defence at all. What I found was something quite interesting; some of the students, even though they understood the principles, when suddenly confronted with the real life scenarios only, without the Model Self-Defence training as a prelude, did not know how to react.

This made me realise a number of things: Merely understanding the principles is not enough as many students (especially beginners), do not know how to manifest those principles in practical, creative ways. Although they have the head knowledge, this does not naturally manifest in body knowledge; i.e. reflexive bodily responses. They first have to think about the principles. What Model Defence teach them, as Carl pointed out, are certain habits, certain stock responses that they do not have to think about – mere reflexive motions that occurs because of the good habits that were instilled in them through Model Self-Defence practise.

Someone with years of training, whose body acts reflexively, need not be stifled by such stock responses. They have the kinaesthetic ability to react to different scenarios and situations in creative ways. Other people, without the years of training, do not have that kinaesthetic sensibility, and for them Model Self-Defence training is crucial to instil instinctive responses to certain situation. It is here that the responsibility of the teacher comes in to play. The teacher should ensure that the types of situations are reflective of realistic violent encounters. To fall back onto the illustration in my previous post – the scenarios should be realistic: Not merely a wrist grab, but a grab immediately followed by a strike.

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