“I am thinking of taking up a martial art, and I have all kinds of options close by including grappling, kung fu, tae kwon do, etc. I am interested in actually being able to defend myself rather than just fitness. Any suggestions?”
Questions like this often spark heated debates between experts of various stripes all eager to validate their style or method of training. The war of words surrounding the topic are ongoing, pointless, and lamer than a bad kung fu movie.
Personal defense begins long before any physical violence occurs. The Japanese have a concept called zanshin: “dominating awareness.” Using our capability, coupled with situational awareness, we can dominate our immediate surroundings with our presence. Ideally we have created too many variables for villains to deal with. Our comportment, vigilance, and confidence should send evil doers in search of another target. This capability is initiated by engaging that organ between your ears long before filling your fist with steel. Shop around before joining any particular dojo, club, or self defense school. Make sure they are providing the product you want. Owning a black belt never saved anyone from a good beating.
Despite any practical advice I may offer, questions will continue to be asked: but what is the best martial art to train in? What’s your favorite technique? How do you counter the (fill in the blank) move? Who would win, a samurai or a knight?
For the sake of those who feel these important questions must be addressed, I will do my level best to deliver satisfactory answers based on my experience.
Q: What’s your favorite technique?
A: Accurate shot placement.
Q: What is the best kind of weapon to carry?
A: A radio handset with an artillery battery at the other end. If you don’t think that’s martial arts then you are sadly mistaken.
Q: Is the ‘Death Touch’ a real thing?
A: Yes, but we generally refer to it as steady trigger control.
Q: How do you counter the (fill in the blank)?
A: Do not let bad guys get close enough to do (fill in the blank). How? The best counter I know is the Flamethrower Technique. There is also the Runaway Technique. I think you get the idea.
Q: Who would win, a samurai or a knight?
A: A Marine and his rifle.
Q: What’s the best martial art to train in?
A: This was best answered by my colleague, George H. Bristol. He once remarked after a particularly intense live blade bayonet demonstration that all martial arts are good, it just depended on what you wanted out of it. He followed this by stating Marines train for victory on the battlefield.
With victory in mind I will now deliver a period of instruction that will make you, yes YOU, a hand to hand combat war machine in five easy steps. True believers, let me introduce you to the fighting secrets of Irish Judo…
Combative Secrets of Irish Judo:
Step One: Get a brick.
Step Two: Get a sock.
Step Three: Place the brick into the sock.
Step Four: Tie a knot in the sock.
You will notice that the simulated Bad Guy has been struck from behind with a vicious Irish Judo Chop. In mainstream martial arts this is called UNFAIR. On the battlefield this is called VICTORY. In Irish Judo this is known as the HE WAS LIKE THIS WHEN I GOT HERE technique.
Congratulations, you have completed the training. You are now an expert in Irish Judo and all it entails.
Naysayers may remark, “Yeah, well if you had to get in the ring with the heavyweight champion of Ultimate Knuckledragger Championship, you’d get your butt kicked off.” This is without a doubt true. The difference is, I wouldn’t enter the ring just to have some bruiser batter my face with his lunch pail sized fists. If I did, it is more likely I’d bury the nearest fire axe in his forehead. Though I feel having familiarity with open handed fighting is wise, I assume there is a reason ancient man fashioned spears and eventually invented gunpowder. Thus, my preference is for weapons based training of all kinds.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Ultimate Knuckledragger Championship as much as anyone. It meets all my minimum requirements in regards to entertainment, but as a means of modern combative engagement, not so much. Irish Judo, on the other hand, is a time proven method of conflict resolution.
WARNING: Do NOT try any of this at home. The personnel depicted in the above photos are TRAINED EXPERTS in the most lethal and esoteric combat systems known to man. Just looking at these pictures has taken a good 45 minutes off your lifespan.
No Irish were hurt during production of the demonstrations depicted above.
The author is a 2d Degree Black Belt Instructor Trainer in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program and holds a 10th Degree Black Sock in Irish Judo. He prefers the bayonet to the spinning back fist.