Self Defence: Deciding in Advance

GKR Karate Self defence, boy punching, girl blocking

Every decision we make has enormous power. One decision can change our lives, taking us down a new path. I’m not just talking about words here. We have all muttered, “From now on, things will be different”, only a week later to find ourselves returning to our original habits. I’m talking about actual, deep-seeded decisions. The word ‘decision’ comes from the Latin ‘de’, meaning ‘from’, and ‘caedere’, meaning ‘to cut’. In other words, we commit to achieving a result and then cutting ourselves off from any other possibility.

Why People Procrastinate 

In our moments of decision, our destiny is being shaped. Because of this, many people fear to decide for fear of making the wrong decision. This leads to procrastination, which gets you nowhere. They live hoping that, at some point, their destiny will reveal itself to them somehow, enabling them to make the perfect decision. Have there been essential decisions you have put off for fear of making the wrong decision? The worst decision you can make is to decide to be indecisive. To idly sit and go nowhere for fear of taking the wrong path means living in limbo, waiting for something that will never come. We can only make sound decisions with sound information. Therefore, it is far better to make a decision, any decision, and act upon it. Even if it leads you down the wrong path, you will soon realise this and may turn around by making a new decision. So don’t procrastinate; make a decision today.

A Clouded Vision Leads To Indecision

The more specific our vision for our future, the easier the decision-making process becomes. The problem is that most people fear visualising their future because they fear failure. Could we take a karate example? A person would ‘like’ to become a black belt, but something inside them says, “You’re not good enough”. So they ‘go along for the ride’ to see where it takes them. People who are along for the ride in life are scared of failure, therefore afraid to commit and rarely achieve their goals. This reinforces their lack of self-belief and carries through to their next endeavour…a deadly cycle begins.

In contrast, the person who becomes a black belt and visualises themselves wearing one will likely commit and focus during training. This will result in their goals being achieved, and a positive cycle of self-belief begins. In the movie, ‘The Karate Kid’, Mr. Miyagi explains this to Daniel: “Either karate yes, or karate no. If karate guesses so, then squish just like grape.”

Making A Decision Is Paramount For Self-Defence 

The topic of self-defence and decision-making was the catalyst for this article. Still, it is necessary first to consolidate the importance of proper decision-making, or else this article might fall short. Most people in karate have pondered at some point what might happen if they find themselves in a real-life self-defence situation. The question that runs predominantly through their mind is, ‘Will my techniques hold up and disable an attacker?’ An equally important question is, ‘Will my belief system, morals and values hold up?’ Let me use an example; in most cases of rape, the woman admitted she knew what she should do to defend herself but refrained for fear of hurting her attacker. It may mystify you to read this, but when faced with the possibility of having actually to cause irreparable damage to another human being, we can all be hesitant. And in self-defence, hesitation can be critical.

In a Self-Defense article, martial arts instructor Jason Stanley wrote, “Have you ever stopped to consider how your beliefs can determine your fate in a self-defence situation? Have you ever wondered what you believe morally right or wrong might be the difference between being attacked and injured or staying safe? And deciding your beliefs before you’re threatened might be your most important choice ever?” It’s a compelling question: Could our belief system, not our training, be the weak link in self-defence capability?

There Is No Half-Defence 

When it comes to self-defence, there is no defence. It’s not a tournament where you can be down by 2 or 3 points and then make a comeback and snatch victory in the dying seconds. You can ill afford to be hit once. There is no grey area; it’s black or white. Act or procrastinate, you or them fully commit, or, as Mr Miyagi so eloquently puts it, “squish just like grape.”

There Are Many Complicated Emotions 

Remember, this is a serious topic, and many of you may feel my points are overkill. But if you read statistics on violence, you soon realise that when push comes to shove, our emotions, morals, and religious beliefs can easily suspend our actions, either briefly or altogether. I can assure you this is not overkill.

For animals, it’s simplistic. An animal does not stop considering, “Should I defend myself?” Ironically, however, for us and our highly developed intellect, we can become very good at ‘not choosing’. Our advanced mindset wants us to weigh all the pros and cons before acting. Then there are the moral implications and the ‘is this happening?’ emotional response. This takes time, and time is not a luxury we can afford. We are not buying a house; it is simple – them or you!

Author Jason Stanley posed the following questions. I do not wish to evoke uncomfortable images, but I would visualise each and then answer each with a TRUE or FALSE.

  • I feel comfortable hurting somebody else to survive
  • I would quite happily knock someone out during a threatening confrontation
  • I feel comfortable kicking someone in the groin with all my effort to prevent them from hurting me or someone I care about
  • I feel comfortable putting my finger in someone’s eye to protect myself.
  • I would do whatever it took to save my life, even if that meant taking a person’s life where it was necessary.

If you answered ALL TRUE, then that’s a great start. If you answered ALL FALSE, that too is excellent; at least you know where you stand and when the time comes, you know how you will act.

I’ll Shoot You First And Pray For You Later 

The questions above are similar to those faced by police officers. There are many devout Christians in the police force. People who live by the Ten Commandments and believe with their whole hearts that it is not right to harm another human being. Many pacifists and people do not endear to violence. Yet they all understand, have made an advanced decision and even visualised what they would do if faced with the prospect of protecting the life of another. For Christians, they can decide in advance, “If you try to hurt me or my family, I’ll shoot you first and pray for you later.” The point is not to argue about what seems right or wrong; know where you stand.

It’s Not An If Question, It’s A How Question 

Suppose you answered the test with a mixed bag of TRUE and FALSE or had difficulty visualising the TRUE scenarios. In that case, it implies you still must decide if you will protect yourself when seriously threatened. For you, your best method of self-defence is the ‘flight, not fight’ option, but this is not always available. So, it is something you need to get your head around. This is a complex issue because many people are willing to protect themselves to a point, such as a kick in the groin. But there is a line that, when standing at some, would have great difficulty crossing. The actual decision is not IF you’ll use your skills; it’s a matter of HOW you use them. When faced with a real-life confrontation, will you fight fire with water or fire with fire? And how much fire?

By Adrian Cowley

Related Articles

Self Defence Within The Law
Real Life Confrontation: Self Defence Beyond Technique 

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