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Why Learn Self Defence? //

​May 8, 2019

Written by Richard Block

I was walking through the city with my girlfriend very late one Saturday night. It was dark and the usual boisterous party goers were still out in force. 

 

I remember holding my girlfriend's hand, as we walked down the street, past people on their way to their next night club or the taxi rank to catch a ride home.

 

Suddenly, two people broke away from the crowd. They looked like normal people, a man and a woman, out on the town celebrating another warm Canberra evening but they had taken an interest in us and rapidly closed the distance.

 

My girlfriend froze, uncertain what to expect. I felt her panic and concern as she gripped my hand tighter and as I came to a stop, she took a half step behind me.

 

I had, of course, noticed the pair's strange behaviour and their sudden deviation towards us. I didn't recognise them but then they might have been friends of my girlfriend. Although that wouldn't have explained her alarmed reaction. 

 

Their intentions were unclear but I carefully watched their movements as the man made his way towards me. As he got within a few steps, he threw his arms out in an embrace and greeted me in that drunken way people do when they've had too much to drink and everyone has become their best friend.

 

Moments before, I had noticed the girl's look of embarrassment as she realised her boyfriend was about to make a fool of himself, probably not for the first time that evening.

 

Having carefully watched the man and observed the girl’s reactions, as well as having noted that everything else on the street seemed normal, I judged that there was no threat and accepted the enthusiastic embrace of the reveller.

 

In the few seconds leading up to that moment, I was calm, relaxed and ready, sure that whatever was about to happen I could respond to without hesitation and with confidence.

 

This is the gift my martial arts teacher gave me - Tranquility - in the face of potential adversity.

 

“Trust in the art” he would say. “Trust in the training” he would add. “They are what will protect you when you need it”.

 

I never fully understood what he meant until that warm Canberra evening. After years of training the art was there and ready. I could feel it.

 

“It's like a warm coat” my teacher would say. “In summer you put it away, but in winter when you need it, it will be there for you to take out and put on”. 

 

It's that coat I strive to give to my students. That gift that my teacher gave to me and his teacher before him.

 

Why do we learn self defence?

 

It's so we can live in peace, every single day. With the comfort of knowing that the coat is there, ready to be put on if we ever need it.