Editor note: This article was written by Agatha Marrama back in 2012. I republished it here because it makes some good points about self-defense. Effective self-defense starts with a “Mind-Set.” A self-defense “Mind-Set” can be developed regardless of your age or physical condition or limitations.
A friend of mine related this story to me once. He was out walking late one night to buy stuff at a nearby convenience store. He was approached by a man from the dark side of the street. The thief demanded money from him and he was frozen on the spot. He reached for his pocket and gave the man all his cash. It was good that he was just carrying enough money for the stuff he needed from the store. This may seem like a pretty ordinary story. But you know what the catch is? He is a brown belt in Taekwondo.
The story shocked me more than usual because I know my friend is a pretty good martial artist. He is often dubbed as “talented” by his colleagues and superiors. What’s wrong with that story? In theory, he could have wasted the thief in no time because he clearly had no weapon with him. According to him, he didn’t know what to do. He knew how he could subdue such assault but he just didn’t know what to do at that moment.
This kind of scenario brings back the age-old debate of the false sense of security that learning martial arts give us. Does learning how to throw, punch, kick and counter be enough to defend yourself when that time comes? Does winning in the dojo or the gym enough to guarantee safety?
I am pretty sure that the stalwarts in martial arts will agree with me on this one – The gym is nothing compared to the streets. Practice will do you good in sparring but it will never be enough for a real life situation. What you need is mental training. In the gym, you are taught that to do a certain move, you need to remember some steps in order to complete a move. But in a highly tense situation, your mind will be clouded if you are not mentally strong. In simple terms, you lose whatever you have learned.
So how do you solve this problem? Train your mind. Remember that physical training is one thing and mental training is another. One can be very good with the moves and the technique but lack the mental preparedness to use in real combat. If you do succeed in training your mind and body at the same time, you can use your skills anytime you want to. But do not forget that not every battle should be fought with muscles and brawn. You also need to discern when you have to fight and when you just have to give.