I remember, as a child, many things. Two things that stood out (as it pertains to this article) were: (1) fighting wasn’t an option, at some point one had to do it; and (2) I wanted to learn kung-fu to help me fight and win. During that time there were serious concerns as to whether or not I would be seriously injured or worse. For example, I recall a time, at just sixteen years of age, when I was jumped by four adults in my friend’s grandmother’s front yard. I was left with a swollen eye, busted veins in my nose, bruised ribs, cut abdomen, and other injuries. During the fight, I recall asking myself if I would survive. The question had more to do with if they would stop before they killed me than if I would fight my way to survival. I knew I had lost.
That event shaped my view of learning martial arts, self defense and kung-fu. I knew, as the Chinese have said for generations, that if it wasn’t practical it was no good. So, I dedicated myself to proper learning, something I cannot say I had fully done in the past, and constantly sought real self-defense instruction.
But, during that time, I knew many of my colleagues (on the street) who disrespected martial artists. What they knew, that the martial artists they’d met didn’t, was what real combat on the street was. You see: These other martial artists weren’t learning how to defend themselves on the street. They were learning fight theories, exercises, drills, sports-competition, and the like. That made them less prepared for the street fight than my more formally trained street fighting friends were. (Yes. I called the ones who didn’t go to class formally trained. They were. They were learning as they fought on the street. Not someone else’s theories on fighting.)
This, also, taught me a lesson: If I wanted to be good at combat I had to learn what street fighting was and from those who did it best. So, I did. (This ultimately led to other bad experiences, but taught me a great deal – not that I’m advocating going around starting fights. My point is coming up shortly.)
Since those days, I’ve become friends with many schools’ instructors, all across the United States and the world. Some teach Wing Chun, like I do, while others teach other systems. And, I’ve learned a great deal about how martial arts is taught.
Here in the United States we have diluted the true intentions and principles and purposes of the martial arts for our sporting pleasure or for some self-esteem prompt. In the meantime, we have not told the truth about what is being taught to the person learning. It is not self-defense for combat, at least not in a street-applicable situation or life-or-death situation; consequently, the level of arrogance and disrespect seen in the UFC and boxing and other sporting venues gets carried into the life of the student via over-confidence, ignorance and, sometimes, foolishness.
If my experiences have taught me anything about real fighting, it is one shouldn’t be cocky. It’s as Abraham Lincoln said: “What kills the skunk is the publicity it gives itself.” And, if you want to empower your enemies, talk a lot of crap and let them see what you can do. They’ll measure you up; then, they’ll whip you into the dirt.
The problem with martial arts schools today is that many of the instructors don’t have street fighting experience. They don’t know what real combat is. Maybe they did well in an amateur kickboxing or MMA (mixed martial arts) sporting venue, but they’ve never stepped away from the rules and referees. They don’t know what it’s like to fight with no rules and no one there to enforce those . . . . Well, there are no rules.
Instead, many instructors today teach principles of street fighting, like theories; consequently, they cannot correct improper behavior in their students for the cultivation of behavior for such events. (And, this goes beyond building physical body. As all of us who’ve aged and matured know: The body gets old and we lose ability to behave the way we did when we were teenagers.) It reminds me of something one of my previous instructors taught me: “A master of kung-fu knows how to avoid conflict, not just end it when its forced upon his life.” How are they to teach these students to avoid something they are unfamiliar and cannot understand or recognize?
It’s time the martial arts industry got back to reality. The consequences of self-delusions are too great.
If you believe like I do, then the Yost Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy (in Terre Haute, Indiana) is the place for you. Our instructors have real-life experience. Yes. That means they’ve had to use what they teach. (Ask how many others have had to do the same in more than one situation.) And, they teach to help each student become their best. We don’t boast trophies or participation awards or medals. Those are given in sporting events, and won’t be there on the street when you have to defend yourself or your family. We don’t go around in goofy looking uniforms. Why practice in something you’ll never wear? We teach honest, practical, effective and efficient self-defense to those who want to put the work in to learn it. That is: Self-defense you can do past your forties. Self-defense that is intended to defend you on the street. Self-defense that deals with the truth. . . .
Just as an additional thought:
I recall meeting a “martial artist” who fought in MMA (in his case: Mixed-up Male Athlete) tournaments. He was inquiring about Wing Chun. After a short demonstration, he was shocked to see throat strikes, and said:
You can’t just go to the throat like that!
Who makes that determination? I mean: How many street fights have you been in where all parties agreed to rules, environment, use of weapons, and appointed an officer to enforce those rules?
I presented this guy a situation and direct question: If you’re with your wife when two or three guys attack, are you going to stand there and tell me you’re going to play patty-cake with them, or are you going to do whatever you have to do to end each one and make sure your wife gets away okay?
Yeah. I said patty-cake. Just watch boxing or kickboxing or MMA events or even some street fights on YouTube, and notice how many closed fist punches people take. Do you think if two or three guys are wanting to attack you and your wife that they’ll wait for one to get beat before the other one jumps in? I hope you don’t.
The truth is: You have to be able and willing to do what it takes to end the situation, so you and your wife (and if your kids are there) can go home. And, let’s get something straight right now: The will don’t equal the ability. It’s a variable in the equation. Ability is being able to do what you intend to do the moment you intend to do it. (Period emphasized!) If you don’t train your body and mind to fight, you won’t be ready to fight when the situation is forced upon you.
Empower yourself to life!™
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