Within miltary training, there is a saying that in order to be effective, a unit (from the individual serviceman/woman up to the largest units) must be able to shoot, move and communicate.
Translating this saying to civilian self defense training isn’t too hard IMO.
Shooting: for civilian translation this should probably be changed to offensive skills such as striking, grappling, throwing…all the way up to and including firearms training if applicable.
Moving: footwork, health/fitness/flexibility, running, vehicle driving, horsemanship, motor bikes, cycling, roller blading, land navigation, GPS tools,… cuz hey you never know.
Communicating: to borrow from NYS English standards; the ability to read/write/listen and speak for information and understanding, literary response and analysis, evaluation, and social interaction. Simply put, can you deliver and recieve messages effectively from a variety of sources – people, media, instruction…including non verbal ques.
As a self defense oriented martial artist, I tend to consider these categories of skills more than what system of martial arts when I think about training/preparation for realistic situations. I see the standard floor training/martial arts program stuff as an important component to self defense, but I don’t think it is the ONLY venue that should be explored for self defense training.
As it is packaged today, “Martial Arts” training is a pretty narrow field of kicking/punching/grappling/non ballistic weapon styles in some combination. I would consider a defensive driving course ‘martial arts’ training because it teaches driving tactics that improve safety. I would consider firearms training – self defense type – as ‘martial arts’. I would also consider a psych course or communication class as martial arts because they can equip you with tools and skills that help read and react more effectively to people on a daily basis as well as in a crisis situation.
I have been accused of having a ‘cop’ mentallity about self defense, and I admit freely to its truth. There are tons of good things to be learned from the standard “martial arts” training as it exists today. But there is more to realistic self defense than just kicking and punching. Since my goal is self defense and not ‘martial art’ mastery, my view is a little different than others. It is purely a personal view and not something anyone else has to agree to.
I think much of this topic has to do with training and expectations. Folks like what they are doing and are proud of it. They know that what they do will work for things they have trained for – but don’t really move out of that comfort zone too far.
Let’s face it, civilians, are enthusiasts/hobbyists and not ‘professional martial artists’ for the most part. Their lives (professional development/promotion/pay increases, survival….) don’t depend on the training. Because of that, there are usually motivations other than self defense that are the prime motivators in training. Whether it is the self esteem, fitness, pride, social interaction, belonging to a special group, cultural exposure, philosophy…..what ever, the first and foremost inspiration is not always self defense.
Since my first and primary motivation is self defense (and since the most well rounded ‘martial artists’ I have known have been ‘professionals’), my training and mentallity is going to be similar to those folks.
Martial arts training that ignores or at least doesn’t research/include some kind of contextual consideration (society, technology, tactics, culture…) may be good athletic and personal training, but it is not going create a well rounded, generally capable self defense artist. It will develop students who are VERY good at one part of a larger whole.