Thankfully, the most dangerous threat around us is not violence. The actual leading causes of death are heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease, and accidents. This may seem like self-defense instructors are predicating their intentions for teaching upon an unrealistic threat, but learning to fight back against an attacker is an important life-saving skill. As a mother of three living in Chicago, I have learned that training matters if you want any type of skill that can save a life. Take CPR for example; if you are a new parent, or your elderly grandmother is moving in with you, you MUST know CPR. Without dissecting the current climate in America, there is enough violence in our communities to justify learning how to fight back against an attacker. Self-defense training is one safety management skill.
If violence does present itself, you will be in a fight. The variables of the fight that are unpredictable include how long it will last, the type of attack, where it might happen, or even the number of attackers. What you can control is your state of preparedness, your training, and your safety management skills. Self-defense training should apply the combative skills you acquire in relevant situations. Like any skill, they require practice and upgrading. Instructors should be highlighting incidents that actually happen often instead of sensationalizing violence that is more likely to occur in a movie.
One of my primary training methods is taking standard combatives like elbows, knees, punches, strikes and making sure students throw in them in a wide variety of positions. Most important is the ability to access your combative skills when you are in a position of disadvantage. In addition, it is critical to use your combatives to gain a better position so you are improving your ability to cause severe damage to the attacker.
At POW! Gym in the West Loop, we have a basic philosophy – the more you punch and kick, the better you will punch and kick under pressure. We try to make our members confident, fit and strong with their combative skills. We emphasize the skill of striking which lays a foundation that will create a reflex. I want the students of POW! Gym to reflexively strike hard and fast if faced with violence. As students continue to build their combative skill sets, we enhance their fight IQ, by drilling them in relevant situations.
Many find it challenging to insert their strikes into an attack from behind. Although the goal is to explosively react the moment you feel the threat behind you, you must turn your body into a forward fighting position. Although the drill below does not build into a self-defense application like a choke or head-lock, we teach the importance of responding to someone behind you with absolute offensive presence and decisiveness.