What is self defense? My definition is when one or more people are trying to harm you and you can’t just walk away.
Self defense is not two frat boys getting into a verbal argument that escalates into pushing and shoving and then punches are thrown. That scenario, and others like it, IMHO should be called ritual combat, and not self defense.
Most people under estimate the danger of physical combat on the street. A high school kid once destroyed someone’s eye with a punch , breaking his eye socket and causing permanent blindness in the eye. When I was a defense lawyer and represented juveniles, one of my clients was a 15 year old kid who weighed a buck twenty who hit an adult male with an uppercut to the jaw breaking several of his upper and lower teeth.
There have been several reported instances of martial arts black belts and instructors who tried to be heroes and died because they were knocked out, fell, and cracked their skulls open on the sidewalk.
It is always better to walk away from trouble, and unless you are a cop, FBI agent, corrections officer, bouncer, or a prisoner, in upwards of 90% of the time you can just walk away from trouble.
If you have to fight to defend yourself, it is my opinion that pretty much any martial art will work upwards of 90% of the time if you have something called “fighting heart” and have trained to develop a lot of power and a lot of speed. In particular boxing will work, muay thai will work, kickboxing will work, wing chun will work, savate will work, sanda will work, southern mantis will work, choy li fut will work, and Bak Mei will work.
However, it has become my opinion that most males who are not in law enforcement, are not bouncers, and do not live in very dangerous neighborhoods, are actually safer not studying martial arts than studying martial arts. Most males who study a martial arts do not study long enough and hard enough to develop the kind of speed, power, and skill to actually defend themselves successfully against even one tough street fighter or mugger.
The danger is that they think they can defend themselves, and thus do not avoid dangerous places and situations, and do not walk away when they have the chance. Most females, however, even if they train a martial art will still avoid dangerous places and situations, and are smart enough to walk away or even run away from bad situations.
I have also come to believe that for any martial art to be effective in the real world, you have to do at least some full contact sparring, even if it is with head gear or else you are probably just fooling yourself.
The above video shows fighters in the Leung Ting lineage going at it full power with headgear (and with chest protectors for the female fighters). You can tell that these are all beginners, as they are wearing white shirts. In the Leung Ting Lineage it usually takes at least two years to graduate to the black shirt or assistant instructor level.
Wile some of the comments to this video claim that this is mma and not wing chun, the fighters are using a lot of chain punches and wing chun front kicks and also some dangerous elbow techniques which are banned in all MMA contests. These students don’t have or at least aren’t using a lot of skills, but they have the fighting heart, intensity, and also enough technique to defend themselves very well against 90% of all muggers or attackers on the street.
However I do not agree with them being allowed to spar with extremely dangerous techniques. I would never have any student risk getting downward elbows to the spine or soccer kicks to the head (even with headgear)being used here.
If you are a guy and you want to train martial arts for fitness or fun, that is fine as long as you are still smart enough to avoid bad neighborhoods, especially at night, dangerous bars and other venues, and are not too proud to apologize or walk away. In my experience, this is sometimes easier said than done, especially when you add alcohol to the equation.
My advice is, if you live in a dangerous neighborhood, move into a safer neighborhood. Don’t go into a rough looking bar, or a bar that gets a rough crowd.
There used to be a bar located in the basement of a cop op building in my old neighborhood, Forest Hills Gardens (a very safe upscale neighborhood of Queens).
This bar had the most amazing different martinis, but also around 11 o’clock turned into a disco with awful and loud music. They had 2 enormous bouncers and a rough looking crowd would come in after 11, at which time I would usually leave because I couldn’t take the music.
One day I was doing some google searches ( I think I was doing research for this blog) and I saw that there had been a homicide in my neighborhood. Friends and relatives of the victim were protesting the local police precinct’s handling of the case.
The victim had gone to this bar and was hitting on a girl. It turns out that the girls’ boy friend was in the bar and he started an argument with the victim. The boy friend was also friends with the bouncers and the bouncers eventually threw the victim out. The victim found himself alone on the sidewalk surrounded by 10 guys who proceeded to stomp him into the ground. Fortunately his cousin showed up to take him to the hospital where he died a few hours later.
The protest was because the precinct refused to categorize the victim’s death as a homicide. According to the people who protested this precinct had extremely low crime statistics and the captain wanted to keep them that way (I obviously have no way of knowing if this allegation was true or false).