Neighbourhood Broach

The name Trayvon echoes around social networking, the world’s media and on the streets of New Zealand. As a martial artist and former bouncer I think is a sad state of affairs when a 28-year-old security guard is unable to whoop a 15-year-old youth, unable to take a beating and has to rely on a firearm for protection from an unarmed youth. What is even sadder is that a hoodie-wearing African youth buying a can of pop and a bag of skittles instantly comes under scrutiny. This can only be attributed to the aberrant conditioning of a kooky and gung-ho community of a fenced off Florida enclave. To me, it looks like the first step down a slippery slope of white only areas and locally sanctioned apartheid.

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Fighting Style

Teaching children’s martial arts class today I had one youngster ask me whether I had hurt anyone in sparring or in competition. Two instances that spring to mind are when my axe kick popped my opponent's shoulder and another time when someone fractured their wrist trying to block my roundhouse. I have also suffered injuries with the most serious being a broken arm in a state tournament. Injuries I guess are inevitable, however, Taekwondo is a fairly safe sport considering the objective is to score points with full contact kicks to the body and head. In Taekwondo most of the time if one gets hurt it is normally the result of an accident.

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Hard Targets

As my students as make a commitment to regularly train twice a week the onus is for me to provide training regimens that would increase their aerobic work rate and fitness. In the past a student once told me that he would rather just go over self defence moves than practice combatives and aggression drills. Not only is the combative training a good way to warm up for the self defence training but it also provides a good aerobic workout. The aggression drills foster the mindset to react correctly when attacked unexpectedly and build confidence. If I ran my classes any other way I would be detracting from the true benefits of Krav Maga.

As I write this blog I am aware of the issue in this country with obesity. As many as one in three New Zealanders is classed as clinically obese. This means that their body fat makes up at least 30% of their body mass. The last twenty years we have seen a decline of sporting pursuits in favour of video games and the overuse of cars. As a result one in four children is now also overweight. It does not help that we have a generally benign acceptance of being too large for one’s size. By providing a fun and challenging martial arts activity I am doing my part to combat this obesity epidemic.

My role as an instructor puts me in the position of a fitness trainer, a self defence expert, a motivational speaker and a life coach. It is interesting that for the first time females outnumber males in my school. At first when the female students observe the military style aggression drills often I would get asked whether they could just watch and sit out. I practically force them to take part; however once they experience the fun and gain confidence they would often ask to go again. Seeing females instinctively defend from a violent grabs and chokes makes me realize the benefit of this type of training in protecting lives.

I am a firm believer in rough military style training as opposed to practicing graceful techniques and striking the air. There is a bottleneck on how many techniques can be used in the split second of an attack and knowing too many moves can actually be a hindrance in self defence. Not many things are as satisfying to an instructor as having a student tell me that her confidence in being able to defend herself has increased tremendously after just a few sessions with me. Just the mindset alone could prevent an attack. Sun Tzu said that to fight and conquer is not supreme excellence but rather supreme excellence is in breaking the enemy’s resistance without having to fight. The point I am making is that awareness of the environment and projected confidence and vitality in the body language will probably prevent an attack. Attackers and bullies are predators, which mean they seek easy targets.

Right to Defend

People used to tell me before I came over to the country that reality martial arts would never make a big impact over here; that New Zealand is safe and is cut-off from the troubles of the world. What confuses and agitates me are the statistics of crime that I see and read about daily in the news. I feel overwhelmed and my sentiments are unable to keep up with the abomination of all the things happening lately in the news. I simply no longer see the idealic picture that was portrayed to me at the Work New Zealand Expo in London 6 years ago.

The dark side ofNew Zealand society in the back of my mind gives me a sense of dread. Dread about the future of my children and leaves me with anxieties about molestation by adults and the terror of a drug-addicted and criminal future. This emotional inadequacy or impotence against a boundless sea of troubles at times makes me doubt my own humanity.

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Warrior Reborn

Modern martial arts are something for people to show off their athletic prowess in sport fighting, board breaking and dramatic self-defence demonstrations. It keeps the parents happy by providing a challenging activity for the kids; it fosters discipline and builds self-esteem. When the world witnessed spectacular terrorism of a few men armed with box cutters who managed to subdue planeloads of passengers; the reality of the types of issues normally faced by the Israelis began to manifest themselves globally. Many started to ponder exactly how they would cope with a weapon threat, and how they themselves could use simple tactics to facilitate escape and to use weapons of opportunity in their environment.

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