I am often asked, “What is the best Martial Art?” Or, “Where is the best place to learn self-defence?” “How do I know if this school is good?” There are a lot of Martial Arts schools out there and many places to learn self-defence. It can be difficult to choose a school to train at or choose a self-defence course to register for. Some places have great marketing and exposure, while others only accept new people from recommendations from current students. For someone who has no previous knowledge of Martial Arts, it can be overwhelming.
There are several factors to consider depending on your goals: Location, Cost, Class Schedules, Frequency of Certifications and Competition.
These factors seem to get prioritized very highly, yet have little to do with what you would actually be learning, more important to consider are things like: Instructor Qualifications and experience, Ratio of Instructors to students, Class curriculum, If you are a woman – perhaps the availability of female instructors and the Quality of long-time students in the school. These are better indicators for the quality of training you will receive!
Different schools will focus on different aspects of training and it is important to ask questions to get a sense of what you can expect. My recommendation is always to try a class or two to see if you like it, any reputable school will allow a new person a trial class. Just like self-defence awareness, how you ‘feel’ in the class is very important. Talk to the other students and ask questions about their training experiences.
At our school, we encourage questions from new beginners and always have them try a class before they register. This allows new people a good experience to make an informed decision.
As for specific self-defence courses or specific types of Martial Arts, I believe there is value everywhere. Some training is better than no training! Even though my speciality is Karate, I am always open to learning new things. This is how you grow and improve.
Beware of schools that tell you ‘they are the best’, will not let you try a class, or are negative about other Martial Arts schools. Stay away from schools where the instructor is boastful or negative and the students act fearful. Look for a positive and encouraging environment to learn in instead.
Last month I demonstrated a self-defence technique against an in-line wrist grab. This month I am demonstrating self-defence against an across-line wrist grab. There are several key points in each picture.
• The attacker is reaching across you to grab your wrist. (Their right hand grabbing your right hand or their left grabbing your left)
• You are being pulled forwards off balance towards the attacker
• Distract the attacker with a strong kick to their knee
• This helps you regain your balance and throws the attacker off balance
• With your free hand clasp down on to the attackers hand trapping it to you
• At the same time open the hand that has been grabbed. This keeps your wrist expanded to be as large as possible
Circle On Top
• Circle your open hand on top of the attackers wrist and grab their wrist/arm
• Be sure to be close to the attacker to keep their elbow bent. (a straight elbow calls for a different defence)
Push Down and Forwards
• Your trapping hand is pushing down
• Your grabbing hand is pushing down and most importantly squeezing the attackers hand forwards.
• I am turning the wrist of my right hand down and forwards to cause pain for my attacker and to bring them to their knees
• The leg I used to kick with, steps straight back. (front stance for Martial Artists)
• This is a quick movement!
Pull and Twist
• My attacker is off balance and in a weak position, I will use this to my advantage
• Simultaneously pull the attacker forwards on to their stomach while you twist your hips to face the opposite direction
• Your pull and twist must be done very strongly and quickly
• Once the attacker is on their stomach, you may let go of their hand and finish with a swift kick/stomp to their head.
• In a karate class I would finish with a shoulder lock or another controlling technique, for this focus on beginner women’s self-defence I recommend finishing with the kick.
• Then run to safety! Remember you main objective is to escape.
All the movements with this technique must be executed with speed and force for maximum effectiveness. Do not be shy! Be strong and confident when you need to fight for your safety.
On a personal note, I really like this technique. It is one of my favorites. This was actually the very first self-defence technique I was ever taught, many years ago as a beginner child. When doing or teaching this technique, I am always reminded about why I started and what I love about Martial Arts.