Let’s get straight to the point. It’s time for you to learn a martial art. There’s a story in the headlines today about a mother in Virginia whose daughter was being bullied by several other teens. Three of the bullies, a girl and two boys, showed up at the family’s home and instigated violence. One of the boys repeatedly punched the woman’s daughter in the face, breaking her glasses. The mother, who is a legal gun-owner, with a licensed firearm took out her weapon, went a safe distance away and fired a single warning shot in the air to save her daughter.
Police showed up and arrested the mother for “recklessly discharging a firearm.” The police report makes no mention of the assault or arrest of the perpetrators. Now the woman’s daughter has gone missing. Lord knows what has happened to her.
That brings me around to the topic at hand. Police are taught the “21-foot rule.” Basically, a well-trained officer cannot safely unholster a pistol, aim it, and fire at an attacker charging him if the attack begins within a 21-foot radius. You simply cannot react that fast. An attacker will be on you before you can pull a gun, especially a concealed one. That means you are going to have do defend yourself hand-to-hand.
Allow me to digress a moment. A couple of years ago, our LDS stake president, a very inspired man, gave a sermon that I thought was extremely important. He went through a list of things that Christian men should be doing. To make the talk more memorable, he use alliteration to make it “stick.” All the things began with the letter “P.” Pray, ponder, prepare, provide, etc. One of the “Ps” was “protect.” He said that men should take up the responsibility to protect their families. The Mormon faith teaches peaceful resolution of conflict, but our past was filled with persecution. The saints had to defend themselves from mobs and even the Army at one point. It is a man’s job to protect his loved ones. It is your job to protect yourself.
The stake president said that we should teach our young men to defend themselves. At the very least, get the kid into debate so he can defend his ideas and opinions verbally. Get him involved in wrestling, boxing, or a manly art. So many of our young men (not just LDS guys, either) are growing up weak and powerless. They spend their days playing video games with hardly any physical exertion. Gone are the days when a boy would be mowing yards to earn his spending money or working on grandpa’s ranch for the summer stacking hay bales into the back of the truck. Modern young men walk around with sagging pants or skin-tight skinny jeans, wear earrings, and fuss over their gelled-up hairdos. They’re becoming a bunch of sissies.
Bullying still goes on, but it’s different today than before. When I was a kid, I was bullied. I was weak, skinny, and unpopular in the schools I attended. Bullies back then used to just shove you around and call you names. Bullies were always bigger, stronger, and more intimidating. Nowadays, bullies are often packs of smaller kids who are on the upper end of the social spectrum. They pick on those who might not have the coolest jeans or who don’t wear the expensive name-brand shoes or shirts. They travel in packs and the rules of the schools make it so that most kids are reluctant to defend themselves. They just shut up and endure it.
Eventually, bullies get emboldened by the lack of retaliation and, having superior numbers, they will frequently resort to violence. When they do, a smaller kid will push around a larger one, knowing that he probably won’t defend himself. Besides, he’s always got the posse as a backup.
Like I said, it’s different now, but that’s where martial arts come in. When I was 13, the most awkward time of my life, I began to study judo. I gained confidence. I didn’t become aggressive. In fact, our sensei told us we should keep our involvement in judo secret and not tell anyone, most especially at school. My personality still remained meek, but I did not fear getting into a scrap with another kid. One day, in gym class, a guy who had bullied me for about two years decided to shove me around to show how cool he was. I warned him twice not to do it, and when he came back for the third time, he hit the floor hard. He instantly got up–unharmed, but shaken–and he quickly glanced around to see who had seen it. I stood my ground ready to act again. He turned away and never bothered me again.
Bullies pick their victims based on the perceived cost to them. Does picking on you elevate their status? Does picking on you involve any pain or danger? If they believe that there is no price to be paid and that they’ll gain from it personally–either in status or by getting you to ‘fess up your lunch money–they’ll see it as a win. When you put a price on it, they lose. They lose face in front of their posse. They also realize that there is potential harm you can inflict on them.
You don’t have to break arms, jaws, or do any permanent damage. You have control over your options when you know a martial art. I love this short security camera footage of a purse-snatcher who had the misfortune to attack a female judoka. He probably ended up unconscious from her use of ura-nage, a backwards throw.
If the mother in the story above knew judo, for example, she could have resolved the situation quickly without a firearm. She probably would have avoided police involvement. No one would have been seriously hurt. Her daughter would have been safe and probably not have disappeared.
I’m not going to tell you one martial art is better than others, but the ones that will be the most effective are the ones that allow you to face a fully-resisting opponent at each practice. Your body needs to learn how much force is required to throw a person, knock him down, choke, hit, or kick him. You don’t get that by chopping and kicking air. There is a difference between breaking a board and breaking a person’s leg. There is a psychological barrier you have to get through to do serious harm to another person. One of the reasons I like judo is that it allows you to practice your technique at full force with a fully-resisting opponent safely. The techniques are not deadly unless modified to be so. In a crisis moment, you’ll react how you have trained yourself to react. That’s where judo shines, because you don’t have to re-think your reactions. You just do judo and it works.
The world is becoming crazier. If things go down the tube, like I expect, you may have to protect yourself and your family. Several family members who know martial arts would give you a lot of security. You may rely on a gun for protection, but that is limited. You don’t want to keep guns where a small child could get to it and hurt themselves. You need to have it in a locked cabinet or have a trigger lock on it. When someone is breaking into your home, will your hands be shaking so bad you won’t be able to unlock it? What if someone takes your gun? What if you are in a situation where you have no more ammo? What if the government confiscates guns? Or just what if your attacker is less than 21 feet away and you don’t have time to react.
Learn judo, boxing, muay thai, krav maga, jiu jitsu, BJJ, karate, kung fu, or whatever form you want to. Build up your ability to defend yourself. Get in shape. Get off the couch. Get on the tatami (mats) and learn to protect the people around you. Don’t be a victim. And if someone tries to make you a victim, then you might just surprise them with an unintended consequence. Best of all, you probably won’t go to jail for having discharged a legally-owned firearm and your family will still be safe.