by John Thurston
I have just finished reading Mr. Ian Jenkins excellent article entitled “Real World Self Defense”. I wish to compliment him on his scholarship and complement his comments from a somewhat different point of view. I do not wish, however, to turn Sensei Mattson’s fine Articles section into a debate on firearms for that is not its focus. However, I am a certified rifle and pistol instructor and, I admit, puts a certain bias into my comments.
It is vital for those who do not wish to voluntarily undertake the risks and responsibilities of weapon ownership to understand the dangers involved to all of us from improper use of firearms and all weapons.. In this respect I wish compliment Mr. Jenkins on pointing out the dangers connected to weapons misuse.
The debate is endless and from my politically incorrect point of view, unwinnable. However, I believe in the concept of integrated self defense. What does this mean? It means you take all reasonable steps to study methods of protecting yourself and developing yourself.
If you buy into the argument that weapons and/or firearms are inherently evil and their existence poses more risk than can be offset by their use in defensive situations, then, seriously, don’t read any further. I will not be able to convince you of anything. In truth, if this is how you really feel, I don’t WANT to convince you. Stay away from weapons. If you read slightly different areas of scholarship (the Latest “More Guns, Less Crime” recently commented on in Newsweek magazine) then maybe you should read on. It’s up to you.
The first rule that I expound to student in my firearms/ weapons instruction is pretty simple:
“Sometime, sooner or later you will have a firearm go off when you DON’T expect or want it to.”
What then to do? Follow the rules. When the weapons discharges, it had best be pointed where it will not injure anyone. I have had firearms go off four times when I did not wish them to.
Through good fortune and following the rules, nobody got hurt. I won’t carry this any further just now. Back to the Martial Arts. Listen to me if you will:
- A weapon is and should always be an extension of your hand and your will.
- Every weapon with which you train should be ethically used at all times.
- If misused or mishandled, your weapon of choice will hurt you.
- You should be free to choose (within reason) the areas of your weapons practice as well as your empty hand practice.
- Is Boxing a martial art?
- Is Graeco Roman wrestling a martial art?
- I archery a martial art?
I think you see where I am leading. The “Martial Arts” as we have now commonly come to understand the usage of the term, might give the answer “No” to the above questions. I answer yes. Is the opportunity to improve oneself through the study of Karate or other Asian martial arts higher than in the study of any of Archery, for example?. I answer yes to that as well. Kyudo is, however, an honored “Martial Art” in Japan. The “Eastern” Martial Arts have evolved in such a fashion that the
methods used in their study offer a greater potential for internal and personal development and improvement than do western boxing or wrestling in their present format. This does not mean that they are not martial arts or that they are somehow invalid.
For better or for worse, the Industrial Revolution took the West, and, later, the East towards the development of the technology of (mass) destruction and control, at the expense of “the person” and “personal” and unarmed or low tech “martial arts”.
For better or for worse, I have studied Karate, Tai Chi, Ba Fa, edged weapons, the cane, Archery, Firearms, , Kobudo (Sai and Bo mostly) and, yes, even spear throwing in wildly and widely varying degrees.
I recommend all such study, if undertaken properly and ethically..That, however, may be a point of view which distinctly represents the voice of a vanishing and politically incorrect minority.
I consider Uechi Karate to be at the core or center of all my disparate efforts to learn to develop true self defense awareness and personal growth. But, as Mr. Jenkins pointed out, there is quite a bit more to it and I compliment his effort to point this out..