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Learning the Art of Self-Defence

By April 14, 2022blog

Having the strength to learn martial arts for self-defense as opposed to doing self-defense. Most self-defense courses teach the primary form of defense: attack combinations required to defend oneself in a given situation or circumstance adequately. However, the strength of martial art is that as well as providing the knowledge of the combined techniques required to defend against an attack. It gives the ability to use the same or similar techniques for a broader range of possible scenarios and can be fatal and aggressive.

Different Methods of Training

Both martial arts and self-defense comes from different methods of training employed. However, self-defense courses use the repetition of short defensive combinations against common attacks, which are used in a minimal variety of scenarios. These scenarios can come with a surprise, where one needs to be appropriately aware of himself or the possible dangers that may be lurking somewhere. The advantage of this is the speed with which the defenses can be learned efficiently. These defenses are very much effective, given the correct prompt for the given defense technique to be used. Herein also lies a disadvantage. Suppose the attacker does not use the correct prompt for the defense. In that case, the victim may not be able to defend himself or herself effectively, as there is no allowance in the learned technique to modify it accordingly to combat similar attacks.

Self-Defence Techniques

An example of a self-defense technique is the release from a wrist grab, which can be learned quickly and executed effectively after a short period of repetitive practice. However, for someone who has only known the defense technique of this release, a minor modification to the grab can render the practiced movement ineffective. A slight improvement such as a wrist grab to grabbing from below the underhand is opposed to an overhand grab or gripping with the other hand. However, changes in the release technique are required to learn the defense quickly. Although the releases for each of these techniques are similar, it requires an understanding of the principles behind the method to execute them successfully. If only the first essential release is taught effectively, then these basic principles can be learned quickly. Then defense can no longer be just a physical movement known by the heart. It would be a base principle that can be modified to accommodate any slight difference in the attack designed to counteract.

Learning Techniques by Heart through Repetition

The overall strength of martial arts as a method of learning self-defense is although techniques are learned by the heart through repetition. Each technique is understood in its broadest possible context to be executed perfectly and efficiently. For example, a low block is not learned to defend against a front snap kick but against an attack directed at the lower abdominal area. Therefore, the martial arts student learns to execute this block to protect his or her body against any attack that targets it.

As training continues, more blocks are understood, as are their effectiveness against various attacks. This, along with the practice formats employed by the different types of sparring (one-step to free sparring), gives the ability to “think on your feet.” This enables the martial arts student to respond to an attack with various available defenses, based on understanding why and how the chosen technique will be effective, rather than a learned reactive movement.

Teaching of Self-Defence

The teaching of self-defense should follow a similar method. White belt students learn to block then punch from walking stance. After this, they understand the two fundamental movements and Chong-Ji, followed by three-step sparring. This learning progression takes a basic set of techniques, teaches combinations that they can use, and then introduces their application against an attack. This progressive approach should also be used with self-defense. A defense method should not only be taught as a response to a set attack.

The principle used in defense should be taught, then the techniques that the guide can be applied to obtain the desired effect—for example, a release targetting the weak point of the grip. The student learns that the release technique works by directing pressure to the area, which forms the weak point of the attackers’ grip to free his or herself. Once this is understood, having an opponent grab in various ways can teach a direct application of this principle.


Author bio

Dr. Jim Bentley a martial arts instructor. He is also the author of WING CHUN The Evolutionary Science of Self-Defense, Combat, and Human Performance. In addition, Dr. Bentley has written many blogs on the importance of self-defense techniques, tactical efficiency, principles of Wing Chun, and how they could be used in the face of danger. Dr. Bentley also provides certification programs through his website As a doctor, he provides care for many legendary martial artists and current MMA fighters like Erik Paulson, Curtis Millender, and Pearl Gonzalez. With his acclaimed healing methods, and martial arts curriculums he wants to spread his message to the people that the science, art, and philosophy of martial arts is truly a way of life. To learn more about Dr. Bentley please visit

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