I’m a pacifist. And I’m learning a really dangerous martial art.
I used to consider Parkour the only martial art worth learning. People don’t normally consider it a martial art, but I do. It’s the martial art of fleeing, strategic retreat. Some of my friends like to joke that this is the French martial art, as if avoiding confrontation were an ignominious act which reflects poorly on the French. I still believe this is the most effective form of self defense an average person can learn easily. Someone wants to beat you up? Run away.
That said, a couple months ago I began training in a real combative martial art. I took it up for reasons of fascination and interest. As I was confronted by the reality of just how brutal many of these techniques are I had to ask myself, really, why am I learning this? I never want to use any of these techniques on a person outside of a training environment. That would be awful.
I have come to realize that while running away is an amazing defense strategy for me, because I sprint so very fast, it won’t work for everyone. I want to travel the globe with my friends and lovers, and when they are threatened then I’ll have to stand my ground. I can’t assume that we will all be able to run out of the situation.
To that end, then, I’m learning how to defend myself and other in armed and unarmed combat. I’ve come to appreciate that the better my technique the less harm I’ll have to inflict to neutralize a dangerous situation. Before my training if I had to fight the only techniques I could rely on are to punch and kick. Subduing an enemy with blunt force trauma alone is not pretty, and certain to leave injuries. That is not what I want. Instead I would prefer to use painful but not actually harmful locks to disable an attacker. Better to leverage some skillful pain compliance until they either submit or faint than to cause permanent damage, in my opinion.