Martial Arts For Complete And Utter Morons

Hello, readers! Jave Harron here. You might remember me from Science Fiction for Dummies. I did a short entry on martial arts there, if you'll remember. In this column, I will be addressing an issue that I feel needs more attention, martial arts. I think it will be a nice break from all the serious political essays to cover something a lot of people might have an interest in.

When I mention martial arts, what do you think of? You probably think of insane stunts, badly dubbed movies, and complicated choreographed fights.

In most of such movies, the martial artists are Asian. Whether it's Chinese kung-fu or Japanese samurai movies, there's always East Asian individuals in such corny movies. Now, this is one stereotype I'm trying to do away with. When martial arts is mentioned, most people think of karate or kung-fu, but these are only two of countless martial arts in the world. Contrary to the stereotype, they were not exclusive to Asia.

Martial arts, in a broad sense, can be anything from fencing to modern military training. However, for simplicity's sake, unarmed combat styles, training or sporting use of ancient weapons, and any combination of both shall be referred to as a martial art.

What I plan to do with this column is describe some "general focuses" in different styles. Even within styles, though, there can be variations and subdivisions. Even within subdivisions, it can vary from school to school. I am by no means an expert on martial arts. However, I do think I have a vague enough idea on some to help clarify misconceptions and inform people of myriad of styles.

One thing I will not do is claim one style is better than another. For instance, I will not have say things like, "this style gets four out of five stars." Different conditions spawned each martial art, and to understand one is not to understand all. Different martial arts, like different weapons, were created for different reasons and various circumstances. Different people with personal needs can do well to look at different styles.

It is nearly impossible to master every style and every subdivision of martial arts in the world. You'd need a lot of time, and a lot of money. Martial arts are by no means a static thing, and often change. New ones are formed, and old ones can split into more subdivisions. However, a lot of martial arts have philosophy behind them, and I feel it is important to touch on this.

Some martial arts have philosophies behind them, and others simply advocate using "whatever works." I try to take a moderate stance here. I guess you could say my philosophy is "Use what works best for each scenario." One common question I'm asked is, "What works best in a real fight?" I've never been in a real fight, and hopefully never will. However, it's best to avoid a fight if it can be helped. No perceived insult or possession is worth your life. Even if you think it is, you shouldn't be carrying it (or listening to people) near the scum-filled crime alley in the first place. They might have a gun, and guns beat melee combat, despite bad movies. And don't be above using some strategy. Like throw your wallet into the alley, run the other direction, and yell for help. One fellow I heard about carried a cheap wallet of play money when he went to a city, so if he was mugged, he'd throw the fake wallet away and run the other direction.

But for when a fist fight or unarmed struggle cannot be avoided, here are some general things, from general self-defense guides you can see online:

1) Avoid hits.- This is obvious. Instead of doing some fancy, elaborate block, just move out of the way. This is harder than it seems. However, if you are going to be hit, don't simply give up. Likewise, if you are going to be hit, try to move so the attacker doesn't hit the part they wanted to. It hurts less being punched in the shoulder than being punched in the face.

2) There is no such thing as a "fair fight."-Scratch. Kick your enemy's crouch. Pull their hair. Bite them. They mean to do you harm. You do not owe them a "fair fight." They're either dumb or desperate enough to attack you. They gave up any pretense when they initiated the violence. Oh, and if it was you that provoked the fight, are a common crook, or attacked someone who posed no threat, you deserve to be beat down. Martial arts is on self-defense. Not randomly picking fights. Even commando martial arts are based on removing harmful attackers, not innocent bystanders or civilians.

3) Watch for openings.- Look into their eyes. People broadcast their movements with their eyes. If you watch their eyes, their fists and feet will follow. Try to get a feel for what they are doing (like raising foot for a kick), then move accordingly. Most strikes will likely be punches. Also, when they are preparing for one attack, they've left something else open and vulnerable. Like if they're raising their foot for a kick, they're likely off balance. The simplest moves are often the best. Also, if you have a chance, run away. Yes, I'm telling you that. Your life is what matters here. Credit cards and wallets can be replaced. Get the hell out of there if you can. Yell, and attract attention.

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With that said, I hope you will find this column interesting. My own personal martial arts background is two styles of aikido, and I have studied a bit of tae-kwon-do, karate, escrima, jujitsu, and two commando styles. I will explain more later. Oh, and since I'm not perfect, feel free to correct any errors. Like if you're a karate black-belt, and I explain something wrong, feel free to tell me. An unknown reviewer corrected an error in my martial arts entry on my sci-fi column, and I invite you readers to do the same. The next column I write will be on martial arts in your story. That is where the fun begins. Now, does anyone have any types of things they'd like to be covered?