How many times have you heard the statement, "Take our kickboxing class and you will learn to protect yourself while you get in shape?" This is a marketing ploy used to lure innocent and unknowing individuals into a club or facility. So, the people buy a membership, take the classes and are exposed to kickboxing classes that involve:
- choreography formats where punches, kicks, "evasion" movements, etc. are all performed to specific tempo music. Guess I'd better have my iPod or Walkman with me when I walk down the street in case I am attacked - then I can turn on the tunes (maybe "Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting") and go to it on my assailant!
- Equipment training formats (circuit, interval, circuit/interval, drill, etc.) where techniques are executed with lightning speed, power and focus against inanimate objects that cannot hit back!
Claims of "learning self defense while you work out" are very misleading and could cause serious problems for those who participate in the training and for those who perform the training. Let's explore, in greater detail, a few of the reasons for this.
|Now, don't get me wrong - these classes can provide benefits for a person who wants to get in shape. (Remember, the term "in shape" is relative to the activity a person is training for. Training is activity-specific - e.g., marathon runners should not expect to improve their race times by training in an aerobic-type kickboxing workout routine).
These classes can also provide beneficial repetition practice for performance of the various physical techniques and movements that may be used in self defense situations. However, there is a huge difference between simply performing movement patterns associated with strikes, blocks, evasion techniques, etc. in the non-threatening environment of a fitness studio versus the high stress situation of a real attack.
Standard fare kick boxing classes, though great for fitness, should not be construed as effective self defense training.
The physiological and emotional responses to a real attack cannot be simulated in the "safe" environment of a fitness class. To be practical and effective in preparing a person to fight for his or her life, true self defense training must provide the "student" with as realistic experience as possible.
How easy would it be for a person to remain calm and in control of his or her physical reactions, actions and thought processes during a real physical confrontation? Until a person experiences a real (or near as possible) perceived threat against his or her well being, that person will not truly know what effect the danger will have on the ability to respond.
Fitness class participants perform and practice the movement patterns similar and related to self defense training techniques, but not under the same duress as experienced in a real attack.
Experiencing the "adrenaline rush" that results from a real-life threat to safety (and how it affects a person's physical capabilities and mental capacities) is the best way to realistically prepare a person for a real confrontation. Where and when, in a fitness class, does this take place?
The fitness training goal is to improve or enhance the condition of the mind and body through safe and effective methods. Injury from movement pattern performance should be minimized or eliminated, if possible.
The self defense training goal is to be able to physically defend oneself (i.e., only as a last resort, after all other attempts to avoid physical confrontation are exhausted) through the use of powerful, lightning fast, and accurate strikes, blocks and evasion movements.
Avoiding injury, use of full functional joint range of motion, elevating heart rate, experiencing muscle fatigue, etc. are not specific goals for self defense training. However, they may be experienced during self defense training.
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