Self-Defense -- Before, During, And After

By Dennis Lawson
Published on Jul 15th, 2014

Self-Defense – Before, During, and After

As a health and safety professional and a student of the Martial Arts for over 40 years, my training and research exposes me to many disturbing statistics. This article was prompted by a review of a 2011 study of violence by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report noted:
Every minute 24 people are victims of physical violence, rape, or stalking by an intimate partner. That’s over 12 million people every year.
The number one cause of death in the workplace for women is homicide. The victims are, most often, killed by someone they know.
This information made me reflect. Are we preparing our students for the complete experience they may face during a violent encounter? The self-defense focus of our training often centers on an attack by an unknown assailant, the predatory attack. Yet, the statistics above show that we’re just as likely to be assaulted by someone we know. Whether our possible attacker is known or unknown to us, for safety’s sake, it’s important to take a larger perspective of any potential self-defense situation. We’ll break it down into three logical steps.
Before the incident
“Accept the fact that there are impending dangers and consider them seriously. Operate under the assumption that it can and will happen to you. … Besides, these preventative measures do not require physical strength, speed, or skill. They just require an understanding of how danger strikes.” Ed Parker’s Infinite Insights into Kenpo Book 1 Mental Stimulation
As a Martial Artist:
What is your attitude toward personal security? Are you conscious of your surroundings even in familiar areas? Do you go out in public mentally compromised (distracted by your phone, drunk, etc.)? Does your choice of clothing allow you to run easily to get away from a potential threat? Do you tend to spend time in unfamiliar areas? Do you know where the exits are? Do you lock your car, house, etc. regularly? What’s your level of physical fitness? Are you prepared mentally and emotionally to defend your life, if necessary?
Are you alert to approaching strangers on the street, at a party, at your place of work? How close do you allow someone to approach you before you protest? Do you trust your intuition when someone you know, or don’t know, makes you uncomfortable?
During the incident
This is the area of focus for most Martial Arts training. The emphasis is on the “how to” of defending yourself. The training methods may vary: battling against imaginary opponents, striking a bag or other target to develop basic skills, or working with a partner at varying levels of physical contact, etc. How often does this training push us beyond the level of a good physical workout, to a point of psychological and physiological tension?
After the incident
Once you’ve defended yourself successfully:
How do you remove yourself from the situation? Are you trained in First Aid/CPR; can you offer help to others who may be critically injured? Are you prepared to deal with a police inquiry, with going to jail, even temporarily, or the possibility of being sued? After defending yourself from violence, can you cope with the stress after the trauma? Do you know where to go for help?
If this article forced you to deal with some probing questions, some things you hadn’t considered before reading it, I’m glad. It is only by asking uncomfortable questions, formulating our responses, reflecting on our answers, and changing our behaviors, that we can make true progress.

Filed under Philosophy and Opinion

Author Bio :: Dennis Lawson

Dennis Lawson has trained for 4 decades in Ed Parker's Kenpo. During his varied career, Mr. Lawson has been an IKKA Regional Director for Region #3, has acted as Master of Ceremonies for the International Karate Championships, and has published numerous articles in publications for the International Kenpo Karate Association, The Martial Arts Learning Community (TheMALC), and Kenpo 2000.

Mr. Lawson has had the opportunity to study other Martial Arts and holds advanced rank in Aikido and Takemusu Aiki Budo. Dennis taught, competed in, and promoted events in the New Orleans area for 20 years. Among his list of favorite achievements is choreographing and performing Kenpo for the Dance Council of New Orleans. His academic background in psychology and love of music allow Dennis to offer a unique and entertaining approach to tailoring "the Art" to the individual. Dennis has taught seminars in Ireland, Jersey Channel Islands, The Netherlands, Portugal, and throughout the United States.

Dennis holds a Sixth Degree Black Belt in Ed Parker's Kenpo and was awarded the title “Professor” under the auspices of The Martial Arts Learning Community (TheMALC). Mr. Lawson was inducted into the International Black Belt Hall of Fame as Master Instructor of the Year for 2006.

Other Articles by Dennis Lawson

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