To even begin to answer this question we must first define a few terms. One, what do we mean by marital arts and two, why would preppers need them? The true meaning of martial arts are those skills that are required by military personnel. This is a very broad category encompassing many, many different skills.
Though sanitation and logistics are extremely useful when trying to keep people alive often times we put those mundane tasks in a different category. After all, civilians do not necessarily need combat skills but will always need sanitation services. What we are referring to when speaking of martial arts are usually combative techniques exclusively, the abilities that allow us to defeat our enemies and keep ourselves free from physical harm.
The very nature of prepping is to keep one both free from harm and continually thriving and surviving. Training in martial arts can be a great asset when someone is required to look after themselves as well as others when faced with adversity or put into a hostile environment. Secondary to self-defense, martial training forges a strong and resilient body, develops a flexible mind, and an indomitable spirit. These attributes, once cultivated, build an individual that little can deter or dominate.
So what arts should the loan prepper or even the prepper family units learn?
There are literally hundreds of martial arts on the planet. Every race and culture has some form of combat and within each said culture there are endless variations and styles. It truly doesn’t matter what you choose as long as it helps you to defend yourself and fight more competently. But for the sake of optimization, there are those skills that will help more than others. Preppers love optimization. It just screams efficiency and more bang for your buck.
A prepper will either be on the move, have shallow roots that can be moved with little effort, or deeply planted. These situations dictate what arts will be better for them. The nomad will be carrying everything with them and will want to travel light. Their combat skills must allow them to remain light, fast, and mobile. They will need greater endurance and stamina. The possibility of being caught in a combat situation and being on foot is greatest for them. Their weapons, ammunition, and resources will be limited. Escape and evasion are crucial to their survival.
The prepper with shallow roots can be afforded greater resources than the nomad but will have the ability to pick up and go without hesitation. Their martial arts should allow them to defend a fixed position as well as be mobile like the nomad. They have the ability to have greater numbers and larger weapons with greater ammunition stockpiles.
The deeply rooted prepper, the ones that bug in, will rely heavily on defending fixed positions. They may have the need to take prisoners and restrain individuals. They will need to gain intelligence on the outside world and keep up with the state of affairs. They will also have the added bonus of having routine surveillance, early warning systems in place, and traps if need be.
When the environment and situations change the skills need to adapt and remain flexible.
Grappling and Wrestling Arts
It would be wise and quite useful for every prepper to study some form of grappling and wrestling arts. Freestyle wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling, Russian Sambo, Judo, Jujitsu, and Chinese Shuai Jiao are all great arts that build raw strength and powerful bodies. In these arts the prepper learns leverage, conservation of strength, attacking and defending at the extreme close quarters, and using your opponent’s weight and power against him.
The reason we begin our discussion with grappling and wrestling arts is that they are the easiest to learn. The oldest forms of martial arts recorded were wrestling arts. Humans have been grappling with one another since their beginning. These arts can effectively defend against punches, kicks, and weapon attacks. One trained in wrestling techniques can fight in virtually any condition and on all terrain.
Grappling techniques work on armor clad opponents and can be done when the defender is wear armor. Unlike punching and kicking where the practitioner needs to generate kinetic energy to damage an opponent, grappling arts use leverage to fell the opponent causing them to damage themselves on the ground. A single throw or takedown can fracture bones, rip muscles and tendons, and even render the opponent unconscious. Dropping someone on their head can possibly damage their spine effectively taking them out of the fight.
Grappling techniques are most effective when the environment is close and narrow such as the hallways of a home or the confines of a bathroom. Wrestling makes good use of environmental weapons. These are the edges of cabinets, the corners of tables, and the backs of chairs. All one would need is an aggressive double leg takedown through a table or a body slam into a bathroom sink and the fight would be over. Watch some street fights on YouTube and take note of the effects of a hard body slam or takedown. They are very dangerous techniques.
Statistically the majority of hand to hand combat comes down to winning the grapple. In watching those YouTube street fights note how many of them result in the fighters trying to wrest each other to the ground. The percentage is quite high. Grappling techniques are the only hand to hand techniques that work in low light situations or for people that are blind. There is a saying “the hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see.” This may be true but you can still choke out your opponent if and when the need arises.
The down side to grappling and wrestling is that the techniques lose their effectiveness when the number of opponents increases. One person utilizing wrestling techniques against two people is certainly possible. They would essentially use one opponent as a shield or obstruction against the other. However, they must remain on their feet and mobile. If they happen to lose their footing and fall to the ground then they are at the mercy of two people’s feet.
Beyond three opponents and using wrestling techniques is all but useless. Choosing to grapple in this situation is a bad decision and will more than likely result in defeat. Multiple opponents will want to wrestle with you as they can hold you in place while their cohorts beat you senseless. It would be more useful to stay moving and strike them.
After wrestling, striking with the hands or boxing, is the next oldest form of combat. The hands are faster, more accurate, and relatively easy to train. Training to box the prepper will gain greater stamina, endurance, hand-eye coordination, the ability to protect the head, and vital areas of the torso. Boxing is an effective fighting arts as well as an efficient method of staying in shape for any task survival may require. Boxing requires the practitioner to condition their bodies to handle being struck. This often results in a lean tough body that is armor clad in a sheet of dense muscle.
Boxers are agile, and quick. These skills can only add to the prepper’s arsenal when they must fight on the run. Not only this but boxing alters the fighters perception. When wrestling the entire body is in contact with the opponent so you are largely getting feedback and information from touch. Your opponent advances and you can feel the pressure so you respond accordingly. Boxing is all in the eyes and it happens split seconds at a time.
Watch the evasive maneuvers of boxers like Mayweather, Rigondeaux, or Pernell Whitaker and you will see what I mean. The speed at which they can read an opponent’s movements, decide what action to take, and execute said action is measured in mili-seconds. True enough these are professional fighters and are top class, but even a basic skill in boxing defense will put you lightyears ahead of those that do not train it.
Again the hands cannot hit what the eyes cannot see and altering your perception with boxing drills will train your eyes. One of the reasons many fail in a fight is their flinch response. For just a moment they reflexively blind themselves by closing their eyes when they are struck at. Watch seasoned fighters in slow motion. They are able to relax and not flinch. This allows them to track incoming strikes and see openings in their opponent’s defense.
Kickboxing/Muay Thai/San Da
You will always want to train in some form of fist and foot fighting. American kickboxing, Muay Thai from Thailand, San Da from China, or Kyokushin Karate from Japan are all great methods of fist and foot fighting. Training in these arts gives the fighter a strong and tough body like boxing and wrestling, but unlike boxing and wrestling one gains many more weapons. In boxing the hands are the primary weapons, though in street fighting head butts and elbow strikes are used.
In these kickboxing arts one learns to attack and defend using hands, feet, knees, and elbows. Hand-eye coordination will be increased with strike training. Balance will increase with kick training. These arts are invaluable when one aims to learn how to defend against kicking techniques. Though the striking combinations in boxing are faster the combinations in fist-foot arts have the potential to cause a wider range of damage as they allow the fighter to attack more areas of the body.
Where pure boxing techniques fail with an armored opponent kicking techniques can still be useful. Most forms of body armor are weakest at the joints and where striking with the hands may not have enough force to damage them a well-placed kick will be more than sufficient to drive a knee or elbow to destruction. Speaking of body armor, these arts can be made more effective when used in conjunction with armor. Steel toed boots, hard elbow pads, and hard shell knee pads act as force multipliers.
When wearing armor conventional unarmed attacks will be equivalent to blunt weapon attacks. Imagine yourself kicking someone in the stomach with your foot. It would probably knock the wind out of them. It would hurt and maybe even stop their forward momentum. It you kicked them in the shin or another hard bone you would be less likely to cause any significant damage and more likely to bruise you own foot. Now imagine what damage that same kick would do with your foot clad in a heavy boot? With a single blow you could potentially shatter their shin bone and take them out of the fight.
One other beautiful thing about learning to kick is that you can effectively bridge the gap between armed and unarmed combat. With wrestling only short range hand weapons are effective. With boxing or fist fighting the practitioner must either wield a single handed weapon and use the empty hand as a striking fist or wield one weapon in each hand. Single hand weapons are not nearly as powerful as those wielded with two hands. The only problem is that two handed weapons are usually slower.
When the feet come into play as striking weapons the hands are free to focus solely on heavy weapon usage. The quick attacks can be left to the feet and stronger follow up attacks can be made with heavy weapons. In modern day where we fight with firearms both hands can remain in contact with your weapon while you engage an opponent in melee combat.
Modern Military Combatives
These arts are today’s equivalent of what the classical martial arts were. These arts are very eclectic and purpose driven. What I mean by that is they take into account the enemy they will be engaging, the weapons they will be using, and what support systems, if any, will be in place. These arts include styles like MCMAP (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program), Krav Maga, S.P.E.A.R., and Systema.
These styles have one goal always and that is to destroy the enemy. Through and through these are today’s killing arts. For someone trained in modern combatives survival and mission completion are all that are important. The techniques come from a variety of sources. There is much cross training with nearly everything being based on the combatting of edge weapons and firearms.
These are useful for the prepper because they will learn to defend modern weaponry in realistic situations. The techniques in these systems are developed and tested out on battlefields around the world. You can rest assured that what you learn had been used to defend someone’s life at some point. They tend to completely cast away theoretical techniques that take a high level of skill to perform for those that are simple and have a higher degree of success when under the stress of combat.
Modern army combatives has techniques that take into account that you will have certain weapons in certain places on your person. Most field operating soldiers will have body armor, helmet, a battle rifle, a side arm, and a fixed blade knife. Of course at distances beyond human reach the battle rifle and side arm are relied upon exclusively but in melee range those weapons take on a new dynamic. The operator couples striking and grappling with weapon fighting. A very good and entertaining example of what I am talking about is in the movie John Wick. Get on YouTube and watch a clip of John Wick fighting and you will have a better idea.
These systems have a series of techniques that are very useful when wielding weapons. These are called weapon retention techniques. They are employed in the event someone tries to wrest your weapons away from you. You can turn disadvantage into advantage by capitalizing on your opponent’s attention being taken up by your weapon. While they are grappling with your weapon you are counter attacking with natural body weapons, hands, feet, knees, elbows, or employing secondary weapons, your pistol or knife.
As I stated in the beginning, modern combatives borrow heavily from other arts. They use punches from boxing because they are basic and effective. They use low kicking from styles like wing chun kung fu and muay thai boxing because they are learned quickly and easily employed. They use throws from judo and joint locks from jujitsu but the sport aspect is completely removed as their aim is to break bones. All of this will usually be in conjunction with guns and knives. Remember mission completion is key and your mission is to survive.
Now I know what you are thinking and you are half right. I had a natural progression going from most primitive wrestling to modern combat and now I am hitting reverse and taking it back to feudal Japan. Yes, we can learn many lessons from the arts of the Samurai that are just as valid today as they were hundreds of years back. When I speak of iaijutsu and kenjutsu of course I mean the use of the Japanese sword but I am not leaving out the other arts of war. All schools of bujitsu practiced an assortment of skills along with the sword.
The sword, in fact, was a secondary weapon to the samurai, equivalent to a modern day police officer’s service pistol. The primary weapons of war were the bow and arrow, and the spear. Ask yourself if these tools cold be useful to survival. I am willing to bet the answer is yes. We know for a fact that the bow and the spear are as old as man himself and were the great equalizers when it came to hunting dangerous game. There are those that still hunt deer with bow and arrow as well as those that hunt lion with spears.
Then what of the sword? Training with the sword is more about spirit than actual physical combat. The lessons extend into physical combat indeed but the real jewels are those gained through thousands of repetitions of a single technique. Not only does it train the body but the discipline and determination to train through boredom, discomfort, pain, and frustration are gained through an endless cycle of the same technique or set of techniques. One must be prepared to focus entirely on a single kata for the remainder of his/her life without pause and drive out the urge to want to move onto other material.
Patience is an absolute virtue when it comes to wielding the sword. This has a practical application as well. In the training hall a student may swing a sword ten thousand times to perfect a single cut. But what he/she does after mastery determines if he/she has truly learned anything. Will they move onto new material and begin again trying to master that material? Then what of their other skill? Will they let them mature or grow old? Will they become better and more efficient or will they suffer from neglect? The road to mastery has no end. One learns that like a swimming shark they must keep moving to survive.
In fist fighting a glancing blow can mean something or it can mean nothing. In sword fighting a glancing blow can mean death, dismemberment, or may be crippling. Even the slightest half inch cut can cause one to bleed out. The beauty of training with swords is how well the student learns to guage distance down to the centimeter. The degree of precision and control of an adept swordsman is uncanny. With training and unrelenting practice a student can attain a skill level that would allow him/her to attack an opponent with a killer’s instinct with the intent to strike him down and have the control to stop his/her blade less than an inch from the opponent’s skin.
It is one thing to pull a strike short, miss on purpose, or cut halfheartedly, but it is another matter entirely to project deadly intent and then turn it off at the last minute. The swordsman would need to gain control of their emotions in order to do that. Imagine being enraged near the point of losing your temper and having the emotional discipline to just turn it off and not feel those emotions through sheer will power and control. Training in iaijutsu and kenjutsu you will visit those lessons time and time again.
Shinobi no Jutsu/a.k.a. Ninjutsu
We all have heard of the legendary ninja of ancient Japan, the fearless shadow warriors with near magical abilities. Before you begin to roll your eyes and stop listening I want you to hear me out. Yes, I am still talking about feudal Japan and yes, I know most of our ideas about ninja and their skills come from television. First off forget what you thought you knew about ninja. Half of that stuff is lies and the other half is bullshit. Real ninjutsu is the art of deception.
I don’t want you dressing in all black with a short sword strapped to your back trying to climb up a drain pipe. That would more than likely get you shot. I am talking about having a silver tongue with the ability to travel to any place and blend in with the local populace. I am talking about having natives believe you are a native. I am talking about being so skillful at listening and gathering information that people begin to believe you are clairvoyant.
Simply put the ninja studied and understood people. They understood psychology which is how to many they seemed magical in their abilities. The understood society and how things worked between people at different levels. They understood local customs and curtsies which aided them when they needed to blend in. They understood anatomy which gave them an edge when they had to defend themselves physically.
We are usually too caught up in the romantic fantasy of the ninja to truly take them seriously. The ninja in our minds compared to the real ninja is analogous to James Bond compared to the real spy. James Bond is romantic and sexy but he would have never survived even a single mission in the real world. Real ninja, like modern spies, hid in plain sight, had day jobs, had a wide variety of skills that had absolutely nothing to do with fighting, and were extremely low key. They did not want to draw attention to themselves.
This brings me to their attire. The all black outfit is good for the silver screen but crap for cammo. During the day that outfit would clash with almost every back ground. At night the solid black would absorb all remaining light and create a sort of hole. It would silhouette and ultimately stick out. It may not look like a man but someone would know something was there. True ninja would wear what was expected to be in a given environment.
What you would aim to learn from training in the ninja arts would be stealth. Not just hiding in really acrobatic ways but learning to take advantage of people’s lack of attention to detail. You would learn the tricks to altering your appearance, you speech patterns, and your gait, all of those things that people recognize you by. You would train to speak different dialects and even languages. This would aid in gathering information.
You would learn how to gather information without looking like you are trying to gather information. You would be able to do your own reconnaissance and form plans from the information you gathered. In training you would learn some form of field craft. Ninja were trained as lone operators. They did work in teams from time to time but had the ability to function all on their own. You would learn to be completely self-sufficient.
As far as fighting and self-defense went the ninja had a plethora of skills. Their fighting skills were built upon what their natural inclinations were. There are “ninja fighting techniques,” but the best methods are ones that were natural. This made their training and employment very unique. There was sort of ninja basic training that was conceptual in its practice. All ninja were expected to have some training in the “eighteen skills”:
- Stick Fighting
- Battle Tactics
- Escape and Evasion
- Sword Techniques
- Chain-Sickle Fighting
- Polearm Fighting
- Spiritual Refinement
- Throwing weapons
- Spear Fighting
- Swimming/Water Training
- Unarmed Combat
As you can see there is much to be gained in learning even a fraction of the skills of the ninja. Even training in one of the eighteen skills would make you that much better at survival and that much more difficult to attack. Finding a school of ninjutsu may be difficult but worth it overall. Just remember to focus on growing many different skills and study hard.
CQB (Close Quarter Battle)
Now after visiting the past we shall return to the modern world with modern weapons. So far I have been discussing skills and tactics that are suited for personal protection in single combat. The arts can be used to defend against multiples but only to the degree of getting to safety. Running is the primary method of survival. One against many is something only action stars and the extremely lucky succeed at. Fighting more than one opponent with the goal of beating them you will need to have a team.
When chaos hits the odds will more than likely be stacked in your enemy’s favor. CQB, close quarter battle, also known as CQC, close quarter combat, are techniques designed specifically for combatting multiple aggressors in confined spaces wielding firearms. The idea is that a team uses controlled violence and overwhelming force in a coordinated effort to dispatch an enemy. These techniques were developed and tested in the streets an out on the modern battlefields.
CQB was developed to fight in an urban setting. One schooled in CQB methods is an expert at weapon fighting indoors. They are trained to fight in unconventional environments, up and down stairs, across a living room, and even in a bathroom. They use short range but powerful weapons, submachine guns, shotguns, and pistols. Their main strength is the ability to make buildings safe and clear of physical dangers. They are trained to efficiently and methodically go room by room ensuring that each is clear of opposition.
It is true there is strength in numbers, and more people shooting on your behalf is always a good thing. In spite of what action movies tell us one man with twenty guns is not better than twenty men with one gun each. Having said that, training of those twenty people is necessary. You may find yourself not the lone operator but part of a survival group. Having many armed people shooting in self defense is a lot of lead flying and very dangerous for all parties involved. It would be a sad day to accidentally send one of your own to the hospital or the morgue.
Each team member has a specific job and role which dictates their armaments. Everything they did would have to be coordinated and trained as a unit. They move like a single entity. In these arts there are no lone wolves. The smallest unit is a two man team. No one can watch their own back so they will always have another to cover their blind side. No team is over five members. Any more than five and they run the danger of encumbering one another.
The first person in on the team has the hardest job. He/she will be the one that makes contact with the opposition first. They should have the best body armor if any is available and the hardest hitting weapon. They should be the wielder of the shotgun. There should be someone on the team that is strong enough to get through any obstacles that the team may come across, this means they will break down doors and make holes in walls. They will be the one that has to carry the sledgehammer.
The tactics a team uses are the most important element. Though they have a basic underlying theme they are unique in every situation as the fighting environment continually changes. Keep in mind that armaments have a large part to play when deciding what tactics to use. Pistols are popular but largely underpowered. Shotguns are very powerful up close and can double at a melee weapon but they hold very little ammunition. Submachineguns are not allowed to civilians so we are left to carbines which have a large number of rounds but are still relatively underpowered.
You will learn the strengths and weaknesses of these weapons. You will learn how to use all of them in conjunction with one another. Most importantly you will have gun myths dispelled. You will learn what damage firearms can and cannot do. All that John Woo diving through the air and shooting bullshit, killing a man at one hundred yards with a single pistol round, and blowing pad locks off of doors, you will learn are movie magic.
3-Gun and IDPA (International Defensive Pistol)
Keeping up with the gun fighting theme we will discuss 3-Gun. 3-Gun is a type of shooting competition that uses; you guessed it, three guns. Competitors run through shooting courses wielding an assortment of weapons. The courses they run are both offensive assault type courses and reactionary defensive type courses. IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association) is strictly geared toward pistol shooting in a self-defense manner.
The three guns shooters use are rifle, shotgun, and pistol. They shoot both modern and antique style weaponry. There is even a whole sub-genre that caters to the cowboys at heart using old black powder six guns. So there is no limit to the types and classes of weaponry you can compete in. This is a great thing because no matter what you are armed with there is an opportunity to go out and test your skill.
Though there are categories for most weapons the higher level competitors usually favor high capacity semiautomatic guns. Their rifles will more than likely be the very popular AR-15 sporting its thirty round box magazine. The large magazine capacity cuts down on the need to reload and shaves off time which is very important because time and accuracy are the deciding factors of the winner.
The shotguns they use will more than likely be of the semiautomatic variety with an extended magazine tube. Shotguns are very powerful weapons at close ranges. Their only down side is a low shell count. This is over come with a tube extension cutting down on the number of shells a competitor would have to keep thumbing into the tube. Where an off the rack shotgun may have space for four to six shells these competition weapons may have ten or more.
Personally I would recommend a pump action shotgun because it allows a certain degree of control that I like but it is slow in its operation when compared to its semiauto counterparts. Three gun competitors like the semiautomatics because they only need to pull the trigger and the weapon will discharge and cycle fresh rounds into the breech all on its own. This allows them to engage targets faster and speed may be the difference between life and death when the lead starts flying.
The models of pistol vary widely. They are personal and there are almost as many different set ups to go with as there are competitors. Like the rifle and the shotgun the shooters favor high capacity semiautomatics. Again, they choose these for the same reasons, to engage more targets faster with less reloads. There are some that compete with modern combat revolvers but this is usually in its own category as the semiauto pistols would always have the advantage.
In the competitions there are no enemies to fire back at you so the stopping power of your weapon is not really a factor. They keep the weapon calibers pretty generic and have rules mandating how small of a caliber you can have. A competitor with a .22 caliber would have the advantage against one with a 9mm as far as speed and accuracy, taking into account that they had comparable shooting skill, but in a live situation the wielder of the 9mm would potentially do significantly more damage and fire less rounds. The rules try and keep the shooting as realistic as possible.
Some of the courses will have the shooters use a single weapon. There will be a pistol course, a rifle course, and a shotgun course. These are done outdoors and sometimes negotiating obstacles. At other times the shooters will use weapons in tandem. For example they may begin a course with their rifle and hit a few targets. Then engage a close target with their pistol, re-holster, and engage more targets with their rifle. Sometimes they will use all three weapons on a single course.
I mentioned IDPA shooting because it falls into this realm of realistic weapon competition. The courses they run are catered toward the armed civilian fighting in everyday situations. For example they may have the shooter sitting at a table and holding a newspaper in front of his/her face as a starting position. At the signal the competitor must drop the paper, draw their weapon, and begin engaging targets. They too will negotiate different obstacles.
Now I know what you are going to ask. Why is competition important for a prepper? I mean prepping is for a lawless environment and the very nature of competition is bound in rules. Well there is much to be gained from competition shooting. Not only will you sharpen your skill with three major weapon systems, you have the added bonus of pressure. The pressure of being put to the test, the pressure of the clock, and the pressure of the other competitors all add up and affect your shooting performance.
Learning basic marksmanship is important and combat shooting even more important, but acquiring the ability to shoot under pressure is vital to your training. Participating in 3-Gun and IDPA will improve your defensive skills to no end. This is the one art that every prepper should spend significant time training. The fist fighting weaponless skills create a solid foundation for every other skill and should not be overlooked, but given the modern battlefield you would do well to acquire 3-Gun skills and keep them sharp. Your life will depend on it.
No list of best survival martial arts would be complete without a section on knife fighting. Knives are probably the third oldest weapons known to man after the rock and the stick. Knife work is something every martial artist, warrior, or soldier should know. The applications of a good knife are priceless. Every army that sent a man into combat never sent him without his blade.
A good knife is like a field kit, suited to do a multitude of tasks. I am not speaking of the popular multi-tooled version with multiple blades and gadgets affixed to it. I am strictly speaking of the fighting man’s knife. The thick razor edged piece of steel that could take a life, peel a potato, and pry open a door. A soldier should never be without his knife.
Training to use a knife is effective at any level. From the most basic single slashing technique to the most proficient master, with a good blade and the motivation to kill, little can stand in the way of one with the will to overcome someone with only a knife. Statistically more people die every year by stabbing than by gun attacks. This goes to show that even though it is an ancient weapon it has not become obsolete.
It does not matter what form of knife fighting you choose to train in as long as you train in a knife fighting form. The most popular, and you cannot go wrong with any of these, are the Filipino styles of Arnis, Escrima, and Kali. These will teach you various ways to wield a blade to incapacitate your opponent. Everything from a defensive cut to get an attacker to release you to successfully defending against a gun wielding assailant.
Any form of modern military knife fighting will serve you well. They keep it very simple and only use techniques and methods they know will work under stress. When the shit hits the fan you can guarantee that you will be scared. You can pretend that I am not talking about you but let’s be honest with ourselves. When that happens your fine motor skill will go to shit and what you will be left with is the gross movements of whatever you trained. This is the strength of the modern military knife fighting.
They shy away from the fancy and dexterous techniques and focus solely on the simple stuff that has the highest degree of success. They want maximum damage with minimum effort. Not only that but modern military knife fighting must be taught to modern soldiers. This means it must be able to be transmitted to a very large number of people in a relatively short amount of time and still be effective. You may not have years to devote to training.
I am going to tell you a secret. Knives are better than guns. Why you ask? It is for an assortment of reasons. Knives cannot jam at the wrong moment, misfire, or run out of ammunition. Knives can be found anywhere and if the situation calls for it made with random materials. Knives are cheap. Most importantly knives are silent. They are the ideal tool when the situation calls for the removal of a sentry. Where sap or a club may do the same job, they are not absolute. Knives can end someone in a matter of moments.
I am going to finish our discussion with a bit of out of the box thinking. Most times when people discuss combat arts they say that the best policy is to run away. You train for years ten thousand ways to punch someone in the face only to come to a situation where you need to punch someone in the face and you do not punch them in the face instead you turn and run. We discuss what will happen when the sympathetic nervous system takes over.
Your adrenaline starts pumping and the fight or flight response kicks in. We learn that the best option is always flight but then we spend our entire martial career training for the fight. Parkour took the polar opposite approach. This activity turned natural human movements into, not only an art form, but a completely defensive martial art. And I am calling it a martial art because in its infancy it was heavily influenced by military obstacle courses.
The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. This is one basic law in Parkour. A practitioner will try to find the fastest and most efficient way to get from point “A” to point “B” treating all things in their path as obstacles to be negotiated. The goal when negotiating said obstacle it to keep the momentum going and keep moving forward. A good analogy would be Olympic hurdle runners timing their leaps with the steps of their sprinting.
Of course if you have ever seen a parkour practitioner comparing them to someone jumping hurdles is unfair. The parkour runner does so much more. They climb walls, swing around poles, dive and vault over obstacles with ease. Watching them in action is like going to the zoo and watching the gibbons chase one another.
If your attacker cannot catch you then they cannot hurt you. Even someone that may run slow can get away from someone faster than themselves if they can get over a wall the other cannot. Aside from being a pure defense it is a great form of resistance and cardio training. One that practices parkour will develop a body that is agile, flexible, and quite strong. Everything they do is a body weight maneuver that requires strength, skill, balance, and precision. Imagine how useful it would be running away from an angry mob through a graveyard of broke down cars.
It all really comes down to personal preference really. God built man with one head, one body, two arms, two legs, and all the same weaknesses. I think Bruce said it best on Return of the Dragon, “If it helps you to fight better, then use it!” He was right. You cannot do any worse than no training at all. So go out and find a club to join. If you are not afforded that option then gather a group that wants to learn and practice with them. There is tons of instructional material on YouTube. Take your time, learn it right, find out what does and does not work for you.
Here is my call to action. I want you to take this list and research each of the ten arts. Then do a search near your house and see what you find close by. Go there and join. Give it a try for six months at least. That is long enough to say you have given it decent consideration. If it is what you need then congratulations and continue on. If it doesn’t interest you then at least you know and hopefully you learned something. After that move on to the next closest place and start again. At some point you will find something you like or at the very least have a wide sampling of skills. Good luck… now go train!