Self defense techniques and physical fitness.
There seems to be an inverse relationship between mastering self defense techniques and the physical strength or effort exerted by martial artists and self defense practitioners. The older, wiser and more experienced the practitioner, the less the effort, and the younger, less experienced the practitioner the greater the physical effort exerted!
I was watching an interesting program on jiu-jitsu and judo the other evening and it struck me how effortless the moves of the masters seemed to be. In contrast the less experienced players needed much more physical effort to achieve the same results.
Take throws for example. When correctly executed, by angling the attackers body correctly, by using the attackers momentum against them and by using natural levers and fulcrums a smaller, lighter, “weaker” opponent effortlessly threw a heavier, bigger attacker with devastating effects.
It highlighted my own experiences, both as a student and a teacher that younger, less experienced practitioners are hasty to mimic the results of their instructors instead of focusing on the action (the technique). Too much emphasis in placed on looking good and the focus is on the end result regardless of how it’s achieved.
Typically, less experienced players are younger and generally physically stronger. As we age, our physical strength and stamina are likely to wane, and then perfect (or near perfect) technique becomes ever more important.
Now, lets not discount physical ability when it comes to self defense – because it matters big time! There is no doubt that physical fitness – speed, strength, stamina play an important role in self defense. If you can outlast your opponent, or are stronger or faster then you have an edge from the get-go.
So, both aspects need attention but perhaps we need to separate these issues in order to stay focused. When in the gym lets focus on the strength, speed, stamina, but when in the training hall lets concentrate on learning (or even teaching) proper technique – timing, distance, angles, momentum, leverage.
When in a real-world self defense scenario you would certainly use both – great technique plus your strength, speed and stamina and then you truly have the best possible chances of success.