After attending my introductory session people often ask "What can I do to improve the physical aspect of my self-defense skill-set?"
Before I give them specific advice one of the first questions I ask is,
What do you do for exercise? Or what athletic activities do you do?
If the answer is “nothing” we’ve got some work to do. I have seen vast gaps in initial capacity in participants I have trained over the past 6-7 years. By initial capacity, what I mean is, given a very short amount of time:
How well can you move? How quickly can you learn and adapt?
Quite simply: Your level of fitness or lack thereof can be a huge limiting factor in your ability to use your body to defend yourself.
If you are not doing anything active, the short answer to improving your self-defense capacity is to explore making physical activity part of your lifestyle. Find a type of exercise that you are interested in that you find fun and rewarding - bonus points if it is functional and builds strength. Not only will increase your quality of life in many ways, but it will also lay the physical foundation for self-protection. My clients who come in with a solid fitness background show increased body awareness, faster reaction times, and more forceful strikes - all key elements when you are in a life-or-death situation.
Sometimes people in sedentary jobs will tell me that they do not exercise, but want to get better at the skills I teach. There is a huge gap for those lacking practice with using their bodies.
Let’s set aside the mindset and non-physical. EVERYONE can benefit from learning how to understand the pre-cursors to attacks, how to improve their awareness and listen to their intuition.
Imagine the challenge of trying to teach someone the physical aspects of personal defense who has not done anything active besides moderate walking, for the past 5, 10, or 20 years.
“Ok, now we are going to go over using your palm/elbow/knee as a tool to generate force that you are going to hit somebody with as hard as you can.”
How does this stack up to someone who you can work with who has a moderately athletic background and therefore more practice with a range of motor-patterns and potentially greater strength?
Sometimes I don’t have the luxury of time, I’m hired for a single session, and one of my main goals is hoping that something sticks, and the participants will change their mindset or lifestyle to that of a more positive, active, and prepared lifestyle.
Bottom line is that you don’t have to be a cardio kickboxing champion, Crossfit games athlete, or ninja to be good at learning self-defense, but if you don’t live an active life, any physical challenge that comes your way will be more difficult.
Train smart, stay safe, and get off the couch.
NOVA Self Defense