Of Meat and Tools
Long time readers of the blog will recall that I prefer using a weapon in my self-defense strategy if I possibly can.
The truth is, part of the reason I prefer weapons over empty hand training is that I am painfully aware that I'm not the optimal person to participate in any kind of physical conflict.
The ideal person to initiate or survive a physical conflict is a male in his late teens to early twenties, with enough free time or a job to keep him in phenomenal physical condition. Add martial arts training to this, and you get a warrior.
This is why these are the people who become soldiers in our culture (heck, in most cultures).
I am literally none of the things an ideal person for physical conflict should be. I am a short, middle aged female in average physical condition for my age, with a full time desk job.
If someone offers me violence, it's very likely that the attacker will be bigger, stronger, and younger than I am. He - and it will probably be a he, going by statistics - may be armed with a firearm or other weapon.
I can do one of two things.
I can accept the inevitable and hope that I'm not chosen as a victim, or, if I am, that the attacker is generous enough not to hurt and/or kill me if he feels like it.
Or, I can train in the martial arts and try to give myself a better chance to survive.
We all know which choice I made.
It seems to me that having made that choice, I need to work hard to help make the odds less... awful.
Understanding how to use weapons - both intentional and improvised - is one way I can do that. I need to know how to use them to my advantage, and how to defend against them as best as I am able. I should know what a weapon can and can't do, either in my hands or in someone else's. I need to have a realistic understanding of the risks involved.
Weapons are far more common in modern society than we want to believe. Many of my empty hand friends will say, "Nobody walks around with a weapon".
Guys, come on, you know this isn't true. For one, a person in the United States is far, far more likely to be murdered with a weapon than by someone using hands and feet alone. It's not even close. I can't find good consistent statistics on assault and robbery (with weapons) but I bet we'd find a similar trend (more WITH weapons vs. without weapons).
Think about it - you, or many (or most) of the people you know have a pocket knife. Those aren't allowed on airplanes for a reason. We won't even go into the other objects many people keep for self defense (often in their vehicles) that are relatively innocuous in other contexts (like baseball bats and tire irons).
Then there's the fact that improvised weapons are literally all around us. The only time they aren't is if we're naked in an empty room. Given that's more of a sci-fi movie situation versus real life... there's ample opportunity to acquire a weapon most of the time.
So if weapons are a part of our daily lives - and they are - you'd be remiss not to study weapons as a martial artist if you are serious about self defense. If you're not, you're not - lots of martial artists aren't, and anything I say here won't change your point of view. Have fun with that.
Even if it weren't true - the impact of aging, injuries, and illnesses over time will, over time, make those of us who are young, male and in top physical condition far less ideal to engage in physical conflict. It seems to me that the study of weapons helps compensate for that decline in ability over time.
Either way, if you have tools available, it seems to me to be wise to know how to use them and defend against them. Meat is fine and dandy, but when push comes to shove, a tool can make a huge difference in the outcome.
How do you train with (or against) weapons? I'd love to know what you think!