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Monday, March 22, 2010

Empty Hand Survival, by Joe G.

We are living in a time when all has gone wrong and societies rules and conventions no longer hold true.  People no longer respect the sanctity of life and well established morals and honor have become a thing of the past. You have prepared yourself and your family to survive without the amenities we have grown accustomed.  You have enough food, a secure shelter, preparations for clean water and enough fuel and weapons.  At least you thought you did.

As the evaporation of society continues and you begin to watch your inventory of all things drastically shrink you begin to ask, what now.  Are you ready to venture outside your secure compound to begin to trade to rebuild your supplies?  Are you prepared to handle life without the security of your conventional weapons?  As the ammunition dwindles and ability to procure or even manufacture more is gone, what will you do?  Have you prepared yourself, let alone the others in your group, to handle yourself empty handed?

For thousands of years man was able to survive and even flourish with the empty hand.  The idea of training to protect yourself with your hands alone is frightening to many.  Being within arm’s reach of your adversary is not a comfortable situation to the untrained.  To the trained it can actually increase your confidence.  The internal knowledge to know you are ready and willing to confront any adversary, armed or unarmed, without hesitation or fear can have a calming effect.  To know you have control and are not a victim will bring a sense of security.

The question of what course of empty hand survival you should study becomes key.  Should you study self-defense or a true martial art?  Self-defense can prepare you for certain situations, but will limit you to those specific scenarios.  A true martial art will prepare you for ever changing scenarios.  Your course of empty hand survival is now narrowed to a true martial art.  The next and critical question is which of the hundreds of styles will be most effective?  The answer to this question will be answered differently by individual instructors.  You must be prepared to ask the important questions and filter out the hype and flash of the various styles.  As you begin your journey into the realm of the martial arts it will seem overwhelming.  Do you study Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, Filipino or many of the other country specific styles?  As you begin your search, any style that includes the word sport can immediately be discarded.  We are not looking to win a tournament and have a big trophy on the mantel. We are not looking to get our name in the paper or become the next internet YouTube sensation.  You can never forget the ultimate goal is empty hand survival
Many may have family or friends already studying in the martial arts.  Ask them for their opinions.  Begin visiting the various schools within your locality.  Ask if you can observe and possibly participate in a couple classes (without cost).  If the answer is no, then move on, do not waste any more time.  Any serious martial arts instructor should have no problem with such a request.  Ask for a brief history of the style and the instructors.  Ask if any of the instructors have had to utilize their skills in a real world situation. It is important to know how long the instructors have been teaching and how long it took them to reach the rank they currently hold.  If they claim to be a master and have only studied the art for a few years, thank them for their time and move on to the next style on your list.  To be a true master you have to put a many years of hard work and dedication.  Inquire as to what the progression schedules to advance and the associated fees.  Again, if the progression schedule is too fast and the fees increase as you move up or you must pay to advance, move on. 
You need to find the instructor that is doing this because of their love of the art and desire to pass on the knowledge they have learned.  They are doing this to honor their previous instructors and prepare their students for real life situation.  Those types of instructors are out there, they do exist.  Trust your instincts and first impressions of both the instructor and the school. Do not be taken in by the amount of stuff in the school.  They may have pictures, weapons and the latest training equipment strewn throughout the school.  There are many out there who will tell you what you want to here in order to take your money.  You must be able to see through the words get down to reality of the style.  Ask them if this is a style they can do effectively as they get older.  A true effective martial art will be just as effective for the 18 year old as well as the 80 year old.  When you find the instructor that will allow you to both watch and participate you are closer to the martial art of your choice.  Watch before participating as you can miss many things while participating.  Observe not only the higher ranking students, but the beginners as well.  Are the movements natural to the way one would normally move?  Are the beginners learning the foundations of the system or being thrown in with the higher ranking students?  As with all things, without a strong foundation it will fail.  You must be prepared to ask the question what if.  Your goal is to survive a real world situation.  Does the style effectively move from one technique to the next?  One cannot assume to have a single strike that will stop every attacker.  There are those out there that will require an extended serious of strikes to subdue or eliminate.  If you cannot effectively transition to the next technique in your arsenal, you will fail.

I began my martial arts study at the age of 10.  I was introduced to the arts through my father whom felt it was in mine and my brother’s best interest to begin our training.  For the past 30+ years I have been training in the very effective and deadly art of Chinese Kuntao.  The system has been passed down in its purest form throughout the years.  I have had the fortune of participating and seeing many other styles during my martial arts journey.  I have yet to see one that I feel would be more effective.  Many of the questions that were posed above have led me to continue my training in Kuntao.  The school I trained in is a non-profit organization and the school I operate charges no fee.  My instructors and I do this for the love of the art.  We are not motivated to promote or carry large numbers of students to generate income.  We do not have to be politically correct for fear of losing students.  The art is presented as it was passed down from generation to generation.  It is a pure fighting art. We do not participate in tournaments and you will not find us on the Internet.  The instructors throughout the years have had to utilize their skills in real life situations.  It works and works effectively.  The movements are natural and the Grandmaster and Masters of the system are just as effective in their advancing years as are those of the younger black belts.  The art has become second nature.  No thought is required when a situation arises nor do you have wonder what to do when the first tactic fails.  You move on immediately until you determine the fight is over.  The situation does not end when your opponent has said enough; you end the fight when you decide.  You must neutralize the attacker, this may be giving yourself the ability to flee or it may be terminating your aggressor.  You will learn how to read the situation and apply the necessary force without thinking. 

In my youth I had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or at least my aggressors thought so.  I found myself in a not so friendly place late at night in a large city.  I could see the situation was deteriorating quickly as the number of aggressors increased from 4 to 10.  Through my training I became calm and collected, I knew they could not all attack at once.  I positioned myself with my back against a wall, thus protecting my flank.  My attackers could only come in from the front and sides.   The first attacker struck quickly with a blow to my face.  I then proceeded to subdue him while the second attacker came in from the right.  As your peripheral vision will allow you to react quicker, I immediately recognized the threat and eliminated it.  As the remainder of the aggressors realized I was not going to be a victim they broke off their attack before they ended up like their comrades.  As you have read, I did not come out without a scratch, but my training caused me not to panic and continue.  The training allowed my fight or flight instinct to be fight.

 The task of selecting the most practical school may seem overwhelming and impossible.  However, if you take the emotion out of your search and be analytical and methodical you will find the system that best suits empty hand survival.  Do not wait, the longer you train the more effective you will become.  You will be able to make your art part of your life and everyday routine.  You will become an empty hand survivalist.