How many times have you heard the statement, “Take our kickboxing class and learn to protect yourself while you get in shape?” This is a marketing ploy - it just isn't possible to "learn" self defense when you are participating in a class that is focused on fitness training. Why do I make this statement? There are several reasons, some of which I will cover in this article and the next one!
Typical kickboxing fitness classes are formatted in one of two ways:
· Choreographed class formats where punches, kicks, “evasion” movements, etc. are all performed to specific tempo music. Guess I’d better have my iPod or Walkman with me when I walk down the street in case I am attacked – then I can turn on the tunes (maybe “Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting”) and go to it on my assailant! Or
· Equipment training formats (circuit, interval, circuit/interval, drill, etc.) where techniques are executed with speed, power and focus against inanimate objects that cannot hit back!
Now, don’t get me wrong – I love these classes. Kickboxing fitness classes are one of (if not) THE best types of workouts (I have been teaching them for over 30 years and training/certifying instructors since the early 1990's). And, after you participate in a real self defense training program, these types of classes can potentially provide a way to practice the physical self defense techniques and movements that you learned in a self defense training program. Practicing movement patterns is necessary to improvement your abilities. However, there is a huge difference between simply performing movement patterns of strikes, blocks, evasion techniques, etc. in the non-threatening environment of a fitness studio versus being able to proficiently perform the necessary physical self defense techniques and movements during the high stress, adrenaline rush of a simulated attack in a self defense class or a real attack on the street.
Claims of “learning self defense while you work out” are misleading and could cause serious problems for those who participate in the training (and think they are becoming “invincible”) and for the trainers. Let’s explore, in greater detail, a few of the reasons for this.
Reason #1 - The physiological and emotional responses to a real attack cannot be simulated in the “safe” environment of a fitness class. To be practical and effective in preparing you to fight for your life, true self defense training must provide you with as realistic experience as possible. Could you remain calm and in control of your physical and/or emotional reactions, actions and thought processes during a real physical confrontation? Until you experience a real (as realistic as possible) threat of your personal safety, chances are that you will not know how you would react to a perceived danger or threat against your personal safety. How would you respond (avoid the situation, exit the scene, use verbal self defense, or use physical self defense)?
Reason #2 - Experiencing the “adrenaline rush” that results from a real-life personal safety threat (and how it affects your physical capabilities and mental capacities) is the best way to realistically prepare you for a real personal safety confrontation. Where and when, in a fitness class, does this take place? Fitness class participants perform and practice the movement patterns similar and related to self defense training techniques, but not under the same physical and emotional duress (adrenaline rush) that would be experienced in a real attack.
In the next article, I will continue to discuss the reasons why a fitness class does not teach you how to protect yourself! And, please do NOT think that I am suggesting that you stop taking kickboxing fitness classes! Not at all! I am simply asking you to understand that you won't be actually "learning" self defense in these classes. But, you will be improving your physical conditioning and physical/emotional/mental health - all of which will have a positive effect on your personal safety! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me! Look for the next article on this subject - coming soon! In the meantime, Remember, "One Body, One Life, One Choice!" Be Smart & Stay Safe!