Archive for November, 2010

London Ju Jitsu Martial Arts Tip Of The Week: Train so you don’t have to fight!

November 27, 2010

In the original Karate Kid film, Mr. Miyagi asks Daniel why he’s learning Karate. The scene went something like this:

Daniel: Hey – you ever get into fights when you were a kid?

Miyagi: Huh – plenty.

Daniel: Yeah, but it wasn’t like the problem I have, right?

Miyagi: Why? Fighting fighting. Same same.

Daniel: Yeah, but you knew karate.

Miyagi: Someone always know more.

Daniel: You mean there were times when you were scared to fight?

Miyagi: Always scared. Miyagi hate fighting.

Daniel: Yeah, but you like karate.

Miyagi: So?

Daniel: So, karate’s fighting. You train to fight.

Miyagi: That what you think?

Daniel: [pondering] No.

Miyagi: Then why train?

Daniel: [thinks] So I won’t have to fight!

Miyagi: [laughs] Miyagi have hope for you.

A bit idealistic I know but I like the concept. Bullies like an easy target and once they know you’re not an easy target they will choose another one. The benefit of people you know understanding that you’re not a person who can be bullied is obvious, but what about people you don’t know?

Research in the science of Victimology has shown that a criminal’s selection of who they will attack is not random. The following is an example of one of these studies and subsequent studies have backed up these findings.

 The Grayson/Stein Study

In 1981 two researchers, Betty Grayson and Morris I. Stein, conducted a study to determine the selection criteria applied by criminals when selecting their victims. They videotaped pedestrians on a busy New York City street without their knowledge.

They later showed the footage to convicts who were imprisoned for violent offences, e.g. rapes and muggings. Grayson and Stein asked the convicts to identify people on the tape who would make easy or desirable victims. The results were interesting.

Within a few seconds, the participants had made their selections. What baffled researchers was the consistency of the people that were selected as victims. The criteria were not readily apparent. Some small, slightly built women were passed over. Some large men were selected. The selection was not dependant on race, age, size or gender.

Even the convicts didn’t know exactly why they selected as they did. To them, some people just looked like easy targets. The researchers made a more thorough analysis of those selected and it became clear that there was a pattern in the movement and body language of the people selected as “victims”. The following is a synopsis of the researcher’s findings:

 1.      Stride:

 People selected as victims had an exaggerated stride: either abnormally short or long. They dragged, shuffled or lifted their feet unnaturally as they walked. Non-victims, on the other hand, tended to have a smooth, natural gate. They stepped in a heel-to-toe fashion.

2.      Rate:

Victims tend to walk at a different rate than non-victims. Usually, they walk slower than the flow of pedestrian traffic. Their movement lacks a sense of deliberateness or purpose. However, an unnaturally rapid pace can project nervousness or fear.

 3.      Fluidity:

Researchers noted awkwardness in a victim’s body movement. Jerkiness, raising and lowering one’s centre of gravity or wavering from side to side as they moved became apparent in the victims analyzed. This was contrasted with smoother, more coordinated movement of the non-victims.

 4.      Wholeness:

Victims lacked “wholeness” in their body movement. They swung their arms as if they were detached and independent from the rest of their body. Non-victims moved their body from their “centre” as a coordinated whole implying strength, balance and confidence.

 5.      Posture and Gaze:

A slumped posture is indicative of weakness or submissiveness. A downward gaze implies preoccupation and being unaware of one’s surroundings. Also, someone reluctant to establish eye contact can be perceived as submissive. These traits imply an ideal target for a predator.

 In his book, “The Danger From Strangers,” author James D. Brewer quotes one of the researchers who conducted the above mentioned study, “Grayson is convinced that when people understand how to move confidently they can, ‘be taught how to walk that way and substantially reduce their risk of assault'”

So how does training in martial arts help? It’s my belief that as you train in martial arts you become more confident and your body language changes to reflect this. I’ve seen many of my students confidence levels noticeably grow as they’ve become more proficient at Ju Jitsu. You also become more aware of your surroundings as you train. For example once you understand how dangerous it can be to allow an opponent to attack you from behind, you become more conscious of the danger of keeping your earphones in or being distracted on your mobile phone, especially late at night. So the increased awareness, the increased confidence and the change in body language that confidence brings address a lot of the reasons a criminal might choose you as the victim. To me therefore, learning self defence is like a double edged sword. On the one hand it makes you less likely to be attacked; on the other you have a better chance of defending yourself if you are! Mr. Miyagi might have been wiser than we think!

London Ju Jitsu Martial Arts Tip Of The Week: Why the next belt is important

November 19, 2010

Let me open this article with a statement. The colour of your belt does not indicate how good you are at martial arts. I doubt that there would be many martial artists who would disagree with that. If that’s the case then why use the belt system at all? I’ve trained with many people over the last thirty odd years that never grade and say they are not interested in belts. Is the reason a lack of ego or a lack of determination? Everyone is different of course and I’ll let you judge when you hear it. If you don’t grade however, how do you test your skills? Unless you are fighting in competitions or for real several times a year the truth is that you can’t. At London Ju Jitsu we only allow people to start on the syllabus for the next belt once they’ve passed the previous one. Our definition of passing a grading is as follows:- That the candidate can demonstrate each technique in that syllabus in such a manner that the examiners believe the candidate has a good chance of executing that technique in a real fight. That does not mean the technique has been mastered as improvements can always be made no matter what level you attain. It does show a level of competence however. It also shows that the candidate can demonstrate those techniques in a pressure situation. It’s nowhere near the same pressure as in a fight of course. Even so, demonstrating in front of your instructors, fellow students and spectators is still a lot harder than performing the technique when training in the Dojo.

Some students are reluctant to grade as they don’t feel they are good enough and want to practice the syllabus for a particular belt for longer. I admire that but there is a danger that they’ll stagnate if they repeat the same syllabus for too long. Trust the advice of your instructor. He or she should know when you’re ready as no instructor likes failing people or seeing their students fail. Don’t be too downhearted if you do fail however as we can all have an off day. How you come back from adversity will really show your character and I’ve seen a quite a few students return with more vigour and determination when retaking that belt and subsequent ones.

In short I believe the belt system is a good one. It gives us realistic goals and a steady measure of our progress. The journey from novice to black belt would be too long and steep for most of us. Having a series of small attainable steps helps us focus and gives us encouragement with each one we pass. So practice hard for your next one!

London Ju Jitsu Martial Arts Tip Of The Week: Just Do Something!

November 13, 2010

During training this week my students were practicing defences from random grabs, e.g. strangles, wrist grabs, bear hugs etc. If they were grabbed in a way they hadn’t experienced before some would hesitate before trying something and some would stop and say “sorry I haven’t done this one”. This is one of the dangers of training in martial arts. We practice defending from specific punches, kicks and other attacks and build up a database of responses. If we are faced with an attack that we’re not used to we look into our “defence file” for the appropriate response and find that folder empty. That is why some exponents of striking arts such as Karate or Taekwondo struggle against the more grappling arts if the grappler gets close or the fight goes to ground. The same is true for the grappler if he/she can’t get close enough to use their skills. A street brawler wouldn’t hesitate as they would just punch, kick, bite or scratch as they have no formal training. We should learn from this and practice what to do when we don’t know what to do. Just react as the brawler would. Punch, kick, stamp or whatever. In other words, just do something! As the saying goes, he who hesitates is lost.

London Ju Jitsu Martial Arts Tip Of The Week: You can’t fight if you can’t breath!

November 6, 2010

As anyone who has had a fight or sparring session will testify, it is amazing how quickly you get tired when pitting your skills against someone else. As the title of this article states, if your body is concentrating on getting oxygen it is difficult if not impossible to apply your technique in the correct way. The mind too is affected by tiredness resulting in poor decisions and slow reactions. It is therefore advisable to supplement your training with some sort if cardio vascular training, e.g. running, cycling or swimming. Remember this is only a supplement because as with any martial art or sport the only training that really prepares you is practicing that particular discipline. It is also important to remember how much nerves, adrenaline and of course your opponent will affect you during a fight, competition or grading. So if you’re practicing for a three minute contest you should ensure you can last for at least six minutes at maximum effort in training. If you’re training for a grading you should ensure you can go through the whole syllabus at least twice without stopping and still demonstrate your techniques to the best of your ability. Your fitness will improve while training in the Dojo of course but if you want to progress quicker then run that extra mile!