There are a wide variety of martial arts schools and styles to choose from. Most of them promise to teach you how to protect yourself in a hostile situation. The truth is, they can teach everything they know, but it really is up to you on how well you perform in self defense situations while under pressure.
Knowing What to Do Under Pressure
Think for a moment you are surrounded by an assailant, robber, or a thug. Your life and wellbeing may be hanging in the balance. The pressure you will face may see overwhelming, and you may not know what to do. In some cases, you may react incorrectly, respond too quickly, or freeze all together.
When you are under pressure and something valuable is at stake, everything will change. Your mind and body will hone in and focus only on your basic motor skills. Your adversary will have the advantage, so fancy kicks will probably not work. If you are not used to this type of confrontation, you will be hesitant to do anything at all. The good news is there are ways to prepare yourself, and thankfully, a lot of martial arts schools do their best to prepare you.
Learning to Fight Under Pressure
Tournaments – Competing in local or national tournaments is a great way to prepare you to deal with pressure. It does not matter if it is full contact fighting or a sport karate tournament. Both avenues will provide some type of condition where something valuable is on the line.
I competed in local tournaments and won quite a few. I would prepare for a tournament early on and adrenaline would begin to pump. It was all I could think about. When the time came to compete, it became real to me and I fought against some reputable and more experienced fighters than myself. I remember not being able to hear or see anything around me but my opponent. I remember only focusing on the basic fundamentals and not so much on fancy kicks. I love fancy kicking, but I knew what I needed to do and the quickest way to get there.
Scenario Based Training – Second to tournaments would be setting up scenario based training. We used them in the military and is a great strategy in overcoming blind spots and weak areas. In the gym, it is very applicable, but without armored personnel carriers. It depends on your goals, but you could set up a multitude of applications and executions to hone your skills.
Repetition – Most importantly, you must practice. Practice everything from technique and conditioning your mind to deal with possible outcomes. The more you practice, the more everything will become second nature. If you perform good technique, drills, and scenarios long enough, everything will become instinctive.
The truth of the matter is the fact that your instructor can only take you so far. He or she can teach you the basic techniques, self defense strategies, and other ways to help you survive. But that is not going to be enough. You must know when and how to employ them appropriately. You must commit to training, learning, and growing so the martial arts and self defense you do know will be used with full potential. Then it will work for you.