A new martial arts teacher and perspective

Re-engaged with a new (old) teacher for physical security training recently. I’ve known this fellow for years, trained under him awhile ago, and trust him to teach me these potentially deadly techniques with the correct mindset. Specifically, one of being positive and solution-focused.

He was open to contracting with me for private lessons in a customized format, makes my dojo commute time only 15 minutes (by bicycle) each way, and meets with me during my lunch break. Cool.

We’re studying the same practical topics as krav maga (unarmed defense against chokes, strikes, kicks, knife, and gun), but from an aikido perspective. Aikido is known as the only martial art that is non-aggressive. While I appreciate that fact because I believe in seeking harmony, it also leads to criticisms of the art.

We are attempting to remedy these critiques by bringing in portions of other disciplines, such as Brazilian ju-jitsu (ground work/escape), Wing Chun (close combat), and Muay Thai (striking/kicking distance), with a focus on simultaneous defensive and offensive maneuvers.

Because all aikido-based techniques wait until the other person attempts to do something negative to you before responding, it is great for diffusing potentially negative situations. But in case they can’t be diffused, I’ve added weapons training to my sessions for the jo, kubotan, and stick fighting. Why those specific weapons? Because I already carry them every day.
  • A jo is basically a long stick. Between hiking sticks and garden tools, I spend a fair amount of my day with something like a jo already in my hand.
  • A kubotan can be any small cylindrical object. For me, that’s the space pen, small tactical flashlight (during travel) , or pocket multitool (not during travel) that are always in my pockets.
  • The fighting sticks are martial arts version of a policeman’s baton. I keep a collapsible ASP baton attached to my bedside so I can sleep better.

And why weapons training at all? Because a recent discussion with my wife made it clear to me that I will never be allowed to store guns in our house, loaded or unloaded. Scratch that, once the local coyotes and raccoons started attacking our chickens, guns made it onto the approved list. But this logic still applies for those (many) times when I am not armed. I can usually find something nearby to serve as a stick.

I do not disagree with any of her arguments; I could make all the same arguments myself. But it convinced me of one thing. If I cannot have a “weapon” in the house (e.g. a gun), then I need to become the weapon myself.

Which is going to take *alot* of work.

Physical security training begins

This part of my Physical Security task overlaps with my Personal Training task. Much of physical security is centered on hardening my home to burglars and would-be home invaders, but a portion of this task is the hardening of myself.

I’ll also (selectively) begin hardening my family. I want my wife to know how to physically defend herself and escape an attack should I be traveling for work. And I think it is one of my fatherly duties to raise children who know how to responsibly defend themselves and their friends, and to encourage others to think peacefully. As my young son said the other day, “Dad, I think there are alot of unfriendly kids in the world.”

Like many other parts of the Personal Training task, I’m now making up for items I wish I had learned as a youth or young adult. Things like how to solder, how to use a plumb line, or how to disable a person(s) attempting to hurt someone I love. It’s this last item for which I’ve started conditioning recently. I’m now studying martial arts for the first time in a focused, supervised manner at a local dojo.

My primary focus is how *not* to get in a fight; how to deescalate any situation that might cause someone to physically attack you. But part of martial arts is also focused on how to efficiently and effectively disable someone threatening yourself or your family.

Even though we train at speeds well below full speed, I’m going to be lucky to get through this training without breaking my nose at least once.

What are you preparing for?

Specifically, I am preparing my family and home for the following scenarios. Some are much more likely to happen than others.

1. Earthquake, volcanic eruption, severe winter storm, environmental meltdown
We live on a (currently inactive) fault line. We live near an overdue volcano. We lose electricity 1/2 dozen times each winter. The longest outage recently was 11 days in late December / early January. It was darn cold. But “environmental meltdown”? Isn’t that a bit dramatic? Watch this recent series from ABC and decide for yourself: Earth 2100: Civilization at Crossroads. Additional videos and more thoughtful commentary are here.

2. Terrorist attack (nuclear, biological, chemical)
Before 9/11 happened I would have given this a 1% chance of happening. But given that my day job revolves around importing Fair Trade products from Pakistan, a known terrorist-harboring country that is not remotely stable, my gut tells me the percentage likelihood of something else bad (bad like on the 9/11 scale of bad) happening during my lifetime is quite high. Especially since I live near a heavily trafficked West Coast port in the US.

3. Economic meltdown
Whether it is the Peak Oil theory (yes, I know there are lots of folks who think this is nonsense) or a US financial system meltdown (hey, that just happened!), this could lead to limited transportation + limited cash + looting. Lots of other folks go into the details of who, how, and why. It’s worth researching for yourself.

4. Home invasion (short-term burglary)
This is more than just a casual concern. While we live in a very safe town and neighborhood, once I had children my protective instincts and radar for this went *way* up. If you walk down the fairly logical path of any of the above scenarios, whoever *is* prepared (e.g. you have water and food for your family and neighbors) is likely going to become a target, particularly from those outside your neighbors and community.