Martial arts and Life-coaching

Yesterday, I put this on my Facebook page:

Somebody just asked me why I don’t offer life-coaching based on what I learned from the martial arts. I replied that if you strip MAs down to their essence, it’s all about injuring, maiming and killing people. Sure, there is more to it but that stuff gets added to it and is not at the center of the arts.
So asking that kind of advice from me is like asking Hannibal Lecter to be your therapist. Sure, he has the required degree but that is not what he is at the core level.
Got a blank stare in response… Maybe I should have just smiled and said “That’s a great idea.”

I received a bunch of comments on this, some of which I agree with where as others not so much, which prompted me to write this post.

 

First, a couple of things to make sure we’re on the same page:

  • With “Life-coaching”, I mean the “Empowerment now!” or “Believe in yourself and become confident!” and “Achieve inner happiness!” style services some people offer. That was what the person who asked me the original question meant, so that’s what I’m responding to. Nothing else. If your definition of life-coaching is different from this, that’s fine. But understand that we’re talking about different things then.
  • I’m sure there are life-coaches out there who do a good job, it’s just that I haven’t met any of them. Doesn’t mean there aren’t any though. It only means I don’t know them. That said, you can imagine my opinion of their services isn’t all that high…
  • I’m not saying the life-coaches I have in mind when I write here are all bad. What I am saying is that I have reservations about the job in and of itself. These two are not the same thing.

Now that we have this out of the way, let’s get started. What’s my beef with using martial arts as life-coaching? Well, like I said, I don’t think it’s the best source of information for that goal. Which isn’t to say there are no valuable lessons to learn from martial arts, lessons that apply to everybody. But those lessons can be learned elsewhere too. Perhaps even better.

The only lessons you can’t really find elsewhere (barring certain exceptions) are those related to fighting. And then we’re back to the killing and maiming part, which is what martial arts amount to at their most basic level.

I’ll get back to all that but first, here are some of the responses I received. First from Craig:

I agree, the physical manifestation of the techniques sometimes require maiming or killing, however that is not the purpose of martial arts. The purpose is to protect life, be it your own, your loved ones, your country, maybe even your enemy (if you can). Training is to become more proficient at protecting, so you hopefully won’t have to maim or kill and if you do you are clear about it and can do it as respectfully and professionally as possible. ethic > tactic > technique. So I’d say the center of the arts are to protect the tactic and techniques came from that, otherwise haven’t you become what you were training to defend against?!

I agree, up to a point. The purpose is indeed to protect life, primarily your own. But how do you do that? What approach do the martial arts take to achieve that goal? They do it by injuring, maiming and killing those who would threaten your life. Who wants to get life-style advice from a guy who specializes in that?

 

Fred replied:

The tactics I learn from MA’s I do use in my everyday life ,it made me a better sensitive person to others & more aware of myself

I already wrote about martial arts in every day life a while ago, so I’ll refer to that post on a general level. To Fred in particular, I’d say that the things he mentions are fortunate byproducts of the training, but not the essential goal.  More on this below.

 

Fred continues:

It also taught me to kick ass & take names (protect myself and others ) if need be

I hear this reasoning about protecting others a lot but when I ask for specifics, I don’t get a lot of positive responses. What I mean is this:

Of all the traditional martial arts, how many of them focus on actively protecting others?

Not protecting yourself, other people.

I don’t know many…

And of those styles that do teach this aspect, what percentage of the whole curriculum is dedicated to this?

Of those I’ve seen, it isn’t much…

I see a whole lot of arts pay lip service to the concept of protecting others but then they spend the majority of their time practicing how to defend yourself. Well, not to put a fine point on it, but as soon as you are responsible for protecting another human being, everything changes about the way you fight. Which means you have to train in a radically different way.

The case I’m making is that in the vast majority of martial arts, this specific training is totally lacking. If it is, here’s a challenge for you:

Please find me a traditional martial art, one that isn’t modernized or has had these aspects added to it by the instructor from other sources, that covers things like:

  • Embussing and debussing. Doesn’t matter that there were no cars in China 300 years ago. They had other means of transportation where the same principles would apply: handling the inherent vulnerability of for instance getting on or off a horse, carriage or whatever.
  • Traveling. How do you drive? What are the protocols? How do you know what to look out for while driving? When to stop and when to keep on going? How much distance do you leave between you and others? Again, this applies to cars but also more ancient means of transport.
  • Securing your home. Which type of house do you choose and why? Where do you live? What kind of windows, doors, etc. How do you lock them?
  • Cuing your VIP. Which signals do you use to make sure the VIP follows protocol? How do you train him/her to use them?
  • Planning. What is your checklist? What are the risks of one activity or environment over another. And why?

I know of not one traditional martial art that teaches any of this. Yet if you want to protect others, this is how the professionals do it. The reason they do it is because it works. They learn specific skills and use safety protocols to make sure somebody else is safe. Skills that are totally different from those needed to keep only yourself safe.

So I repeat: if the goal of martial arts is to protect others, then why isn’t there any of this in the curriculum of the vast majority of those arts?

My answer: because that is not the goal of those arts. Their goal is killing, maiming and injuring others.

 

Some more from Fred:

Mostly I use my training to identify & avoid potential situations of conflict

I’ll use the same logic as before:

Show me the arts that have a systematic and in-depth curriculum on the topics of avoidance, de-escalation and basically handling problematic situations without resorting to violence, however low-level violence it may be.

I don’t know of any.

Today, we take these things for granted but back in the 80s and before that, virtually nobody but a handful of instructors were covering these topics. Marc MacYoung, Peyton Quinn and a few more were the first to say “Hold on, there’s something missing in the martial arts. How about learning not to get into trouble in the first place?” You simply couldn’t find those skills in almost any of the martial arts taught at that time. Later on, instructors started implementing what these pioneers said was so important. But they didn’t get it from the traditional curriculum. They added it themselves.

So if the martial arts are supposed to teach you to avoid violence, then why are there virtually none of them that actually teach that. Instead, what they seem to spend the most time on is… Teaching injuring, maiming and killing others.

Was there no need for avoidance in Asia, a few hundred years ago?

Was it just assumed that you’d have to fight every time?

The evidence seems to suggest this as almost all traditional arts have either not incorporated avoidance into their curriculum or it is only present in such a low percentage that it is meaningless by comparison. So I humbly submit that martial arts don’t teach avoidance at all. If I’m wrong, please show me a list of martial arts (again, not modern ones, traditional ones that have this built into their system from the beginning) that teaches in detail how to avoid fights.

 

One more from Fred:

In the same breath our training enables us to have enough control not to us more force than needed & to better assess the situation That’s what training is for

Same reasoning: please show me the arts that have built this into their curriculum from the get go.

I don’t know of any.

Learning to control the force you use, assessing the situation and determining what level is appropriate is basically learning some sort of use of force continuum. This is exceedingly difficult to train, let alone get right. It’s not enough to say you offer students different techniques for different levels of danger. You have to train them specifically to pick the right response, it isn’t automatic. Just because you learn both a control hold and a neck break as a response to the same attack, doesn’t mean you’ll automatically pick the right response when somebody comes at you like that. That’s not how real violence works.  There is a need for specialized training to teach you how to make the right decisions. Nowadays, this is mostly done by using scenario training or force-on-force training. I don’t see anything similar in traditional arts on that front either…

So if this is an important factor (and it sure as hell is in my opinion), why are the martial arts again lacking here?

My response? Well, by now you can guess what it is…

Here’s my challenge to you:

Find me a curriculum for an Asian martial art that predates WWII that has all the aspects I mentioned before: de-escalation, planning, prevention, safety protocols, a specific training methodology for these, etc.

By that I mean documented proof that these things are an integral part of the art. Not something that is mentioned in passing. Not something that teachers have added in the last 20-30 years.

If all these things are part and parcel of the arts, then it shouldn’t be hard to show me that proof and make me eat my words…

I’ll even help you out: the only style I know that comes even close is Katori Shinto Ryu. And even this one, we can argue percentages.

Now I’m not having a go at Fred here. In fact, I agree with most of what he said in that these are things we should incorporate in our training. Those are the things a smart person recognizes as important for self-defense. But to the best of my knowledge, traditional Asian martial arts don’t offer much in that regard. Indirectly, yes. But not directly.

 

My point is this: if I want those things because they are important, then I want the most effective way of learning them. If martial arts don’t give them to me (as I think I’ve given enough argumentation for), then I’ll get them elsewhere.

Before I explain this, I’d like to point to Bob Orlando’s book, Martial Arts America. In it, Bob explains how there is a natural cycle for martial arts. Paraphrasing, it goes like this:

  • Fighting techniques. People fight, discover techniques that work and just keep on using them.
  • Fighting arts. These techniques are organized and taught in a more structured way.
  • Martial arts. Other things are added to the mix: philosophy, sometimes even religion, meditation, forms, partner drills, breathing exercises, conditioning, etc.
  • Martial sports. The techniques are altered to allow a (more or less) safe way of competing with them. Rules and restrictions apply, along with weight classes.

When sports fighters then get into a life and death fight, they find out that their techniques don’t work as well as in the ring or on the mat. So they strip them down to the essence and search for techniques that do work well in the street or when survival is at stake.

And we’re back to square one.

 

Now we are precisely at the point I mentioned in my initial response:

If you strip MAs down to their essence, they’re all about injuring, maiming and killing people.

That is the essence of what is taught. It doesn’t mean that you have to use it as such all the time and go berserk on everybody who looks at you. It means that you shouldn’t mistake the arts for something they, at the most fundamental level, are not.

All the other things that got added to them when they turned from a fighting system into a martial art, you can get those better and in a more effective way elsewhere:

  • Physical conditioning. Join a gym, go running, whatever. Lots of choices here.
  • A peaceful mind. Learn to meditate. Works a lot better and faster too.
  • To become a good person. Pick a religion. Most of them teach this in principle, though organized religion is a bit of a mess. If you’d rather not, study philosophy and ethics. Loads and loads of systems to pick from. Some of them are even thousands of years old…
  • Protect others. Take a close protection course. You’ll learn more on this topic than you’ll lever find in martial arts.

I could go on but this post is already pretty long. You get the point.

Mind you, there is nothing wrong with the fact that some of these aspects are also present in martial arts. That’s a good thing. But like I said, they are fortunate byproducts of the training or things that got added to them. They are not a the core of the arts.  Which brings me to my original response:

Why would you want to learn life-skills from somebody who is in essence always practicing how to maim, injure or kill others?

If your goal is empowerment, self-confidence or inner peace, there are tons of more appropriate specialists who can teach you that.

 

Conclusion

Does that mean that martial arts have no value, other than learning to cripple other people?

No, that’s not what I meant at all. There is value in the training beyond learning to fight. But if you are real honest about it, the mere fact that you acquire those other skills via such a gruesome path in my opinion disqualifies you as the most appropriate person to teach people who are looking for those woo-woo things the life-coaches offer. Maybe a priest, philosopher, therapist or psychiatrist is more suited for this task.

That also doesn’t mean you can’t teach people other things than just maim, rip, kill! I’m not claiming that either. What I am suggesting is some humility and acknowledging that at the core, at the most basic and fundamental level, your art teaches you to use violence. If you can accept that and everything that comes with it, I believe you might have the right attitude towards somebody who comes looking for advice. If not, then I’ll just have to disagree with you.

 

UPDATE:

Adam just left an interesting comment here below and it seems I’ve given the wrong impression. To set the record straight:

I didn’t write that I don’t coach people.

I do and have been doing so for a long time.

I’m routinely hired to help people, to give advice, do consulting work, etc.

For several years now, I’ve also been teaching workshops and seminars to entrepreneurs, teaching them a mental framework inspired in part by martial arts and combat sports. It’s not something I have written much about here, other than perhaps mentioning it once or twice. Mostly because I don’t want to turn my blog into a business oriented one.

But just because I don’t talk about it much, doesn’t mean I am not active in that field. There is a lot more to my life than what you can read about here… :-)

However, there are certain things I do not do as a consultant or coach (which was the whole point of this post):

  • I don’t promote martial arts as a way to personal empowerment or inner peace. That’s what the life-coaches I wrote about promise their clients. I don’t, because of the reasons I explained here.
  • This also means that I don’t talk about ethics much, don’t pontificate, nor do I spout tidbits of Asian philosophy while looking all mysterious.  That is not how I see martial arts. Others might, but I don’t.
  • I don’t tell people how to live their lives. I’m not qualified to do so (few people are IMHO.) Even if I were, I wouldn’t use martial arts as an example for that goal.
  • I explicitly state that I only offer information I believe to be accurate because it has worked for me and others I’ve counseled. But  my word is not gospel. Meaning, I present people with options they might not have considered, hand them tools they don’t seem to know about. That is all. The feedback has been overwhelmingly possible so far, so I think this approach is a good one.

So I’m not saying coaching people is bad, not at all. Nor am I saying that I have no experience doing so, on the contrary. What I am saying is that I don’t use martial arts much as a vehicle for coaching skills that are not directly related to these arts. I mainly use my experience of being self-employed for 18 years, having run a corporate gym, having been involved in an IT start-up, being a writer, etc. The experience I got from those activities has proven much more relevant than anything martial arts has had to offer.

 

I’m also not saying Martial arts is useless for anything other than fighting. I repeat, I did not say that. I said that it is IMHO not the best tool in the toolbox if your goal is to teach people happiness, purpose in life, feeling empowered, etc.

Is it impossible to achieve those things with martial arts? Nope. But if you have to pick a tool to help you achieve them, martial arts should probably not be your first choice.

 

I hope that clears things up a bit.

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Comments

  1. This is a really great article Wim!!! I’m glad you can spread see the truth here and share it with people who may have understood what martial arts really are. Would you agree that when it comes to self defense training(combatives), martial arts play a role in it (for the whole injuring, maiming, and killing part), while the rest of the information in a self defense ciriculum is centered around de-escalation, running away from a potential assault, awareness skills, and partner protection (using martial arts techniques/tactics and adapting them for a partner) as well as other tactics I didn’t mention?

    I also want to ask when it comes to the specific situation where you may have to protection your friend, girl friend, family member, etc you would have to create your own ways of applying your martial art training so that it protects your partner? So for example someone who knows combat sanshou will have to create way to address a threat and prevent it from attacking him and his partner using his sanshou.

    • It depends Denis. Combatives is supposed to center around those things but there is no one standard. Every teachers shows it differently.
      As for your own training, I think it’s important to have certain safety protocols in place when you’re out and about with others. Which means you have to train these people in them too. The art isn’t important IMHO, the protocols are.

  2. I’ll think there is confusion about the way some arts have manifested themselves nowadays.
    History (in Japan) shows us that, for example, Karate was a empty hand solution for certain people.
    Later on, somebody got the splendid idea too gather a lot of kids in a schoolyard, give them all the same suit and have them do exercises in a certain way: to obtain discipline… it was found neccesary in society at those times …. Yeahhh, you could call that life coaching …. and exersizing …
    Personally I prefer my arts the way they are: as arts.

  3. Nice article Wim.

    As far as life coaching goes, I think you would have something to offer. In what you do, you seem to be quite successful. I don’t know you at all but you seem to be quite competent at martial arts, you seem to be a good writer and thinker and seem to be happy in what you do.

    If a person was interested in achieving similar things to what you have, you would be well qualified to help such people achieve similar goals to those you have already achieved or continue to strive towards bettering.

    If you have received such suggestions or questions in the past, this indicates there are people who want to achieve things you appear to have already achieved. It seems people want to pursue a path you are perceived as having already walked. In this regard, it makes sense you would have something to offer people.

    Some things you be able to help people with who want to follow a path similar to yours would be:

    Goal setting,
    organising priorities,
    establishing a specific training program for specific purposes,
    time management,
    physical conditioning,
    and I am sure many other aspects.

    This is just a short list. Agree, most of these things are not found in martial arts training but you would need to be competent at these things and others would be interested in being ‘coached’ in these life aspects by somebody who has been there and done that. You may have developed these skills through trial and error but it is likely you have developed systems or found other systems suitable for yourself.

    By becoming competent, even talented in what you do, you would have developed skills, outside of pure martial arts but what helps develop martial arts skill as well as balancing other life aspects, that others would be interested in learning if they intended to follow a path similar to yours.

    It is possible your own modesty has lead you to overlook your own attributes others may be interested in learning.

    Just some quick thoughts on the matter.

    Regards,

    Adam

    • Thanks for the kind words Adam. I’ll update the post in a bit because from your response, I think I’ve given the wrong impression. Check back in an hour or so.

  4. Great post Wim.

    While training or teaching martial arts doesn’t necessarily qualify anyone as a “life coach” (I’m extremely skeptical of all such things anyway), I do find that functional martial arts practice can teach a person a great deal…often more than many other pursuits.

    What I’m about to say is less true of most martial arts STYLES, and primarily applies to the search for and practice of functional martial arts for self defense. In real combat/fighting, there are no rules. Your opponent can and will break social conventions, use them against you, “cheat”, etc. There are no rules as to what can and can’t be used. There are no limitations other than the natural limits of physics, etc. The understanding of this, in a JKD sense (no way as way, no limitations), is incredibly liberating. In a real, honest search for functional martial arts you must necessarily avoid attachment to any particular idea or authority, and explore everything. You don’t find this in most sports (martial and otherwise) or particular martial styles, due to the limitations imposed by the rules or style. So a person who makes an honest effort toward something with no rules, will realize that many limitations are artificial. And once he/she does, it’s not so difficult to apply that to all aspects of life. THAT, is rare.

    Of course you don’t have to use martial arts as a vehicle to teach or promote such a way of thinking…limitless thinking…but martial arts can reveal that limitless way, and dramatically increase your options and quality of life. So it’s not entirely surprising to me that some functional MA practitioners would feel they have a lot to offer others, philosophically.

    Having an effective system to do that though…that’s another thing entirely. And as you said, there are other paths to the same destination that may be a lot faster and more effective than martial arts. Because in the end…yeah…martial arts are about injuring or killing people. The end.

    My last blog post was on that very topic…martial arts aren’t even self defense. Self defense is about avoiding trouble or surviving an attack with minimal damage. Martial arts are about taking out an opponent. Possibly, people who have practiced martial arts, learned about themselves, and realized their own true potential…have mistakenly attributed that to the martial arts vs. what they’ve learned from their own search for “truth” or functionality. I agree with you 100%…at their core, martial arts are simply systems for taking people out.

    • Yeah, much as it grieves any aikidoka to confess this, even the most effective parts of our art are aimed at disabling an aggressor. We just try do it with as little effort on our part, and as little damage on their parts, as possible.

  5. Wim,

    I agree with most of your premise here, but…disagree with the bit about you not being qualified as a life coach. (I will now state that my definition of a life coach is as different from yours as our definition of martial arts is from the Holy Tofu crowds Tai Chi.)

    Just for the same reasons that you present, I would argue that Martial Arts is a better suited vehicle for personal betterment than most. As far back as the Daoist writings of Zhuangzi and Liezi in China, the idea that practice of the martial arts can lead to an elevated state of mind where perfection of skill creates perfect mental focus was presented, and does it centuries before the invention of Chan Buddhism (that practiced at the famous Shaolin monastery).

    I, though, tie martial arts to the pursuit of mastery, and believe in the Mastery Concept, more here (http://fsmap.blogspot.com/2012_08_01_archive.html). Essentially see the pursuit of mastery in any art to be life changing.

    I also think that specifically the pursuit of a martial art gives ones a completely different paradigm, one where fear no longer rules. A teacher of mine related the story of his son visiting after completing the Army Ranger School. He told his son how different he appeared, calmer and harder to provoke, his son’s reply was that there was no need to get upset about small things that really couldn’t hurt him (at the time it was phrased more like, why get bothered, I could kill them easily.)

    It is this take life on without fear and overcome obstacles type of attitude, and problem solving approach that a mature martial artist can certainly bring to the table as a life coach.

    • Richard,

      If you have a different definition than me, then I agree that things are different. Also, MAs as a path to an elevated state of mind is something I totally agree with. The question is: which state of mind and can a non-martial artist replicate it without following the same path?
      The arts doe indeed change a person but can that person teach others to do this without them following the same training? I’m not sure, kind of doubt it. You can give information that might be important or practical for them. But actually lead them there? I really don’t know.

      • From my experience with coaches (typically not life coaches, but executive coaches), they don’t lead their clients anywhere, but instead set up a framework of accountability and offer prodding/encouragement, like any other coach would for an individual athlete.

        I guess in my mind, if a person were to approach you to be coached, they would expect some martial arts related exercises/material.

        BTW, it was unsaid in my last comment, great post, thought provoking in more ways than one.

        • Things are a bit different here. I’ve seen life coach seminars being offered in weekend courses with certification by Sunday afternoon. And those people are qualified to help people lead meaningful and happy lives? I don’t think so… I’ve met too many of that kind (some meant well, others were only in it for the dough) and seen the damage they can do.
          Like I said, I’m sure there are good ones out thee too. I just haven’t met them.

  6. Great article, Wim. And intersting responses. I agree with you on the life coaching aspects of the MA. Too often I have seen students come up to an instructor and ask what to do with personal problems or even financial advise. That is definately not a job of an MA instructor or Sensei. Keep up the great work…J

  7. Very interesting post Wim.

    There is evidence to suggest that training martial arts helps people improve their lives. It’s what Duhigg called a “keystone habit”. Discipline in one part of life helps with discipline in others and the benefits snowball. I think that this is what people think is the “life coach” effect and mistakenly believe that martial arts coaches can also be life coaches (whatever life coaches might do).

    On pre-WWII traditional arts having a de-escalation syllabus. The old forms of Taiji (Erle Montaigue) that I’ve studied are all about taking people out, applications are somewhat brutal. However, some on-guard positions emphasise making yourself as small as possible and the posture itself is submissive. This suggests that de-escalation might have been in there once but this is very difficult to substantiate as history has conspired to eliminate it from the body of knowledge

    There might be two reasons why de-escalation and escape is not in the current syllabus/psyche:
    1) It doesn’t sell – The average male with delusions of pwning everyone isn’t going to be interested in de-escalation and avoidance. He wants to fight. Thus, people who might have known de-escalation strategies might have omitted them from the syllabus to gain students – I’ve not trained in too many schools, but this is probably true of the schools that I’ve been in. Non-violence doesn’t sell so they don’t teach it.

    2) Historically speaking, de-escalation might have lost you face – If you were a Kung Fu master in ancient China, you couldn’t pass on a challenge match or you’d lose face and status. There was no option to de-escalate. You would have to get in there and finish it decisively. The social pressures of the day might actually even have encouraged escalation. Laws that govern GBH in today’s society didn’t apply then. De-escalation would have had limited value and thus they might not have taught it.

    • Mark,

      << If you were a Kung Fu master in ancient China, you couldn’t pass on a challenge match or you’d lose face and status. << True but what about the students? They are not under the same burden. << There was no option to de-escalate. << I don't think that's entirely accurate. There is more to saving face in Asian culture than an "either/or" approach. As for it not selling, yes that seems totally right to me. But only for today's modern world. I don't think it applies to olden times when your fighting skills (or lack thereof) were what kept you alive. The main reason why I think it isn't in there is that people were confronted with violence or the potential of it in their daily lives. They didn't need to learn it because they lived it every day.

  8. Charles James says

    At its essence, you are right. As to this life-coaching thing, MA or karate can teach you only one thing. It is up to you as the individual. It is ok to look outside you for information and knowledge but it all comes back to you and what you do with you.

    The rest is pretty much window dressing and fun to play with. Life coaching, in my perception, is an excuse to lay responsibility on someone else especially if you as the individual fail to make it work.

    I have a philosophy in my practice of karate but I have learned that much like in the fight you cannot depend on anyone else; you have to find it within yourself and that includes all the crud you deal with in life.

    Thanks for the article!

    Charles

  9. I think you’ve providing a damning, but ultimately accurate portrayal of what martial arts are really like there, Wim.

    I’ve dipped toes in jujutsu, wing chun and judo and not once did anybody mention awareness, avoidance, de-escalation, appropriate use of force, social violence, asocial violence, predatory attacks, avoiding being targeted, ambushes, criminal behaviour etc. Each individual art seemed very wrapped up in its own very specific area of focus and that was pretty much it.

    As a young chap, this wouldn’t bother me so much as learning how to fight, in and of itself, is ‘cool’ and I could recover fairly quickly from any injuries (especially in judo) along the way.

    As a thirtysomething, my focus is a little different – I have fiancee, a career, I’m saving up for a home and look forward to settling down, maybe start a family. Naturally, at this point, fighting itself would only be a minor part of self defence and self protection, yet this seems to be neglected in the curriculum in every MA I’ve tried. It’s coming back into MAs at a later age that I’ve now found myself at odds with what I expect from them (self defence!) and what they actually offer (a syllabus of fighting techniques, competition etc) – and this discrepancy is making me become somewhat cynical of traditional arts and consider something more reality-based instead (even though, I’m aware that some RBSDs are so wrapped up in their own area of focus that they too have their own limitations and quality control issues).

    Anyway, I’m glad you raised this topic. People are very quick to ascribe all sorts of various qualities, attributes and mystical benefits to martial arts and combat sports that can be deeply misleading. There can be many indirect benefits of MAs – especially for children (self-discipline, respect, confidence etc) – but to claim that they directly cover all bases of self protection whilst offering inner peace, life-affirming experiences and so on is disingenuous.

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