Saturday October 15, 2005
Stance on fighting
By Grace Chen
Pictures by Lai Voon Loong and Kamal Sellehuddin
Usha Ranjit, 38, an instructor with black belts in taekwando and kickboxing, thinks such an image flatters more than anything else. Usha has never been in a real fight but reckons she would be in trouble if confronted by more than one assailant.
Yui Tagaki, 23, a 2nd degree black belt aikido instructress from Japan, says that there is not much you can do if someone points a gun at you.
“Not that you should stop trying to find a way to escape but it’s best to stop fighting so you can stay alive,” says Tagaki.
Nevertheless, Attila Emam, 36, another aikido instructor, says knowing something is always better than nothing.
“I think at the end of the day if self-defence is taught properly and responsibly, it will give you a chance to escape from dangerous situations,” he says.
Faced with an aggressor, a person usually exhibits one or more of the following reactions: tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, loss of motor coordination, bodily shakes and diminished thinking ability. These will greatly affect your ability to defend yourself. The only way to overcome this, says Usha, is to remain calm.
“Though you may be shaking in fear, you should have the next move ready at the back of your mind. You are trained to do that in martial arts,” says Usha.
“In aikido the idea is to use your opponent’s energy and strength against him. It also teaches you how to deal with multiple attacks. If you are facing two or three people, look for quick and effective ways to get that danger out of the way,” says Attila.
“In kickboxing classes a student learns the weak points in the human body and how to cripple a person by just throwing one punch to a certain part,” says Usha. But such lethal moves are only taught at the advanced level when a student has mastered the requisite physical and mental disciplines. Even if they are well-trained.
“If you are attacked and the person wants your gold chain, let him have it. Buy another gold chain. Why risk your neck? Even if he tries to get physical, kick him in the groin and run. You do not stick around and practise Bruce Lee stunts,” says Usha.
Bear in mind that the use of excessive force is illegal. If your aggressor should die from your actions, you will have to answer to the law. You might find yourself charged in court.
According to Usha, her classes emphasise building up self-confidence rather than training students to attack their aggressors. She always reminds her students, who are mostly children, to refrain from settling problems with force.
Tharmakumaran V. Danapalan, 31, operations manager for Metro Security Services, says that in addition to knowledge in martial art, one needs strength, bravery, quick reflexes and plenty of street smarts to survive a violent confrontation. Tharmakumaran, who has 15 years of experience in the security business, says his men have been punched, slashed and hit with broken bottles.
“How effective martial arts training is in any situation depends on the level of danger. As a standard procedure, our men are trained to use locking and pinning holds to stop aggressors from doing more damage.
“Where the risk is higher, like in the case of personal bodyguards, they are licensed to carry firearms. Normally, self-defence techniques are a last resort. The idea is to diffuse the situation before it gets out of hand. This is why it is important to be alert.
“My men are trained to observe body language and facial gestures. The moment they sense trouble, they act,” explains Tharmakumaran.
Mental strength is an important factor. You may know all the martial arts in the world but if you lose your nerve when faced with an assailant, your knowledge will be useless.
But not everyone takes up martial art to prepare themselves for possible violence. Usha says many of her students take up kickboxing for the fellowship and discipline.
“There is also the fitness aspect. Most celebrities do kickboxing to keep their bodies toned. It’s more exciting than aerobics because there is always a goal to work towards.”
“The goal is not only to improve my techniques but to better my spirit,” she explains.
On average, it takes about four years to work one’s way up to a black belt. One black belt-holder in kickboxing, Datin Nariza Petra, 44, says that the experience has given her a sense of achievement.
“I’m a lot more comfortable and I feel that I can look after myself better. I won’t say I’m ready but I feel that I’m slightly more prepared than I was a long time ago,” she says.
Another kickboxer, Dora Khoo, 34, who is working towards her black belt, feels that persevering in the martial art of her choice has given her a sense of empowerment and a better figure.
“At first, my friends would say things like, ‘Hey, your kick wouldn’t even kill a fly!’ Of course it’s a different story now. As a plus, the work out has also firmed up my arms, legs and abdomen,” smiles Dora.
“Rather than being the damsel in distress, I now know how to go for the weak points (of my assailant) at least. I envision this scenario of coming face to face with someone who is going to attack me and, hopefully, I will remember to trip him up or knock him in the nose and break it.” W
|The order of colours|
Here’s a colour guide, starting from the lowest to the highest for the three self-defence disciplinesmentioned.
Kickboxing: White, Red, Orange, Purple, Brown & Black.
Tae kwan do: White, Yellow, Green, Blue, Red, Black
Aikido: White, Yellow, Orange, Green, Blue, Brown, Black
In the beginning, students usually earn their promotions by sitting for an exam every three to six months. Black belt exams may require six months to a year to prepare for. Upon attaining the black belt, the exponent is expected to continue to learn and improve.
According to Chantana Loke, 39, of Yoshinkan Aikido Malaysia, the highest black belt rank of 10th dan in aikido was attained by the late Soke Gozo Shioda in 1984 when he was 69 years old! Shioda was one of the Grandmasters who helped found Yoshinkan Aikido.
For information on self-defense classes, call Extreme Martial Arts at (03) 6203 4749 or Yoshinkan Aikido at (03) 9200 1080.