This past week served as a reminder that different people face different kinds of threats. In light of this, martial arts do not necessarily cover the different kinds of threats that exist. For example, an 80 year old man is not likely to be a target of sexual violence to the degree that young women are.
While martial arts can equip one with physical skills to enable one to defend himself/herself, it is not the whole solution. Violence itself is a vast minefield due to its’ complexity and variations. The threat of sexual violence that women face is different from the violence faced by soccer hooligans for example.
Is it possible for a martial arts school to be able to address every form of violence? I don’t think so. Very rarely does a martial art school delve into the need for developing social skills, environmental and situational awareness, verbal de-escalation, and making the right life style choices. It doesn’t really matter how good your kata is if you persist into going dangerous areas. Does your awesome trapping skills mean anything if you bounce from one violent unhealthy relationship to the next violent unhealthy relationship? Or when you use “motherfucker” as part of your verbal de-escalation strategy? Or when you accept a ride from a charming stranger? Or if you work for a manipulative boss?
The past week is a pointed reminder that women face a very different kind of threat matrix than men do. Statistics show that sexual assaults against women in the US military has gone up in the last couple of years. The Jaycee Dugard, Elizabeth Smart, Natasha Kampusch and the Cleveland cases is a pointed reminder of the threats that women face from those who hold terrible twisted views of them. And let’s not forget Russell Williams who committed unspeakable crimes against his female victims here in Canada.
Bottom line, I do not think that martial arts schools, in general, do not adequately address the vast topic of the different kinds of violence that exist. Some may be very good at teaching the physical skills. In today’s world, far more than physical skills are needed and that is where martial arts schools are sorely lacking.