There are those in the public who mistakenly perceive that training in the martial arts will guarantee them a certain level of safety. Even sadder are those martial artists who believe that their training gives them some sort of “shield” and blinds them to reality. More specifically, their egos unfortunately become inflated due to their superb skills in relation of those of lesser skills. Every so often, we got a reminder that martial artists are just physically well trained human beings. One would hope that they would train their mind and spirit as well. Unfortunately, that is not the case in a number of cases.

A well known kick boxer in the San Francisco area had a storefront martial arts store. According to news reports, he was standing outside of the store when a pickup truck, driving down the street, sideswiped his car, parked by the curb in front of the school. The truck continued on down to the intersection close to the school. The kick boxer became enraged at this and ran down the street and caught up to the stopped truck. He went up to the driver’s side of the truck and berated the driver. According to news reports, the driver rolled down the window and fatally shot the kick boxer in the head. Turns out that the driver was either a recently released convict or an escapee. Regardless, this is a very sad episode. This was discussed extensively on the internet and many martial artists questioned why the kickboxer hadn’t just called the police and let law enforcement take care of matters. Naturally, the question turned philosophical and ended up reminding people of the limits of martial arts.

Another case involved a Systema instructor in the Chicago area. Apparently, he was a pretty well regarded martial artist. From what I read on the internet, he received a phone call late at night from a friend of his, who asked him to meet him in an alley behind a grocery store. This Systema instructor was found dead from knife wounds. The first question raised is why would he agree to meet someone in a suspicious area like a dark alley behind a grocery store late at night ? It wasn’t a failure of martial arts skills that did him in; it appears to have been a failure of common sense that did him in.

I think that it was Marc “Animal” McYoung who said that martial arts should constitute only about 5 to 10% of your overall personal safety schema. I would have to agree with that. I would think that using your common sense and listening to your intuition (Read “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker….a terrific book) should provide plenty of personal protection.

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