Self defense is undoubtedly an important skill to learn. We cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that violence is very prevalent in our world. The unfortunate reality is that we cannot always rely on our law enforcement agencies to protect us from harm. Therefore, we must take our self defense into our own hands.
This does not mean, however, that we have to join a mixed martial arts gym and become a fighting master. Not all of us are suited for for that kind of combative art. Or perhaps, we don’t want to. There are indeed many self defense courses that rely on solid hard style martial arts techniques, and there is no doubt that they work, for certain people. For some, however, this is not an adequate solution.
Hard Style Self Defense
Hard style self defense relies on using techniques that require force on force. Examples of these are striking and hard blocking arts like: Taekwondo, Karate, Kickboxing, etc. These arts can be extremely effective, given enough time to train and condition the body for such techniques. I, myself, have been doing ITF Taekwondo for eleven years, and it works for me. Some people, on the other hand, don’t have the proper body type to efficiently employ these style, and perhaps they don’t want to train to gain the body type. Hard style self defense also has a very high probability of injury of your attacker. Some people don’t want this to occur. What if it was your friend who was drunk, and just wasn’t thinking clearly. Do you really want to hurt them?
Soft Style Self Defense
Soft style self defense offers a non injury solution to an aggressive situation. Rather than hitting or hard blocking attacks, soft style tried to blend with the attackers force. This is usually done with a circular motion. The end goal is to have the attacker on the ground and either run away, or force them in a position of compliance where we can talk them down. Here is a good introductory video explaining some principles of soft style self defense.
As you can see, the idea is not to use force on the attackers attack. One should blend with them in order to redirect their attack. This gives us several advantages over standard hard style self defense. First of all, these techniques can be performed regardless of how strong you are. For the most part, when an individual is attacked by another person, the attacker is usually bigger and stronger. Using techniques that rely on strength will have a higher risk of failure. If techniques that rely on redirecting energy are employed, it does not matter how strong the opponent is, they will still work.
Let’s take a look at another video that employs soft self defense. This time, with an Aikido practitioner.
This is an excellent demonstration of circular movement and redirection. Now, I realize that the attacker is providing the master with somewhat unrealistic attacks, but the principles of movement remain. Every attack is redirected to the floor, and in a lot of the instances, the master is left with a position of compliance. From here he could talk the opponent down, or he could run away.
Soft style self defense techniques, for the most part, offer us a way to take care of an opponent in a non violent manner, without the need to strike. This does NOT mean, however, that it can’t be dangerous or lethal. If you noticed, almost every throw that the Aikido master performed could have been very dangerous. Imagine getting thrown to the ground on the street, where the ground is solid concrete. The impact can surely create great damage, and will keep an attacker down.
Joint locks are also a soft solution to self defense. And while there is no striking involved in a joint lock, they can injure just as easily by breaking the joints if enough pressure is applied quickly enough.
This last video is a personal favorite of mine. Now, I have personally trained with the master in this video, and he is the softest martial artist that I have had the pleasure of working with. All his techniques are double purposed. Most of the time, he advocates non violence. But I think you can see the lethal applications that are hidden within. There are a few striking techniques in this video, but the majority are not. Try to focus on these.
All in all, self defense is a very important skill to learn. If you’re the type that doesn’t want to hurt people, or don’t think your strong or fast enough, consider this style of self defense. It just might be right for you.