Use your mind as your first resource. Your first line of defense. Observe and always be aware of your surroundings and any possible impending situation.

Man is a triune being. That is to say that he has three aspects to his being. Man isn’t just a physical presence. If we live only according to the demands of the fleshly man we are living only a fraction of our life possibility. Man is a spirit, he has a soul and he lives in a body. Holistic medicine has become popular in recent years. Actually this is nothing new. The Chinese physician has been treating the various aspects of the human condition for longer than we can begin to understand.

I am a minister and of course I am concerned with more than just the physical man. I wouldn’t be much of a pastor if I wasn’t. But this is an article about martial arts and self defense. You may wonder how these other aspects of the human existence enter into the martial arts. Anyone who has studied the arts for any length of time, especially in the oriental systems, knows that many of the martial arts began in religious temples. Chan (Zen) Buddhism and Taoism birthed a number of martial arts. I’m not advoc ating that the Christian martial artist enters into these philosophies and spiritual practices but I am pointing out that the arts weren’t created in a vacuum. In their creation all aspects of the human being were taken into consideration. In all actuality nothing can be accomplished independent of the soul and spirit. Where you go all of you goes. If your feet go, the rest of your body will follow. We are holistic beings.

There is more to self defense than a punch, a kick, a lock or a throw or takedown. Real martial art goes beyond its physical expression. If you don’t put your heart into a technique, regardless of how much you’ve trauned it won’t work. Fighting is more than mere physical contention. Hopefully we are not just focused on combat in our studies and teaching. There is more to life than that. Violence is antisocial. It should always be a last resort. If we depend on our physicality alone violence will be the sole manifestation of our art. If, on the other hand, we base our martial expression in the other areas of our being we will have control over our circumstances to the extent that we will practice our arts on a higher level. We will learn to fight without fighting.

Many of us have studied some type of animal system, such as tiger crane, praying mantis or white crane kung fu. Yet, however affectively we mimic the fighting prowess of these animals we will be limited by our human limitations. No matter how good you become at black tiger kung fu you can’t kung fu a tiger. Please, take my word for it. Don’t put it to the test. That would be a lesson you won’t live to profit from. Yet, in spite of our human frailty, we have almost caused the extinction of tigers. Human beings are more dangerous than any tiger. What give s us this superiority? It is the human brain. Our ability to think. The brain supersedes the limitations of the human body making us more dangerous than physical ability alone could accomplish.

All the training in the world won’t help us if we aren’t aware of our surroundings and don’t see a dangerous situation before it becomes critical. We will do better in a self defense situation if we react to deal with the impending attack before it occurs. This type of awareness requires more than training the fist into weapons or learning a kick or two. Our minds are, or should be, our first level of defense. The best fight isn’t the one you win it’s the one you avoid. Fighting without fighting is always preferable to getting hurt or hurting someone else. If we can control the situation we can control the outcome.

My friend, Dr. John Enger of the Shinja Martial Arts University has a black belt in Verbal Karate. This method involves conflict resolution. Dr. Enger was a police officer and often had to use his verbal skill to defuse or deescalate what could become a dangerous situation. No police or security officer wants to fight with another person in the process of doing his job. Likewise, no responsible human being, martial artist or not, should seek a physical confrontation if he can reason his way out of it.

Too often we let our own pride, insecurities or, so called, righteous indignation enter into the equation goading us into a fight that we could otherwise avoid. For any civilized person fighting is always a last resort. Very little is resolved by conflict.

I have always held that if one of my students finds himself in a physical confrontation my instruction hasn’t been totally effective. I try to build a level of self awareness and command of his surroundings in a student that he should see a possible situation before it happens. If confronted he should have the verbal and mental skills to deescalate the situation. Of course, unfortunately, a fight is sometimes unavoidable. I teach my students to be an angel in negotiation but a demon in a fight. Do everything you can to preserve the safety of you and any, would be, assailant but if violence is inevitable go all out in your efforts to protect yourself and loved ones. But first, think. Take control of yourself and you’ll have a foundation to enable you to control the situation.

Use your mind as your first resource. Your first line of defense. Observe and always be aware of your surroundings and any possible impending situation. Avoid areas where trouble is likely. Carry yourself with confidence and an air of capability. Predators are looking for a soft target. Don’t give them what they are looking for. If confronted be confident but not cocky. Strong but not pushy. Aggressive but not abusive. Flexible but not a push over. It’s a balance that you are looking for. A perfect balance of yin and yang. And lastly, always keep in mind that it is your brain that makes you superior to the average predator. Your brain is your best weapon. Use it. Master that and you will be a true martial art master.

God bless you my brethren. Train hard and go with God.

Dr. Donald Miskel

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Donald Miskel
Donald Miskel started his training in 1959 at the Jiu Jitsu Institute in Chicago and trained with several well known and respected martial arts instructors in a number of disciplines. He has attained black belt ranking in six different martial art disciplines. Sensei Miskel taught at several locations in and around the Chicago area for many years. His focus was self defense instruction for civilians and specialized, individual, training for law enforcement personnel and security officers. He worked in several areas of law enforcement, mental health and personal security as well as performing Pastoral duties at several churches and ministries for a number of years. e helped to create the Black Lotus Combative System and he founded the Dante Ryu Gojute Kenpo karate/ Ju jitsu fighting system. Dr. Miskel is an original member of the Black Dragon Fighting Society.