For the most part I don’t write on demand and I don’t take requests. I’m a martial art instructor not your local DJ. That being said let’s talk about rules and the exceptions thereof.
I was talking to the senior instructor and President of the Black Lotus Martial Arts Association and one of my senior black belts. He had the audacity to try to coerce me into writing this particular article. I fussed and cussed (actually I don’t do much in the way of swearing but it was a close call) but you see I’m sitting at my laptop pecking out the suggested article. I’m good for lecturing. Because I manage the affairs of two martial art organizations and sit on the board(s) of several others I do a great deal of my teaching in that manner. I try to expound on the philosophy, methodology, the inner workings and the underlying principles of the martial arts. Today’s lecture was on self defense and personal security. Larry (McFadden) was the benefactor. Sometime I’m too good for my own good. Thus my present labor at the keyboard.

Many people get involved in the martial arts for self protection. Some take a few self defense courses while some go for the total package. In its raw form the martial arts are about fighting. Take the combative applications from the martial arts and you have either a nice exercise program or an interesting hobby. While conditioning and training will give one the physicality and coordination that makes them more capable in a physical confrontation neither of the two translates into an effective self defense program. If you want to be able to fight you have to train to fight. You don’t learn how to fight by doing kata or participating in the occasional karate tournament. In the end you fight the way you train.

This isn’t so much a lecture about self defense. Self defense is a worst case scenario. I tell my students that if they find themselves in a self defense situation their training has failed them or they have failed their training. For all intent and purposes self defense should be a back to the wall situation. It should be your absolute last resort.

Considering my background, the places I grew up in and my military experience I’m not shy about fighting. I don’t particularly want to fight but if the necessity arises I’m more than willing and able to do so. Where I grew up violence was a fact of life. You didn’t fight to prove some point or another. You fought to survive. Breaking my own rule on profanity I could ‘fight my ass off’. My background gave me a no-nonsense approach to all things combative.

Larry, the President of my organization, the BLMAA and my nemesis at the moment asked me to expound on self defense vs personal security, and what’s the difference between the two. It would seem that he’ll be teaching and expounding on the subject at the university he retired from and he wants me to do most of the work for him. After much harassment and badgering I finally agreed. The BLMAA and its associate fighting arts share a philosophy on personal protection. I’d like to share some of that.

  1. Avoidance: Stay away from those places that may pose a threat.
  2. Awareness: Put away the headphones, the blue tooth and the cell phones. Be aware of your surroundings.
  3. Observation: Keep your eyes and ears open. Recognize a possible threat before it becomes a threat.
  4. Balance: Appearing balanced communicates a state of awareness. Predators look for a soft target. They prefer an easy or compliant victim.
  5. Confidence: Like balance confidence communicates a state of readiness and capability.
  6. Defuse: Okay, all of the above failed. You find yourself face to face with an enraged adversary. Reason with him if you can. Try to calm him down.
  7. Deescalate: Take the blame if necessary. Try to walk away. Address the problem however you can to avoid a physical altercation.
  8. Flee: If you can. Get the h **l out of dodge. It isn’t cowardly to flee a violent confrontation.
  9. Defend: This is a one shot deal. You have to deal with the preemptive strike. Stop his initial attack and then…
  10. Attack: Fights aren’t won with a good defense. In a heads up confrontation ‘the best defense is a good offense’.
  11. Fight like your life depends on it. Chances are it does.

Since we got all of that out of the way let’s look at the escalating levels of combat.

  1. Verbal skill. Try to talk your way out of it before you have to hurt him.
  2. Hurt before you injure
  3. Injure before you disable
  4. Disable before you Maim
  5. Maim before you kill
  6. Kill if you must
  7. Survive at all costs

There it is in a nutshell. Personal protection involves a number of things. You must be aware. Look around you before leaving the house or any building. Constantly access your surroundings and recognize any possible problem. Have your keys in your hand when you leave the car or leave the house to go to your car. Look in the back seat before you get in your car. I can go on with any number of precautions but I’m sure you get the point. If you are security minded chances are you’ll be more secure.

Lastly you have to train yourself for that worst possibility. You have to train realistically. Choose your training to suit your needs. A weekend karate class at your local YMCA may not do it. Arm yourself with the weapons that will serve your needs. And remember, in the end, your safety is your responsibility.

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