In a day where small arms and massive fire power typifies combat you would think that martial arts training would have faded into obscurity. To the contrary, we see on the news that our adversaries are receiving serious hand to hand combat training, so the need for hand to hand combat training from traditional martial arts is more necessary than ever.

The martial arts that were taught to warriors in various cultures were seldom taught as or considered a first line of defense. Seldom did a fighter choose to fight an armed opponent while he himself had only his bodies natural weapons to fight with. In spite of what myriad martial art movies may have proclaimed an armed fighter always has the upper hand in a physical confrontation. In the arts that I teach, I teach unarmed defense against knife attacks. I don’t, on the other had, teach those techniques as the preferable way of contesting such potentially lethal aggression. Hand to hand combat in such instances must always be a last resort. If you have no other option you’ll have to fight with the weapons that God gave you but given accessibility any weapon is better than no weapon.

I will continue to teach hand to hand combat training or unarmed combatives, but I also teach both traditional and modern weaponry. I also focus on weapons of opportunity. We have to be able to use whatever is available.

As instructors and sensei we have to make a difference between traditional martial arts and realistic combat. The traditional approach offer some tools that augments the latter but in their raw form they are not designed to addressed today’s challenges. If something has to be tweaked too much to be effective they are not practical.

As a lifelong martial artist and martial art instructor I love the martial arts in both their traditional and practical aspects. I just don’t confuse the two. The traditional martial arts builds character, tenacity and raw athletic ability. I don’t believe in throwing out the baby with the bath water but I believe in being realistic in my approach to combat and self defense. I would rather ere on the side of caution. I would rather go into combat over qualified than unprepared. By the same token I would rather have a lean system with a handful of techniques that are effective in any situation than to overburden my mind with a thousand techniques that are questionable.

That being said I still teach the classical arts but my major focus is in real world combat, hand to hand combat training. Most of my students have been people involved in high risk vocations. They need something that works and that doesn’t require constant training and conditioning to be effective. I teach an art derived from karate/kempo, aikijitsu and jiu jitsu. What I teach has been modified and stripped to the bare minimum. My martial art students generally spend years with me but the aforementioned individuals have a limited time to train in an uncomplicated art that they can implement in a dangerous situation. I’m not super sensei but they swear by my training and to date it has served them well. They probably wouldn’t do well in a tournament but they are effective in the circumstances and situations that describe their professions. On the other had, let me state as a disclaimer, my hand full of classical martial art students have done quite well in competition. They share my passion for the art of the martial arts. By the same token they demand to receive realistic hand to hand combat training.

I’m probably preaching to the choir (I’m a preacher and I do a lot of that) but I admonish my fellow martial art instructors to train your students first in what the martial sciences were originally designed to do. That is in combat and practical self defense. If it doesn’t accomplish that it isn’t really martial in character. It is merely an exercise, sport or weekend activity. Nothing wrong with that approach as long as the participants don’t mistake what they are learning for real combat. Let’s teach and train honestly and realistically by offering serious hand to hand combat training.

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.