Fitness Quests
Mind, Body and Spirit Defeats Fear
By John Doty
Mar 1, 2003 - 11:32:00 AM

Fires, lives lost, tragedy, general mayhem, permeating the news. Ever since "9/11" there has been an increased interest in self-defense and personal security. Everywhere we turn, there is some story, about an unthinkable event taking place just in our city. Worse yet is being inundated by the possibilities of what could happen. The problem is we live in a state of constant fear. Fear of going outside. Fear for our children. Fear of the bogeyman.

As a consequence, the security industry has flourished. "Be very afraid" is their motto. If you are not afraid, then we cannot help you. If we cannot help you, then you cannot pay us money. As a security professional, I can tell you that protection cost and protection rip-off has increased exponentially since that fateful fall morning in September 2001. Fear feeds it. It really is that simple.

Likewise, "self-defense" systems have grown impressibly. I mean the sheer number of dojos, not to mention the "grand masters" of every discipline who crawl out of the woodwork. Yes, like Scientology, selling self-defense as a way to protect your life has permanently set up shop. Who has not been fascinated by the (current) Steven Seagal "mob" saga? Segal is rumored an Aikido master. A very spiritual person according to some. A total fraud to others. Who is to say? Ok. The point being: are the self-defense preachers and gurus the "carpetbaggers" of the new millennium?

There are very reputable schools taught by very wise and adept Sifus in Los Angeles. The question one needs to ask is "what do I want out of this?" Fitness, self-confidence? But in this quest for protection, be realistic. Knowing that I can deliver a reverse roundhouse to an incoming 757 does me little good. Security is an illusion. It is an opiate to help settle the nerves of those who are scared of their very shadow.

***image1***If you choose self-defense, choose wisely. Perhaps the best overall fitness and defense oriented training is boxing and kickboxing. Training for this activity is rigorous. Running, or "road work", lots of conditioning, hours, days, months and years. As a consequence, besides learning how to fight in a "street" style, you become incredibly fit. Just as there are many styles of martial arts, many styles of kickboxing, and boxing exist. Some of the more reputable schools in Los Angeles actually screen potential students to insure that bullies or "hot heads" are kept away.

My advice on learning self-defense is to approach it from the fitness point of view. Self-confidence naturally follows fitness. By learning to fight, one gets well acquainted with the body. Learning to adapt follows naturally. No one style is good for all. If you believe the foregoing, to the point of dogma, then no style becomes the style, just as no limitation becomes your limitation.

Questions regarding flexibility arise. Now, nobody is able to deliver an effective head kick, unstretched and in street clothes. Forget the movies. Learn about your body. Learn what you are able to do. Many are very good with their hands, but need to keep the kicks low. Others are very nimble and can get a high kick off. Just remember, most fights in the street will go to the ground in less than 30 seconds. A high kick, grabbed by your opponent shortens that time.

If you are shopping for an instructor or a school, don't rely on the rank or "belt" held by the instructor. Belts can be bought. Knowledge, confidence, wisdom and the ability to motivate cannot. Interview the school or instructor. See if they are able to offer you the type of fitness program you desire. Self-defense will come naturally and learned if you are comfortable with the person you are training.

Calm down. The only "bogey man" is in your head. Live life. Be good to your body. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.


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