Defining children’s self-defense

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A young mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter (right) trains with his elder partner in their club in Moscow. Often called “fight without rules” in Russian, MMA was virtually unknown in Russia a decade ago, but increasingly caught on since, after Russia’s Fedor Emelyanenko, a heavyweight fighter, won a series of international tournaments in 2001-02. AFP FILE PHOTO

A young mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter (right) trains with his elder partner in their club in Moscow. Often called “fight without rules” in Russian, MMA was virtually unknown in Russia a decade ago, but increasingly caught on since, after Russia’s Fedor Emelyanenko, a heavyweight fighter, won a series of international tournaments in 2001-02. AFP FILE PHOTO

It’s not a new topic in the world of martial arts but even among the so-called “experts,” few could give an intelligent definition of children’s self-defense.

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To me, children’s self-defense can only be described in one word: sport.

When your three-year-old child started showing signs of becoming a future Octagon star after playing too much computer games and watching MMA shows, it is a good time to introduce him or her to the sport. By enrolling them in a good gym where they can mingle with other children, they could start developing their skills according to the norms and rules of combat sports and martial arts.

I have heard far too many idiotic stories of men telling how their fathers taught them how to hurt somebody with a weapon, and yet when asked if they did time behind bars, the answer is always a resounding no. Some of their stories might be true, and there could be instances where they’ve used their “lethal skills” outside the schoolyard. But what pleasure is there in doing your time inside a windowless jail?

Children are our angels and they often represent what kind of people their parents are. Every child who displays excellence in any endeavor is often a reflection of good parenting.

Martial arts training could strengthen a child’s foundation as he or she turned into an adolescent and eventually an adult.

Weapons training
It has now become a trend in many self-defense clubs to teach the use of the bladed weapons without knowing its dark side. I will not elaborate further as to why it should, and why it should not be taught because it could reveal what little brain there is inside the head of many egoistic “masters” of martial arts.

If you will teach children weapon techniques, teach them how to score points with it in a sparring session within a sporting environment. In time, it will reveal to them what those scores are all about.

Remember that there is a world of difference between children’s self-defense and military hand-to-hand combat training.

Military men need not always rely on their empty-hand self-defense skills. A soldier is equipped with many choices to neutralize an enemy among them a rifle, pistol, grenade, or blade.

From day one, military men are taught how to kill because that would be their primary goal for the rest of their time while in service. Unlike civilian martial artists who wore their club’s emblems on their foreheads, army combat trainers whom I’ve worked with for years comparatively are calm and opted to tell less stories. We compare scars, not achievements. We share experiences, not egos. We polish our weapons, not our trophies. And at the end of every training day, we sit down for a few shots of vodka, toasting for a wish that our weapons may not hurt another soul – not a tumbler of protein shake screaming “f**k yeah, we’re the best fight club.”

As one who has spent time with real fighting men, it qualifies me to examine children’s self-defense from a realistic perspective. No matter what idea you have of how impressive your super kid could execute his or her self-defense moves, the reality is any untrained adult will easily crush a four-four year old “blackbelter.”

And as a parting shot on lethal fighting techniques, unless you think that visiting your children in prison every weekend is a cool idea, then by all means, encourage them to use their deadly skills while they are young.

“Mumbakki” Daniel Foronda is an MMA champion and a Filipino martial arts expert. He is currently based in Russia where he is a combat tactical trainer to the country’s Military Special Forces.

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