Is your kung fu street effective?

kung fu street effective Jul 13, 2022

All martial artists that train for "self-protection" experience a period of self-doubt regarding their combat effectiveness. You usually won't question the martial art you're currently learning unless you're practicing "no-touch" martial arts. I recommend seeing a psychiatrist and a psychologist or get high and "no-touch" yourself in the corner. This article is not for you.

Does a whole slew of questions of doubt bounce around your head?

Will you be able to survive against an attacker on the streets? Can you survive an attacker with a weapon? Can you survive being attacked by several people? Can you safely stop a loved one from hurting you, themselves, or other loved ones? Do I deserve my belt color? Am I qualified to teach? Should I pose after every kick?

It's normal to have self-doubt, and many practitioners try to solve this state of mind differently.

  1. Succesfully "pressure-testing" yourself through actual street combat. Not only is this crazy and but extremely dangerous. Prepare to lose your life if doing this. If you survive, "PTSD" becomes an issue.
  2. "Form or kata" your way out of self-doubt. Let yourself get brain-washed by your schoolmates or teacher. "Don't worry about that! Just keep learning your forms or katas. Self-defence is a by-product of forms". Good luck with that.
  3. Quit your kung fu and follow the current martial arts trends. To many, this is simply a reset. I suggest looking into the kung fu or martial art you learned and find it's street or battlefield roots. Get rid of the plaque that resulted from Chinese opera, the movies, or ignorance. Grill your teacher about street survival or find someone else who can frankly explain the mechanics of what you learned. Don't dump all that hard-earned knowledge.
  4. Beat the self-doubt out of yourself. I encounter this aplenty. Many martial artists welcome the pain they suffer through ring or sparring matches. You may conquer your self-doubt this way, but your body gets trained under competition rules. Competition rules are moot in the streets. Some wise teachers understand this and teach their students the difference.
  5. Take up another activity. To many practitioners, this is a great way to gain or reinforce their self-esteem while continuing martial arts training.
  6. Try to look so intimidating that everyone avoids you and convinces yourself you're invincible. Do I have to explain this one?
  7. "I saw the fight on TV last night. Sifu, how do survive if I get into a fight with someone like that?" My answer: "How many times do you do pickup games against NBA players? Now go away."
  8. Quit. At least, if you quit, heighten your awareness of your surroundings and have the physical ability to run away.


It's your journey and your circumstances.

Watch some street fights on youtube and put yourself there. Notice the stages of the fight, the staring, shouting, posturing, the actual physical fight, and the ending.  

Now reenact the youtube fight in your living room with your pet. You'll never know what your pet or attacker will do. I'm convinced my dog will just look at me and throw ninja stars when I blink.

Self-doubt is healthy in many ways since it keeps you practicing and raising your percentage in surviving an attack but don't let it consume you. Learning another form won't get you anywhere, and sparring against another martial artist is a different dynamic. In my youth, I went through several of my points above with nagging injuries to remind me.

Seriously, all you can do is create general and strategic contingencies for different types of scenarios.

That's the first step to understanding what you need to do to tame your self-doubt. It's the first step of many in becoming "street effective".

Safely pressure-testing what I know in a controlled environment is how I tame my self-doubt in kung fu. It's not simple and has many stages of training, but it's very fulfilling.  

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