Often times people will spout out generalizations that we can tell they seem to truly believe in. Take the comment The really best defense is to run for example. I will say that this is a valid comment, one we actually teach in both our martial arts and self-defense classes. Kept in context, no fight that you can walk (or run) away from is truly worth fighting. However, you may not always have this option. Altercations can occur in closed places where running is not an option. Or, what if your spouse and/or children are with you? What if you simply arent in shape or dont have the cardio to successfully evade the attacker? What if the attacker has a gun?
Thats another comment we hear often, I dont need martial arts, I carry a gun. Id like to introduce this person to the one just mentioned above because at a 10 to 15 foot range running away is actually a valid strategy. Ive seen trained police officers miss their targets at point blank (5 feet or less) range. The other issue is that some martial arts, like Hapkido actually train in gun take-away techniques from within that point blank range. Not all, but many gun owners do not practice near enough for high pressure situations where accuracy and life (yours or the person in your sites) are on the line.
Then there is the purist that will insist that If you know martial arts, then a persons size wont matter. A persons weight and muscle mass will most definitely affect what you can and cannot do to your opponent. In Hapkido, we have an infinite number of techniques that we can employ in any given situation. One of the reasons we have so many is because not every technique will work on every person. Since we train against differing body types daily, I can tell you that size is always a consideration. Another similar factor that can influence a given defense strategy is whether the person is intoxicated or has been using drugs. Either of these can make what would normally be an effective defense greatly ineffective because the opponent cannot feel (or respond to) pain like a sober one. The same is true when a large person is pitted against a smaller person. Though Hapkido does equalize the playing field, there are certain throws or techniques that would simply not be effective, so yes size does matter.
This is a relatively new one that has started coming up from time to time, Ill never go to the ground so I dont need to know how to fight from there. We agree that the ground is not the best place to be and even in Hapkido we teach students to get up as quickly as possible if they find themselves there. But saying you will never fall for any reason is presumptuous at best. You can trip over a curb or chair, get blindsided by a rushing individual or simply slip on a wet or icy sidewalk. Whatever the case, knowing the threats when going to the ground is paramount. It is easier for an attackers buddies to kick you, you can bang your head against the pavement or the attacker can pull a knife that you never see, for example. Knowing (and training for) how to escape once taken to the ground, even if only to be able to get back on your feet seems like a skillset that everyone should at least consider.
We hear this from previously trained individuals from time to time I know how to kill somebody, I dont need all that fancy martial arts stuff. Even if that is true, it seems to me like a pretty big swing to say that you are going to kill everyone you ever find yourself in conflict with. Hapkidos major emphasis is on control. We learn to control ourselves, our opponents and our surrounding. Along with that control comes varying degrees of force. We can simply lock up an annoying drunk that had a few too many without causing any real damage at all. If some crazed road raged guy attacks you, delivering a debilitating blow to stop the attack along with a lock to hold the person until the police arrive is another option. If you find yourself dealing with an attacker with a weapon or surrounded by several attackers, then deadly force may be necessary but as always it is an option, not THE only possibility.
Then there is the one that some of you reading this may have come up with. A true martial artist would never put themselves into bad situations. Granted you shouldnt go to bars looking for fights, and most of us know that parking garages are the number one places for assaults. But how many times have you read about thugs breaking into peoples homes while they slept only to assault or kill the occupants. Or some guy walks into a place of business (possibly yours) and starts shooting.
Martial arts can never be classified as one thing, one idea or ideal. Martial arts is a way of life. We dont sit around frightened by the dangers lurking around the corner, we love life and want to live it to its fullest potential. We train for the worst but anticipate the best. A true martial artist will never categorize themselves as anything but seeks to be prepared for everything. If and when they find themselves in a world of chaos they bring with them calmness and control. They understand the dynamics of a given situation and are always willing to adapt to ever changing conditions. The mind of a true martial artist is never closed.