THE ULTIMATE SELF DEFENSE CLASS!
This month’s Case Histories is courtesy of a student, Theresa, of an associate of mine, Rick Thatcher, who teaches a heck of a fine art in the small town of Little Rock, just outside of LA.
Theresa, at the time of this incident, was a student of eight months. She had practiced hard, knew her forms and karate techniques, and passed her first test.
One day she happened to come across a flier advertising a self defense class. Curious, she called the number and asked several questions pertaining to art taught, instructor’s experience, and so on.
And the fellow would give no answers.
‘I don’t talk about it over the phone,’ he advised, ‘Just be at XXX Dance Studio at three o’clock.’
Theresa had some doubts at this point, after all, a nobody in a dance studio who wouldn’t answer the simplest of questions. Still, she had been taught that the true art doesn’t take place in a building, but in a heart and soul, so, at three o’clock, she was at the designated place.
The fellow, let’s call him SuperSensei, had everybody sit in a group and proceeded to downgrade every other art, but specifically the traditional ones, on the planet.
‘They do it all wrong! It’s all so much rigamarole, no effective self defense, and they don’t teach pressure points and grappling!’
Theresa, having had enough, jumped to their feet. “They do so!” She exclaimed.
‘Yeah?’ said SuperSensei, ‘What about a simple defense for a punch to the head?’ And he demonstrated with a punch to Theresa’s head.
Theresa executed a perfect high block, ‘We do this!’ she said.
SuperSensei blinked at this rapid defilement of his attack. ‘Well,’ he blustered, ‘What if it was a knife attack?’ And he swung a fist down at her head as if he was going to stab her.
‘That’s what the crossed wrist block is for!’ And she crossed her wrists to catch his arm in the technique called ‘swordcatcher’ in her school. She then pushed up on the elbow and pulled down on the wrist and cranked him right down to the floor.
‘Wow!’ said SuperSensei, ‘They didn’t show me this one!’
The upshot of this story is that SuperSensei had taken virtually no classical classes in the martial arts. When he signed up for a traditional class he always disagreed with what was being taught and ended up quitting. All of his training had come from…’Self Defense Seminars.’ And since he had decided the traditional arts were silly he designed, based upon his ‘Self Defense Class’ experiences, his own art.
He even had a fellow teaching for him!
I hope you don’t think that I am speaking against seminars, or other such arrangements, they can be incredibly valuable for instructors wishing to increase enrollment, and for students wishing to learn a little something extra, or just to get other viewpoints concerning the arts.
No, the problem here was with ‘SuperSensei,’ and his problems are too numerous for me to drub you with in these fine pages.
To end the story, Theresa stood up and walked out, and nearly everybody followed her. SuperSensei’s last words were, as she and the others walked out the door, ‘You have my pager number!’
Additional note: You know, as I sit here and check over this month’s columnic effort I am struck by how much the dialogue resembles a bad kung fu movie. And here I thought those old chop sockies were fakes!