You may be looking for the best self defense training for your child and the first thing that pops up is martial arts classes.
Are these longstanding martial arts centers the best choice?
There are many terrific martial arts studios that are true masters in their art. Now you are probably seeing Karate or Tae Kwon Do in your searches for self defense and many claim to be the “best self defense training”. You may even see MMA style programs that combine jiu jitsu, boxing, and other forms of martial arts. Now we need to understand the place of these programs and how they can benefit your child. They may be exactly what you are looking for! But they may not be either…
Traditional programs like Karate and Tae Kwon Do are belt level programs that will be a long term training regimen for a child to get their junior black belt over a 3-5 year span. let’s outline what these programs do very well:
- Provide a structured environment
- Encourage learning and listening skills
- Empower kids with more control of their growing bodies
- Build confidence within their martial art
- Promote work ethics of practice and consistency
That all sounds great and many of our instructors are black belts in these styles. martial arts has a long standing history and tradition of turning out quality adults. Now let’s qualify it in terms of real world self defense and put out some truths:
- Kids cannot effectively punch or kick their way out of a dangerous situation with a grown attacker
- Kids are naturally more innocent, trusting and able to be easily manipulated
- Kids can be easily picked up and silenced, put into a car or otherwise transported
- Kids are seen as soft targets by criminals looking to get something they want that day
How does traditional martial arts address these issues? Simply put, it cannot because that is not what it was built for. All martial arts are either theoretical or sport based in their methodology. This means the concepts work within the framework of the art but may fall apart once real time, criminal surprise attacks and other real world actions take place because their was no training for those moments. The arts train a child to punch and work a kata but never to effectively slow down or stop an adult attacker from dragging them into a car.
Lets take a look at MMA programs that teach skills seen in the popular UFC
These training programs teach a more barbaric approach to fighting. Because of the many styles you may never become a master in one but you will have a variety of techniques and styles to pull from. However, even though there is grappling, striking, defense and more there is still an issue because the framework is now sport. Reality has no rule book. There is no padded arena and referee available when something bad begins to happen to anyone. In sport, you know exactly when you will be fighting your opponent, how long the rounds are, the rules of engagement, and what their strengths and weakness are. You’ve sparred against them in the past or dissected tape of them for weeks before the actual combat takes place. In reality you get no warning, no prior insight, no referee, nothing. You only have your training for that specific moment to fall back on. When a child gets in a scary situation they will try to fall back on something they know for that moment. If they have nothing to fall back on they will do absolutely nothing.
So what do kids need for self defense?
COBRA self defense is a training program for all ages but we’ll focus in on how it is relevant to kids. Because the training is so focused there are sessions that only take a few hours on a single day. Repeating these every so often can help reinforce them as well. Kids learn:
- Anti-abduction escapes
- Grab/hold escapes
- Circle of Security
- School safety
- Equalizing strikes
- Survival techniques
- Transportation Defense (Creating anchors, not being lifted off the ground, etc)
The specificity of the training is emphasized in scenarios where the children must perform the technique under stress in a “real” feeling situation. They are moving fast and reacting to a real person grabbing them or trying to pick them up. This creates the mental log in their mind so that they have that training with them if they should ever need it. As always prevention is the #1 step to all self defense and COBRA works to include the parents in the self defense process by opening up lines of communication between children and parents.
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COBRA Certified, Kickboxing Certified, MMACS Conditioning Expert