The Three Types of Self-Defence Part 1 — Self-Defence Against Life

Self-Defence can mean many things. From someone trying to hit or hurt us to unwanted touch to being able to stay safe if we accidentally fall on ice. Jiu-Jitsu prepares us for all of these possibilities. The first type of self-defence is not about an opponent.

General Safety: Self Defence Against Life

An often overlooked aspect of self-defence is knowing how to keep yourself safe — from everyday life! We might simply trip and fall while walking down the street or over a patch of ice. Not knowing how to minimize and prevent injury might lead to unnecessary suffering.

When falling backwards for example, our natural instinct is to put a hand out to stop our fall. This creates high risk of breaking or dislocating some part of the arm. Even world-class martial artists are susceptible to injury if they make this mistake.

In 2011, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua fought a hard-driving wrestler, Mark Coleman in a Japanese Mixed Martial Arts event, Pride 31. At one point, Coleman lifted Shogun up from behind, slamming him to the mat. Shogun posted his arm out, ultimately dislocating it.

But knowing how to tumble and fall safely is not just for fighters. Like far too many elderly people, at 75 years old my grandfather slipped on ice. Without having tools for absorbing or minimizing the impact, he ended up breaking his hip. This caused a landslide of other health problems that ultimately overtook him. Of course there are no guarantees, but had he the knowledge of how to fall safely, he might have mitigated or even prevented that descent entirely.

I had a (thankfully) funny personal experience in high-school. I was rollerblading down a quiet street one day when my wheels got caught in some tar that had become sticky in the summer sun. The speed I had built sent me flying head-first through the air. Having had practice tumbling at the University of Toronto Judo club, I knew to tuck my head and roll through with the momentum, coming up to my feet as you might with a shoulder roll. Being on rollerblades, I began rolling forwards towards an oncoming car whose driver burst into laughter at the sight of my smooth clumsiness.

Had I not had that practice in falling, I would have hit the ground hard, likely injuring myself.

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