I have been at the fitness and self-defense “game” for many years now, and like many other people who’ve spent decades exposed to a particular realm, I believe that I’ve seen a lot, and just about heard it all. When I first became interested in these fields, and particularly in unarmed combat, I was not unmoved by those instructors who declared that anyone could defeat anyone else in a physical altercation, as long as he knew the right techniques. When I was a young man, in my teenage years, I was not short, but I was thin…what would certainly be called skinny…and so I was hardly the biggest or strongest young man around. I was well-liked, in general, so I did not have many run-ins with other guys back in the day, but I remember thinking during that time that if I was to be viciously assaulted by someone else who was much bigger, I probably would have a very difficult time defending myself. I did not like the feeling at all, and decided early on in my travels down the fitness and self-defense paths that I would devote as much time to getting bigger and stronger as I would to training in actual martial sports and self-defense.
The plain fact is that anyone who declares to you that any given person can defeat any other person with the “right” training…is trying to sell you a bill of goods. Whenever you see martial arts demonstrations wherein a much smaller person is neutralizing an attack from a large person, you will generally find, if you look closely, that the reason for the smaller person’s success has a lot to do with the fact that what you’re witnessing is, in fact, a demonstration, which means it is heavily choreographed.
On the occasions I am instructing anyone in these areas, I make sure to present them as symbiotic components of one another. That is, if you are all physicality, with no technique, you will be less than a fully-prepared fighter, and, by the same token, if you are skilled at self-defense or martial arts techniques, but are not as completely combat-conditioned as you might otherwise be, you will still be something less than you might otherwise, as a fighter. However…and I’m saying this as someone who has been around martial arts and artists for decades now…if I had to choose dominance in one area over another, I would choose being physically imposing over being technically sharp.
This said, it would be a grave mistake to misread what I just said to conclude that proficiency in self-defense techniques is inconsequential in comparison to physical strength and power. However, if one truly wishes to become a formidable opponent to anyone who might wish him harm, it’s important to recognize the importance of physical prowess to achieving that end. The simple, “bottom line” reality is that even without special combat training, a person who possesses great strength and speed can often defeat a smaller and/or weaker person who is technically excellent – that’s just the reality of it.
So what does this mean for women? After all, women are generally burdened with greater disadvantages in the realm of natural physicality, in comparison to men, are they not? It means two things: Women should strive to enhance their own physical capabilities…strength, speed…as much as they can, but also, they should accept that they are going to be well-served to maintain whatever particular advantages they can. For example, if lawfully carrying a firearm is an option where you live (and you should not live anyplace where it isn’t), then you would be smart to avail yourself of the appropriate training, and do so. One of my favorite slang terms for a gun is “equalizer,” because that is precisely what the gun can do – level (and more) the playing field between a small person and a large one.
While your height is really the only part of your physical makeup that cannot be enhanced through training, you can become thicker, stronger (which is typically a function of becoming thicker), and faster through physical conditioning, and so it is smart to focus on achieving the highest and best results you can in those areas. The point is that as you seek to be as capable as possible in self-defense, do not allow yourself to be taken in by the idea that the physical superiority of another is of no consequence, as long as you have cultivated combat skills; pay a good deal of attention yourself to your own physical conditioning and development, and spend time becoming a true physical specimen – in the end, that will be about as important a component to your physical safety as anything else, including sharp combat skills.
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