Written by Franco Mocke
Martial Arts is sometimes confused with Self-Defense, as if these two terms are synonyms. This is not the case. While it is true that the arts focus on self-defense, or that many martial arts can assist in self-defense, the latter is not martial arts per se.
Self-defense is the act of protecting oneself against an aggressor. Such self-preserving actions are not by default self-defense. A woman that hits an attacker with a frying pan over the head may have defended herself; however, it is unconvincing to claim that she did any martial arts.
Nonetheless, the majority of martial arts claim to equip their practitioners with self-defense skills. In recent years this has caused lots of contention.
Especially the traditional ones have come under criticism, as it is believed that the very formal and structured environments in which traditional martial arts are taught are unrealistic and inadequate at preparing someone for a violent conflict situation, which is naturally unstructured. Another argument is that most martial arts focus too much on physical self-defense, instead of spending time teaching practitioners other valuable skills, such as awareness, negotiating skills (e.g. verbal dissuasion and conflict resolution), and so on.
Regardless, it is very likely that a person versed in a martial art (be it traditional or other) is more likely to have better awareness and quickened reflexes; both crucial abilities in a violent conflict situation.
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