Let’s face it, this winter has been kind of crappy for us in the North East. It’s chock full of freezing temperatures, tons of snow and freezing rain – not my idea of a winter wonderland. Today I want to mention some common bad habits that I see everyday (also found in a previous post) as well as the bad habits and things we take for granted in a combative situation. These issues get compiled when the bad weather hits. We lose focus of environmental factors which can include unstable surfaces, lack of mobility, lack of clear sightline and countless other factors. I will break down the differences between trained and untrained civilians as well as the roles of attacker and defender in each. What must be taken into account is of course your surrounding environment and the conditions within it.
Some basic tips for winterizing your self defense:
Most of these tips are just pure common sense, but they are often forgotten about or neglected. It never hurts to take one extra precaution to assure your safety while still allowing you to live a normal life through the winter.
Now for trained and untrained martial artists alike – Self Defense in the winter:
A situation where you need to use your self defense training can happen in an instant and preparation is key. The problem lies with what most trained martial artists take for granted. Most don’t take into consideration environmental conditions and the factors they create. Currently, the weather is pretty crappy out. Pavement, roads and steps are wet, icy, and snow covered, which means you won’t have optimal footing when you need it. Do you take those factors into consideration when your in the gym learning your kata. Most Don’t! Most of the people who train, do so on mats, in a warm dojo, with no shoes or martial arts specific shoes on. Often times they wear athletic clothing or a uniform along with body protection. None of the things I just mentioned you will have on you when you’re outside. Yes, there is a need to train with body protect, sometimes your school has a specific uniform and street shoes are not allowed, and your gym may just have mats. All good and great, but what I am talking about are the “techniques” you may be learning are typically sport oriented. Meaning that you go to a gym that promotes self defense and you learn TKD, BJJ, Muay Thai or any other art. That’s great, and techniques carry over to self preservation, but just a small percentage. If I have trained for months to throw a spinning head kick from my TKD training and I try it outside in the snow and ice, I will most likely fall on my face, especially if I am dressed for work with winter gear on. If I train in BJJ and I rely on my guard, do I just fall to my back and put myself in a bad situation? or do I crash in and look for a takedown or clinch on an unstable surface and risk falling or landing on hard ground and injuring myself in the process? Few gyms or systems consider any of these environmental factors.
Simplicity is key!
During the winter months my mobility may be compensated since we are all bundled up for the cold. My footing is not all that stable, and going to the ground is not an option unless I happen to fall or find myself there. Then my concern is getting up and out. Simplicity is key in the way we teach Self Defense, so using the most direct, effective and efficient tools at your disposal is the answer. Why would I risk a kick or takedown when the conditions are totally against my favor. Sure maybe I can apply it effectively, but I might also put myself in an incredibly dangerous position for no reason. I also want to focus on gross motor skills versus fine motor skill in a time where my adrenaline kicks in and we are in the heat of the moment. When it comes to our fight or flight response most if not all people Run, Freeze, or respond with their highest level of training. In the case of a kicker, he will kick, if your a grappler you will grapple and so on. So it’s ignorant to think that you will be fine because your a high level belt in whatever art. If your training focuses on the sport aspects of that art you may just find yourself in a worse situation than if you just froze or ran away.
So to end off this post, find a place that trains in a realistic fashion, a place that takes the above scenarios and environmental conditions into consideration. Learn the basics of self defense, from both standing and on the ground, and once you have mastered those you can continue your Self Perfection by focusing on one art or many arts. This is the code we live by at Philly Self Defense and we hope that those of you who don’t train realize the importance of Self Preservation for themselves and their loved ones.