self defense


A week ago we talked a bit about martial arts mysticism and weird self-defense claims. I used to read tons of martial arts magazines and was, over the years, exposed to all sorts of over-the-top beliefs and techniques. I’d like to think that UFC would have educated people about the reality of hand to hand combat – that a lot of it involves hugging on the ground and that you won’t be able to reliably kill someone with a single punch after a six month training course – but martial arts magazines continue to roll out ads about secret Russian streetfighting or Navy Seals ultimate killing techniques that just seem to gloss over the fact that unarmed fighting is a messy process that takes years to master. Whereas Russians, UFC and military combatives are the contemporary magic styles that will let you pave the streets in the blood of your enemies, this reverence for mystic and unbeatable fighting styles goes back for as long as there has been a publishing market for martial arts magazines. In the 80’s it was all about NINJAS. People believed in ninjas for real. They may not have bought all the ninja stories like how ninjas can change into bears or statues, but people were willing to believe that ninjas had powers unknown to science and were masters of a hidden fighting art that could kill anyone instantly. Whereas nowadays there is a ninjas vs. pirates debate, back in the 80’s there was no debate – there was only ninjas.

I have attached an image I scanned out of an 80’s era martial arts magazine. It sort of highlights how people used to play off of the buzz and mystique of a popular style. Also note how spelling and grammar are not necessary for learning how to end someone’s life with fatal streetfighting moves.