Recently a lot more people in the Portland area have started searching for self-defense classes. One of the options that often show up in those searches is Karate classes or karate programs for self-defense.

Of course, we’d rather have you here at SBG but regardless of whether you want to end up training with us, I implore you to read this article before making a decision to jump into Karate.

A majority of traditional martial arts including Karate spend a majority of their time learning and memorizing Kata.  Choreographed movements memorized and demonstrated as requirements for new belts.  Unfortunately, life isn’t choreographed, and self-defense isn’t a simple matter of learning patterns.

Training with resistance in and without patterns is where you can develop real skills. Reactions that you learned by being in similar circumstances time and time again. This doesn’t mean you have to fight, it just means you need to have those factors added in.

Let me give you an example, imagine you’re learning how to play soccer and you want to learn how to kick a goal. There are stages with varying levels of resistance. Being able to kick the ball into the goal would be the lowest level of resistance, trying to kick a goal against a goalie being a few tiers up. We could adapt your training or your “resistance” and tailor it to your current skill so you could build up.

Kicking the ball.

Kicking the ball into the goal.

Kicking the ball into the goal with a few pads in the way.

This is training with progressive resistance.

Unfortunately, a lot of traditional martial arts have missed this entirely. Imagine now trying to learn how to play soccer by spending hours pretending to kick a ball. You’d never develop a feel for the impact, how where you hit the ball can change the angle, let alone being able to hit your target (the goal) or moving target (the goal with a goalie in the way).

Self-defense works the same way. Awareness, listening to your gut feelings, leaving seemingly dangerous situations are all core self-defense skills.

However, if those fail and for some reason a situation gets physical, then you need to know how to handle the physical. Learning how to handle the physical can be built with those varying levels of resistance, resistance that you won’t get by practicing choreography.

One of the greatest martial arts revolutionaries of the last century, Bruce Lee, knew this.

At SBG Portland we actually have a copy of a mural Bruce Lee had in his garage. Take a look-

It highlights some of the strange ideas in traditional training. Strange seemingly unrelated exercises, “body toughening”, choreography, etc, but no one is in the water.

It’s no different than swimming. To learn to swim you need water, to learn to defend yourself you need to know how to fight.

Just like with swimming you need to work your way up. Start in the shallows, wear a life vest, and make sure a lifeguard is on duty.

Here at SBG, functional training is what we do. Training for everyone from kids looking to build coordination and confidence, to adults who want to be able to defend themselves.

Don’t take our word for it though, you can always check us out for free before making a decision. Enter in below or simply give us a call at 503-230-7924.