It might seem obvious that in order to train for self defense one should find the best self defense martial art. Of course this is only part of it. One must understand the concepts offered in your martial art of choice. Those who run martial arts schools say that their program or their martial art classes have a self-defense component. It may be true but what portion is really dedicated to the ultimate aim of self-defense and that would be to defend against common assaults? Tournament training are often a big portion of the training. Tournament training is yet another variation of fighting concepts and not at all what is needed to prepare for violent assaults in society.

The most popular martial arts today have their roots in military applications which is much, much different than is the situation on the streets of our modern world. Assaults on our streets today are usually by surprise attack or abduction. By contrast, in a military situation, encounters are often expected or planned. Even ambushes are not totally unexpected. Soldiers have heavy gear on and they usually have a heavy weapon not to mention knives, side-arm and other implements.

Soldiers in bygone eras had long spears, halberds, swords, club-like weapons and so on. They might have been on foot or they might have been on horseback. The methods to fight in these circumstances was drastically different. The techniques taught to these soldiers was relatively simple and not terribly thorough. After-all, their main defense was good balance on uneven ground (stance work) and physical fitness.

One example of a martial art that has a focused purpose of civilian self-defense is Leung Ting WingTsun®.

Wing Tsun™ was developed as a secret self-defense system and not as a sport at all since its beginnings about 300 years ago. Due to its completely different types of punches, stances and close-range emphasis, it has not been incorporated into today’s point-style tournaments successfully.

To be sure, Wing Tsun has its theory basis. Its basic training prepares a student with this basis. At first you have Wing Tsun technique against Wing Tsun technique. Not long after, however, common attack methods are incorporated into training drills. No consideration is made for any tournament application. This fact makes a considerable difference in the abilities one gains for practical self-defense.

Wing Tsun classes throughout our organization do not use multiple sets of choreographed self-defense scenarios. We start with simple attack examples and then base the defenses on circumstances and sticky hands skills.

Sticky hands skills (chi sau) are a significant skill set. In order to get a true idea in real time of an attacker’s actual movements, we use the sense of touch to gauge what are attacker is actually doing instead of relying on guess work, body language, fakes, feints and similar non-touch deceptions.

Significant self-defense skills are of greater interest to average people in the unpredictable times we live in. Finding the best self defense martial art seems like a worthwhile goal these days

-Sifu Keith Sonnenberg