Tag: Self-Defense

June Women’s Self-Defense Seminar

Learn essential self-defense skills in this empowering one-day Women's Self-Defense Seminar

Be able to fend off attackers and protect yourself and your loved ones at our Women's Self-Defense Seminar. In this seminar you will learn about the nature of attacks and violence, avoidance skills, mindset and disruption tactics, as well as practical defensive techniques that are easy to master and quick to use in the event of an attack.


This seminar is designed to be beginner-friendly and is open to everyone interested in joining us! We focus on the fundamentals that everyone can learn and do. No Hollywood movie stunts, no nonsense. Just real, effective, practical self-defense.

The seminar will close with what to do if you have been attacked, as well as a Q&A session to answer all of your questions.

Space is limited so sign up quickly to grab your spot. We cannot accept at-the-door registrations.

Seminar Details

June 30th (Saturday)

2:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Wik Academy of Martial Arts
8419 Cincinnati-Columbus Rd.
West Chester, OH 45069 (at the corner of Butler-Warren and Route 42/Reading Rd.)

$35 per person (non-members)
$20 per person (members)

What to Bring:
Just your fabulous self is all that is required! Water will be available but bringing a personal water bottle is always a good idea.

Questions? Send us an email at SimoWik@WikMartialArts.com or give us a call anytime at 513-760-5553.

Register Now Join the Event on Facebook

P.S., Training is way more fun with friends! If you sign up with a friend or family member use code BetterWithFriends to get $5 off your registration and give the code to your friends so they can share the discount!

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Start The New Year Off Right With Discounted Memberships in January

We all say we want to get in shape and start self-defense classes, but it's so easy to put it off. Don't let "I'll do it tomorrow" become "I'll do it eventually" or even "Eh, nevermind."

It's never too late to start learning self-defense and getting fit, and we're sweetening the deal with an exclusive bonus this January:

50% off new memberships this month only!

All you have to do is schedule a free trial class and sign up before January 31st to get in on the deal.

We'll Never Forget Our Current Students

We are so thankful for our current students - you make the gym awesome! So we have a special bonus for you too: do you know someone who would be interested in trying classes? If they sign up before January 31st we will double your referral bonus in February.

This offer is only for a limited time, so be sure to sign up before the end of the month.

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November Jeet Kune Do and Wing Chun Seminar With Guru Kevin Taylor

Guru Kevin Taylor, photo by Joe Imel

We are excited to announce we will be hosting Guru Kevin Taylor for an exclusive Jeet Kune Do and Wing Chun seminar on November 25th and 26th!

Both days will feature Wing Chun and Jeet Kune Do training. In the Wing Chun portions Guru Taylor will cover his perspective on the Siu Nim Tao form, as well as some Chi Sao drills and exercises.

Guru Kevin Taylor demonstrating a lock on one of his students at his school Kentucky Grapplers.

In the Jeet Kune Do portions training will cover trapping as well as standing and ground lock flows.

Guru Kevin Taylor has been studying martial arts for over 30 years. He started in Goju Shorei Karate and currently holds a fifth-degree black belt in the art, as well as having competed in national and regional tournaments around the country. In the mid-1980s while living in England Guru Taylor began to train in several different martial arts, including Muay Thai with Master Toddy, Pentjak Silat with Guro Jak Othman, and Wing Chun and Kali with Sifu Nino Bernado, who was a student of Wong Shun Leung. Kevin is currently an instructor in Wing Chun and Kali under Nino Bernado.

Near the end of his stay in England Kevin met Sifu Larry Hartsell, Bruce Lee’s premier fighter. When he returned to the United States, Kevin trained under Sifu Hartsell eventually becoming his assistant, traveling the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Germany, Finland, Australia, and New Zealand. Guru Taylor also assisted Sifu Hartsell on many seminars for Law Enforcement and Military including SEAL teams between Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Guru Kevin is a Senior Full Instructor in Sifu Larry Hartsell’s Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do Grappling Association.

Currently Guru Kevin Taylor owns and runs his own martial arts gym in Bowling Green, Kentucky called Kentucky Grapplers.

This is an awesome opportunity to train with an amazing instructor - you won’t want to miss it! Be sure to register to reserve your spot and also join the Facebook event page for updates.

Seminar Details

November 25th and 26th, 2017 (Saturday & Sunday)

10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Wik Academy of Martial Arts
8419 Cincinnati-Columbus Rd.
West Chester, OH 45069 (at the corner of Butler-Warren and Route 42/Reading Rd.)

Early Registration:
1 Day: $75 / 2 Days: $135

Registration At Door:
1 Day: $90 / 2 Days: $150

What to Bring:
Bring a light lunch or snack as there will be a short break for lunch at the midway point. Water will be available but bringing a personal water bottle is always a good idea.

Register Now Join the Event on Facebook

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Everything You Need To Know About Pepper Spray – A Guide

U.S. Navy Master-at-Arms Justin Farrow sprays a sailor in the face with OC spray during a training course.

Pepper spray, self-defense spray, mace - there are lots of names for those canisters of spray you can carry around and use to deter an assailant. But what are the differences between sprays? Which one is best?

There's a surprising amount of detail and options in choosing the right self-defense spray and in this article our goal is to explain the differences between the common options, how to pick the best one for your needs, debunking some myths, and everything you need to know to use self-defense spray effectively.

Why Get A Self-Defense Spray?

The first, and biggest, is the barrier to entry for pepper spray is almost non-existent. You don’t need any special paperwork or licenses to own it, it’s legal in every state (although sometimes with restrictions), and pepper spray is very cheap.

Pepper Spray is also less-lethal and it works, which is the other major reason why we recommend it so often. It is incredibly effective against attackers even though it won’t cause any lasting damage. More importantly, should you lose it or get it taken away from you, it also won’t cause any lasting harm to you or anyone else.

And lastly, a small but still important benefit to carrying pepper spray is that it is lightweight and many canisters are also small, making them easy to carry around. This can also work to their detriment, but overall I consider it a benefit.

For Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana Residents: There are no restrictions on the sale, size, formula, or possession of pepper spray. We recommend individuals in other states to always check their local and state regulations before making a purchase.

How to Pick The Right Spray

To pick the right kind of pepper spray or gel, you need to consider a few things - the formula, the strength, the size, and whether you want a spray or a gel.

The formula is the most important piece of choosing the right spray. There are three types of chemicals available on the general market for self-defense: CN (Phenacyl chloride), CS (2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile), and OC (oleoresin capsicum). CN and CS are irritants originally developed for military use - you may know some of the formulas that use one or both of these, such as tear gas and Mace (a specific branded formula of CN).

CN and CS work by irritating the mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, mouth, and lungs causing tearing, coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing, and burning pain. In some cases, it can even cause vomiting and disorientation. It's less common but skin exposure to these chemicals, especially in a higher concentration, can also cause chemical burns. At very close range it can also scar the cornea causing permanent eye damage. Symptoms usually appear after 20-60 seconds of exposure and usually clear up after 30 minutes to an hour.

Yep, pepper spray comes from peppers. Ever chopped a jalapeno then accidentally rubbed your eye afterward? That burning feeling? Imagine that, but even stronger and also in your lungs, nose, mouth, and all over your skin. Or maybe don't imagine it. Your choice.

OC (pepper spray/capsicum) causes the mucous membranes to become inflamed, not just irritated, and also causes immediate closing of the eyes, difficulty breathing, tears, runny nose, coughing, burning sensations on the skin, and upper body spasms. Symptoms are typically immediate upon exposure. The worst symptoms usually subside after 30-50 minutes, with diminished effects lasting up to several hours.

Of self-defense spray formulas, OC is the best for self-defense. CS and CN depend on the attacker’s reaction to the irritation, and the reaction can often be overcome or non-existent due to the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. OC causes inflammation so no matter what your mental or physical state is, your body will react to it. The degree depends on the person, strength of the formula, how much actually contacts them, and furthermore, if they’ve ever encountered it before or if they have trained themselves to be able to fight through it. It’s not a magic bullet but it is the best of the choices available.

Most pepper sprays only contain one of the three chemicals listed above, however there are also some that contain a blend of the different formulas.

Strength of the formula for OC spray depends on both heat/strength of the peppers used and concentration. The heat of the peppers used to make OC are graded using Scoville Heat Units (SHU) and range from 500,000 to 5.3 million. The more SHUs, the stronger the reaction the spray will cause. Ideally, look for at least 1 million SHUs.

Concentration of OC spray is listed on most products, varying from 1% to 40%. A concentration of 5% will typically affect a person for about 30 minutes, so look for sprays 5% or higher. Some companies label their sprays by “total capsaicinoids” or “true heat indicator” which is a calculation of the combined concentration and SHU. The highest numbers commonly seen by this measurement are around 2%.

If the spray you are looking at does not list the formula alongside either the concentration, the SHU, or the total capsaicinoids, don’t buy it. Ideally, you want one with the highest combination of OC percentage and SHU.

Self-defense sprays come in all sizes, from keychain rings to large spray canisters for police use. The keychain units are convenient, cheap, and easy to carry everywhere but since they are so small, they usually only contain a few seconds worth of spray and often cannot spray more than five feet.

Sprays also often come in 1-3 ounce containers which can offer much more spray time and often can cover a greater distance too (15-20 feet). They aren’t as convenient to carry around, but personally I like this size most for everyday carrying since they are a good balance of convenience and usefulness.

As mentioned, self-defense sprays do come in larger containers which are impractical for carrying around but are ideal when concealment and ease of carrying isn’t a concern, such as keeping in the home as a defense tool.

The final thing to consider in a spray is the spray pattern and whether it is a spray or a gel. Each has its own pros and cons you’ll have to weigh when choosing which one to purchase.

The stream pattern comes out in a single, solid stream, similar to a water gun. Streams have the longest range and best targeting, however require the owner to be more precise with their firing in order to ensure the attacker actually inhales the chemical. Similarly, pepper gels often come in the stream pattern and have all of the same pros and cons but with the added benefit of being a gel so the chance of blow back is significantly decreased.

Another option is the aerosol spray, fog, or mist pattern. This spray pattern creates a cloud of pepper spray into the air so the attacker is more likely to inhale the active ingredients in the spray. While this pattern is more likely to affect the target and requires less precision in firing, there is a great variability in spread so it will affect anyone who happens to be in the cloud. Additionally, being smaller particles they also linger in the air longer and so the risk of being accidentally contaminated from blow-back is higher.

The last common spray pattern we’ll look at is foam. The name is pretty descriptive, as the consistency of foam sprays are like common liquid foams you’ve probably encountered. Foams have similar advantages and disadvantages to gels and sprays with the stream pattern, are very sticky, and can cover an opponent’s face extremely well. However, they are also the slowest to take effect. I would only recommend pepper foams and gels if you are greatly concerned with contamination (which for certain health concerns, such as asthma, you would want to consider) with the added note that these types of pepper spray require a greater amount of practice.

Plan How You Will Carry It

Once you know what to look for in a self-defense spray, the next step is to plan how you will carry it. You can also get multiple canisters for different occasions - one for when you are out on a jog, hike, or bike ride, one for when you are out running errands or with friends, and so on.

Knowing what occasions you will be carrying your spray with you will help you figure out the best place to carry it on you, as well as a deployment plan if it becomes necessary to use.

Don’t keep your spray at the bottom of your purse, on a keychain (even if it is a keychain unit), or anywhere not quickly accessible! Test out the places you will carry your spray - start a timer and test how long it takes you to get your spray out, disengage the safety if it has one, then aim and prepare to spray. Were you able to do all of this in two seconds or less? If not, find another place to keep it. In an attack, every second matters and if it takes you too long to deploy or if you have to fumble to access your canister, you might as well not even have it.

Practice! Practice! Practice!

U.S. Navy Training includes fighting back while suffering the effects of pepper spray.
Fire Controlman 3rd Class Robin Norris, from Wailuku, Hawaii, defends herself from a simulated attacker after being sprayed with oleoresin capsicum (OC) spray during security reactionary forces training on the flight deck. What a badass!
Photo courtesy the U.S.
Navy and Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Declan Barnes

Being able to use pepper spray effectively requires that you are comfortable with it, can access it quickly, and can hit your target. Thusly, you should practice with your spray every so often until it becomes as natural to you as riding a bike.

Every brand has their own operational design, so it’s important that you are familiar and comfortable with the particular one you choose to carry. Does it have a safety? How does the trigger work? Is it easy to tell by feel which direction the nozzle is facing?

An easy way to practice on your own is to have your spray on you where you would most likely keep it and set up some paper plates in your backyard or in a field at varying distances and heights (but around where an attacker’s head might be.) Then you can practice deploying and firing at the plates. Bonus points if you time it.

If you want to go the extra mile, you can also have someone spray you so you know what to expect and can prepare yourself if you ever get accidentally contaminated during an encounter.

Side note: accidentally get some pepper spray on you? There’s a 99% chance it won’t be the end of the world, but it does suck. Unfortunately, the best thing to do for treatment is to just wait and try not to touch the affected areas. If you have a respiratory condition and get contaminated by any form of self-defense spray, seek medical attention immediately.

Pepper Spray Tactics

Shut up and spray them. If you are in a sketchy situation or attacked, don’t announce your actions or that you have pepper spray on you. The less an assailant knows about you and your capabilities, the better. Don’t give them the opportunity to anticipate what you might do, don’t give them the opportunity to preempt you or stop you from defending yourself.

There is no legal requirement to announce that you are going to spray them. It’s highly unlikely that it will cause them any long-term ill effects. Spray them and run away.

Spray and run. Hanging around someone who intends you harm, even if you did get the spray into their face and they are suffering the effects of it, only increases your chance of getting hurt further. Sometimes the spray doesn’t work, sometimes it effects them for a few seconds, sometimes a whole minute. These details aren’t important to you, getting to safety is. Spray them and get out of there as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Aim for the Face. This should go without saying, but it’s still a key element to keep in mind with self-defense sprays. The spray has to get in their eyes and lungs to be effective, so you can’t just spray willy-nilly and hope for the best.

Don’t waste spray. Once the spray is in the assailant’s face continuing to use more spray is not more effective. It’s wasteful and can potentially weaken what has gotten into their face, increasing the amount of time for the chemical to take effect.

Don’t get any closer than you have to. The closer you get to the attacker, the greater the risk of having the canister taken away from you. Use it as soon as you feel it is necessary, back away and create distance if you can.

Consider backup plans. Pepper spray is effective most of the time. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes it takes a while for it to affect the attacker. It’s possible that you miss them entirely. Point is, be prepared for things to go sideways and you’ll need to have a backup plan.

If you spray for five seconds and it doesn’t have any effect, throw it away as far as possible so the attacker has to chase after it if they want to take it and use it against you.

Pepper Spray Maintenance

Yep, I said pepper spray maintenance. There are a few things you need to know in order to make sure your canister will work if and when you need it:

Shake your canister monthly. This will ensure the active ingredients will stay mixed with the carrier agent.

Test fire your spray every two-to-three months. The nozzles are small but debris can still find its way in there, so make sure the nozzle is clear and can still fire as expected.

Pepper Spray Expires! Be sure to replace it by the date on the package. If there is no date on the package, replace every two years. The pepper in the spray will still be potent, but aerosols lose pressure over time. A pepper spray that can’t spray is of no use to you.


Self-defense sprays are an excellent and potent option for anyone looking for a way to protect themselves. They’re cheap, easy to carry, legal in most states, and don’t require the same amount of training a more lethal option would.

Consider your habits, pick the OC spray right for you, practice, and maintain your canisters for the best results. Combine this with good situational awareness and you’ll have the best chances of getting out of a bad situation.

Bonus: Side notes and Recommended Sprays

I’ve seen a lot of people recommend things like wasp spray and hairspray as alternatives to pepper spray. Why, when they are less easy to carry and cost the same, I just don’t know. Furthermore, there is even less of a guarantee that they will be effective. Buy what has been proven to work and don’t waste your money.

Similarly, be careful buying a canister with a novelty shape. Companies market sprays in a variety of novelty containers like lipstick, pens, flashlights, grenades, and even firearms. Carrying around pepper spray in a canister shaped like a firearm is a terrible idea on many levels, but worse still is that some of these shapes, while unique, are often less reliable and more difficult to deploy than regular canisters.

Bear Sprays actually use the same chemical as OC self-defense sprays, and it’s commonly thought are actually stronger than most OC self-defense sprays. This idea seems plausible considering that an angry bear is much larger and stronger than any human and therefore must require a stronger spray to deter, right? Thanks to this line of thinking (and few people actually bothering to check) it’s oft repeated that Bear Spray is stronger than self-defense spray.

If you can’t guess from my tone, this is false. Bear Sprays are rarely stronger than OC self-defense sprays. Of course this varies from product to product and you will have to compare packaging, but to summarize it quickly bear spray is regulated by the EPA and must conform to a set of standards (self-defense sprays aren’t heavily regulated) such as they must be 1-2% OC, in canisters of around 8 oz, be able to cover 25 feet, among a handful of other standards. Point is: it’s well regulated, a very effective deterrent for bears, but not always a better option for deterring another human.

Without further ado, here are a few sprays we like:

Small Containers

Sabre Red Runner Spray - Small (.75 oz) and made with an adjustable strap for easy holding the Sabre Red Runner Gel is a great option for when you are out on a jog. At 10% OC and 2 million SHU, it’s also on the higher end of the strength spectrum. They also have a UV dye in them to help identify suspects. It is a gel, so be sure to practice your targeting! These generally run $10-15 and can be purchased directly from Sabre, from Amazon.com, or you can support us and purchase from us.

Fox Labs Mean Green - The Mean Green line of Fox Labs’ comes in 15 gram to 3 oz canisters, 6% OC, and multiple stream patterns (splatter stream, stream, and cone fog). These are small but powerful sprays with a green dye in them to help identify suspects. The average price range on these is $14-30 and can be purchased via Fox Labs or Amazon.

1-3 ounce containers

Fox Labs Five Point Three - Fox Labs’ Five Point Three line comes in 1.5-3 oz canisters, all at 2% THI, and your choice of spray pattern (fog, foam, stream). They also have a flip-top to prevent accidental discharges. Additionally, these sprays contain a UV Dye to help suspect identification. Price ranges from $18-$25, and these can be purchased directly from Fox Labs, as well as on Amazon.

Large containers

Sabre Red Home Defense Gel - All the same as the above Sabre products except this comes in a 13oz canister. Usually around $50 and can be found on Sabre, Amazon, or via us.

Fox Labs Five Point Three Tactical Unit - The big brother of the Five Point Three line, these monsters come in at 12 oz and in Fog or Stream patterns. They’re usually around $60 and can also be found on Amazon.

If you can’t tell, we really like Sabre Red and Fox Labs. They both make quality products, but they aren’t the only companies out there. There are plenty of other manufacturers of OC spray, so be sure to read reviews and check the packages when making a decision.

Training Sprays

Not to sound too much like a sales ad, but if you are serious about buying a self-defense spray, as I noted above it’s ideal to train with it.

Don’t want to waste product and money spraying OC spray everywhere? Look for inert training units - particularly from the same company your OC spray is from, so the canister design will be as similar as possible. These are usually cheaper than their active cousins, so your wallet won’t hurt too much from it.

Do you have a brand of spray you like or a unique method of training? Feel free to share your recommendations with everyone in the comments below.

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October Silat Seminar with Maha Guru de-Bordes

Maha Guru Richard Crabbe de-Bordes returns for another Harimau Minangkabau/Pencak Macan Hitam Silat seminar this October 21st & 22nd.

Maha Guru de-Bordes began his martial arts journey in his home of France, later traveling to Spain, Holland, and Indonesia to follow his teacher Maha Guru Adityo Mataram Hanafi. After many years of training, Guru de-Bordes moved to London, England in the early 1980s to open the first Harimau Pencak Silat school in the UK.

He has continued to develop and adapt the Harimau Silat style focusing on self-defense aspects and incorporating aspects of other silat systems he has learned. Guru de-Bordes has taught and acted as an advisor to many special forces groups and police tactical teams. Currently, he resides in Ghana working as a security consultant to the president.


October 21 & 22, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. both days

Earlybird Registration: (Now - October 4)
1 Day: $75 (Use code EARLYONE)
2 Days: $135 (Use code EARLYTWO)
Regular Registration: (October 4 - October 21)
1 Day: $85
2 Days: $150

Wik Academy of Martial Arts
8419 Cincinnati-Columbus Rd.
West Chester, OH 45069 (at the corner of Butler-Warren and Route 42/Reading Rd.)

What to Bring:

There will be a short break both days for lunch, so please bring a small lunch as well as plenty of water to drink.

Register Now Join the Event on Facebook

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Thank You Tuhon Leslie Buck!

Tuhon Leslie Buck at the Wik Academy of Martial Arts to teach Pencak Silat Mande Muda and Pekiti Tirsia Kali.

We at the Wik Academy wanted to thank Tuhon Leslie Buck for coming all the way from Austin, Texas to teach another amazing seminar this past weekend. We also wanted to thank everyone who took the time out of their weekends to join us in learning Pencak Silat and Pekiti Tirsia Kali.

We can't wait to have him back again!

Tuhon Leslie Buck at the Wik Academy of Martial Arts to teach Pencak Silat Mande Muda and Pekiti Tirsia Kali. Tuhon Leslie Buck at the Wik Academy of Martial Arts to teach Pencak Silat Mande Muda and Pekiti Tirsia Kali.

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Pekiti Tirsia Kali & Pencak Silat Mande Muda Seminar with Tuhon Leslie Buck

Tuhon Leslie Buck of the Tactical Arts Academy

Boost your kali and silat skills this fall with Tuhon Leslie Buck of the Tactical Arts Academy of Austin, Texas. Tuhon Buck joins us again for a special two-day seminar this September 9th and 10th.

This seminar will focus on single and double-stick techniques from Pekiti Tirsia Kali, as well as open-hand techniques from Pencak Silat Mande Muda.

Tuhon Leslie Buck has over 15 years of experience teaching law enforcement and military fighting and defensive tactics skills, and even more as owner and founder of the Tactical Arts Academy.

Tuhon Leslie Buck of the Tactical Arts Academy.
Tuhon Leslie Buck of the Tactical Arts Academy.


September 9-10, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. both days

Earlybird Registration: (Now - August 21)
1 Day: $75
2 Days: $135
Regular Registration: (August 22 - September 9/10)
1 Day: $85
2 Days: $150

Wik Academy of Martial Arts
8419 Cincinnati-Columbus Rd.
West Chester, OH 45069 (at the corner of Butler-Warren and Route 42/Reading Rd.)

What to Bring:

If you have a set of escrima please bring them as we have a limited number available to lend out. If you would like to buy a pair of escrima from us you can do so online or at the Academy. Please buy your sticks at least one week ahead of time to ensure stock.

There will be a short break both days for lunch, so please bring a lunch as well as plenty of water to drink. Alternatively, we will also be bringing sandwich supplies for anyone who didn't bring a lunch. Everyone is welcome to it, we just ask that you chip in a few dollars.

Register Now Join the Event on Facebook

Tuhon Leslie Buck of the Tactical Arts Academy.
Tuhon Leslie Buck of the Tactical Arts Academy.

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11 Crucial Home Defense & Security Tips

German Shepherd by Christoph Schmid

While there are countless reasons to pursue self-defense training, one we hear often from students when we ask them what motivated them to start training is that they want to know they can protect themselves and their loved ones.

Knowing how to physically defend yourself doesn't have to be the only method to do that. These 11 tips will make sure that if the worst does come to pass and you find yourself in a situation where you need to protect yourself and your home you'll have a higher chance of making sure everyone comes out of it safe. This is absolutely not a comprehensive list - there are a lot of things to consider in planning for a situation where an intruder has entered your home - but it will get you started.

Understanding the Mindset of an Intruder

Professional burglars spend time to plan out their targets and perform enough reconnaissance to make their work as easy as they can. This means they are not the type who will be breaking in when someone is home. You are more likely to get an intruder that falls into one of the categories of:

  • Inexperienced Burglar Who Doesn't Realize You're Home

  • Burglar Desperate Enough to Not Care You're Home (Someone Suffering from Addiction, etc.)

  • Burglar Who Knows You're Home & Enjoys the Thrill / Potential for Violence

  • Unknown Intruder Who Specifically Intends Harm (Kidnapper, Rapist, Murderer, etc.)

  • Known Intruder Who Specifically Intends Harm (Domestic Abuse, Angry Ex, etc.)

Most of these types of intruder are willing (or already decided) to do you or the people in your home harm. Intruders who aren't will generally run when it becomes clear someone is home. Because of that distinction you should always treat an intruder who doesn't run when confronted as one who is a threat to your life. For that reason you need to be prepared to do what's necessary to end the threat. Even in a situation where your life is threatened it's not necessarily easy to get in the mindset of being prepared to fight for your life, so it's important to know the type of person you're likely up against in order to be mentally ready.

Broken Glass

Home Defense & Home Security Tips

  • Have a Plan and Supplies Ready - Do you have a plan in place for what to do if you wake up to a house fire? Do you have a plan for if a tornado is about to hit? Do you have a plan for a flood?

    Hopefully, you answered yes to all of those. A home invasion should be treated no differently than any of those other emergency situations. You need to have a plan in place for exactly what you and everyone else in the household should do as soon as it becomes clear there's an intruder. Everyone needs to know the plan well enough to execute it out of habit, without panicking. If you have a plan in place but your spouse or children don't know it well enough then you don't have a plan. Know what room everyone should get to for safety, have backup options in place in case you or a family member is cut off from that room, and know where your supplies are and how to use them.

    Panicked people tend to wander, or try to bolt. Having a predetermined rally point or hiding place and knowing that a specific spouse or older children are in charge of moving elderly family members or the younger children will help ensure no one endangers themselves.

    Another aspect of this type of planning is having your supplies in place where they will be most useful. If your safe point is the master bedroom do you have a flashlight, firearm, first aid kit with CAT tourniquet and quick clotting agents, and backup phone or charger stored there? Do you have any critical prescription medication, inhalers, etc. that a family member might need if you are barricaded in there? Just like you would stock a safe area in a basement with food, water, a radio, and other things in case of a tornado if you have a plan for an intruder but no supplies you might as well not have a plan.

  • Evade, Hide, and Barricade - Always place a focus on avoiding contact first. The best way to guarantee an intruder can't hurt you is to not be where they can reach you. If you're alone in your home and close to an exit when you discover an intruder, there is nothing wrong with exiting your home to seek shelter at a neighbor's. If you can't outright escape like that, or if there are other family members to consider, get everyone to your designated safe point as quickly and safely as you can.

    If an intruder blocks access to your designated safe point then having a secondary place to hide is important. Particularly in situations where you are unarmed, concealing yourself until you can move to a better position or until police arrive is often the best bet. Trust in your family members to follow the plan and call the police.

    Your safe point should be a room with a limited number of access points which you can securely barricade. This can mean specific hardware improvements like installing deadbolts, kick plates, and solid wood or metal interior doors - or it can just mean knowing there's a heavy dresser on hand to shove against the door. Your barricade should be set up so that everyone in the room can be positioned at a 90-degree angle from the barricade and entry. This not only allows the best positioning to engage the attacker before you're seen if it comes to it, but it also clears the likely line of fire through the door itself if the intruder has a firearm.

  • Have a Police Script Ready - It is unavoidable for there to be some level of panic in a situation where someone has invaded your home. Panic will make you forget details, repeat things, speak quickly and unclearly, and in general make it more difficult for the emergency operator to get the key information they need to get help to you as quickly as possible.

    Having a planned list of what information to relay to the emergency dispatcher ready and stored with your other supplies in your safe point will make sure you don't miss key information, and that if the only person in the safe point able to call 911 is a small child or someone more likely to panic they have a clear list of what to convey.

    The key information to include is: Where You Are (Both Your Address and Location Inside the House), Where the Intruder Is, What Is Happening (Number of Intruders, Is Anyone Injured, the Intruder's Entry Point, Possible Intent), Whether You any Family Members or the Intruder Are Armed, What You and Any Family Members Look Like and Are Wearing, and lastly What the Intruder Looks Like and Is Wearing.

    The operator may request additional information, but that basic list will get them enough crucial information to ensure help, and the right help, gets there as fast as possible.

  • Make Your Home a Hard Target - You will never be able to stop someone from entering your home who wants in badly enough. However, having enough complications present for the intruder as possible can encourage them to give up, or choose another house. Even in cases where the person knows you and is specifically targeting you it can make the difference between having enough time to enact your plan and being caught unawares.

    Make sure you have adequate outdoor lighting, preferably on a motion sensor. Install an alarm system, even if you don't have it connect to a security company. Install sturdy deadbolts and kick plates that are rated to be kick and crowbar resistant. Make sure any sliding doors have a metal security bar, and that all windows both lock and have burglar latches engaged. If you have windows within arms reach of a door install a deadbolt with a keyhole on both sides so that a person can't smash the glass and reach in to unlock it. Keep bushes and anything that might provide concealment trimmed low and away from windows so there aren't any hidden places for an intruder to attempt to break in. Don't leave ladders or other tools out that could be used to break into your home where anyone can access them.

    We cannot emphasize enough how important it is to remember to always lock your doors.
    We cannot emphasize enough how important it is to remember to always lock your doors.

    It's also a good idea to consider a camera system. Personally, I'm a fan of Nest cameras - they're not necessarily the cheapest option, but when it comes to security trying to go the cheapest route isn't always the best idea. Having a camera system is both a potential deterrent and also a good way to ensure if you have to defend yourself you have video to verify self-defense claims. An outdoor camera at the front door will also allow you to see who is knocking without standing right behind the door in a potential fire zone.

    Lastly, please do not ever hide a key to your home outside. Ever. If you absolutely must have a backup key outside put it into a combination lock box that is secured to something or bolted to the structure from inside the box.

  • Get First Aid Training - Things don't always go to plan. In a home invasion situation you or others may make it to your rally point having suffered gunshot wounds, lacerations, puncture wounds, etc. It's not enough to have a well-stocked trauma kit, you need to know enough emergency aid to deal with these types of critical injuries. It also gives you the tools to save the life of an intruder once you have neutralized the threat - once they are no longer a danger to you and your home is clear there's no reason not to stabilize them.

    If you've never had any kind of emergency medical training you likely don't even know how much there is you don't know beyond controlling bleeding. How to identify and clear obstructed airways, how to properly seal a sucking chest wound and provide chest decompression, and how to avoid shock or hypothermia are all things you may not have even realized you should know.

    The Red Cross and other organizations often offer first aid and emergency aid training. You should also check with your local community center as many offer classes in first aid and/or CPR free for residents. We also work with EMTs to offer occasional seminars in trauma first response.

  • Know How to Defend Yourself - This one probably goes without saying, but knowing how to defend yourself with and against a variety of weapons is important. While you should try not to engage any intruders until placed in a situation where it is unavoidable, having the skills to do so is critical.

    When learning for the purpose of home defense you should include empty hand, blade, blunt instrument, and firearm training at a minimum. Additionally always be sure that any weapon or self-defense tool you keep with your supplies or close enough at hand to use in a home invasion scenario is one that you specifically train with. If you keep OC spray in your nightstand but have never practiced charging and deploying it, the odds of you successfully doing so in a high-stress situation significantly diminish.

Firearms for Home Defense

Firearms can be used for home defense but there are several things to take into consideration when choosing the right one for you.
Firearms can be used for home defense but there are several things to take into consideration when choosing the right one for you.

These last few tips deal specifically with considerations for the inclusion of firearms in a home defense plan. The topic of whether or not to - and how best to - prep, store, and deploy firearms in a home defense situation is one that deserves it's own article. These tips will give some basic guidance in the matter for those considering their use.

  • Drill Your Deployment - You should already drill the plan you've put in place in case of a home invasion, particularly if you have family members to consider. Having a firearm in play adds the additional level to your drilling of being sure you, and anyone else who may need to, can access and deploy the weapon safely, quickly, and efficiently.

    If your firearm is in a safe you need to practice opening that safe to access the firearm. You might be shaky and pumped full of adrenaline, or groggy and half asleep. If the first time you have to try to access and deploy your firearm from its storage place is when you hear glass breaking downstairs then you're setting yourself up for failure. Your spouse and any children you deem capable of doing so should also be drilling. You might not be home, might be cut off from the safe point, or might be critically wounded before anyone can react.

    It's a personal decision on who you want to be entrusted with access to the firearm. Odds of self-injury with a firearm are much higher than odds of an intruder breaking in, so it's important to know that allowing access won't make everyone less safe than they otherwise are. Know that those with access are both responsible enough to have it, and properly trained to do so. The one exception to making things as real as possible is that when drilling never use a loaded firearm - the chance for injury to yourself and others when trying to train yourself to do things quickly isn't worth it.

  • Get Tactical Training - Logging thousands of hours of range time is not the same thing as firing from a compromised position in the dark at a moving target while your fight or flight system is kicked into high gear. Seek out qualified instruction specifically targeted to situations involving an intruder in your home. Whenever possible do this training with the actual firearm and gear you keep ready for that situation, or at least an identical model of firearm. Be sure that any family members entrusted to deploy a firearm if needed also have adequate training.

    While we work some elements of the Center Axis Relock system of close-quarters firearm combatives into our training at the Academy in our firearm defenses, we lack the facilities for live fire training. Locally I often recommend people to the Tactical Training Center run by T.I.G. as a great option. They have the proper facilities to provide the type of training needed, a full team of expert instructors, and offer classes in topics like cover and concealment, firing from a vehicle, and night fire that you can't often find at a basic indoor range. They also offer occasional special courses specifically in home defense and emergency medicine.

  • Choose Your Firearm Carefully - There are a lot of considerations that need to go into choosing a firearm that you intend to deploy in the case of a home invasion.

    Your MK18 Daniel Defense 5.56mm SBR with tactical foregrip, EOTech XPS3-0 HOLO Sight, and Streamlight 69265 TLR-2 rail mounted combo green laser sight/flashlight might make you look like such a bad-ass the intruder's likely to wet themselves - but can you maneuver it in that narrow hallway? Can your spouse or child handle it effectively? Will rounds that miss their target penetrate to a neighbor's house or apartment, or your child's bedroom?

    Unfortunately, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. That SBR I described may be a terrible choice for one person and an ideal one for another. Some things you have to consider when selecting a firearm, or even choosing between handgun, shotgun, or carbine, are: the potential for overpenetration (drywall does not do a great job stopping bullets), maneuverability of the weapon in your home, ease of operation under stress, ease of operation by others (a shotgun might not be a good choice if your 12-year-old daughter has to be the one grabbing the gun), ammunition capacity, and availability and ease-of-use of attachments such as flashlights.

    Take time to determine what firearm will be the best fit for your situation, and then make sure everyone who will potentially have to operate it has been trained to do so.

  • Ambush, Don't Stalk - While part of you may want to attempt to sweep and clear your house, either once you've determined someone has broken into your home or once you've neutralized an initial intruder, you should never do so unless you have to retrieve and secure a family member in another part of the house.

    Clearing a room is something best done with a team. If everyone is hunkered down in your safe spot there is no reason to try to clear your house - wait and let the police do it. Especially without anyone backing you the room for error moving through a building with a hostile intruder in it is enormous. By contrast, if you're hunkered down at a 90-degree angle to a barricaded entry point that is the sole way into a room the odds are stacked much more in your favor.

    Even as the rest of the family is moving to your safe point, if you can take up a position to cover the area at a channelization point while they do there is no reason to go looking for the intruder. If everyone is asleep upstairs and you hear someone breaking in on the first floor, it's always going to better to take up a covered position at the top of the staircase than to rush downstairs to engage. Setting an ambush and letting them walk into your sights is safer than risking stumbling into theirs.

A Focus on Preparedness

These are just a handful of tips to help you ensure you're prepared to keep yourself and your family safe in the event of an intruder. There are more considerations than can be reasonably covered here, but the central point that unifies all of these are cultivating an attitude of preparedness.

The odds of an aggressive intruder breaking into your home while it's occupied are relatively low - so don't let thinking about and preparing for things like this get you worried. It doesn't accomplish anything to dwell all the time on whether or not a tornado is going to come through, you just set things up so that if it ever does you're ready to do what's needed to keep everyone safe. The same goes for this sort of situation.

If you have specific questions about any of these tips, feel free to reach out via the Contact page or give us a call at 513-760-5553.

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9 Women’s Self-Defense Myths

Mysterious Man

The world of what makes good martial arts and self-defense is a complicated and muddy one. Narrow that down to women's self-defense and it's even worse. Like in the fitness and nutrition industry there’s a lot of conflicting advice, self-proclaimed experts passing off bad advice to make a quick buck, and pride alongside good, well-educated instructors.

It can be overwhelming to go through all of the conflicting advice to sort out what is true and what isn’t. Add to that the fact that fear is a daily part of many women’s lives and it’s easy to take the path of least resistance and look for anything that promises a quick, easy solution.

To make that process a little easier, let’s bust some of the common myths surrounding self-defense for women and help everyone make better choices.

1. Shut Down Any Attacker With This One Move…

Lots of people - especially in online videos - like to advertise simple, one-shot defenses. “This technique will stop an attacker every time!” “Do this joint lock if you’re grabbed!” “Go for the eyes!”

The problem with relying on one simple defense is that there are so many variables in an attack that no one 'technique' can account for all of them. Attacks are not the rigid, turn-taking encounters like you might see in a video or practice. They are dynamic, hectic, and vary even more depending on who is attacking you. What if you try that one cool, ancient move you saw but it doesn’t work? What if the attacker knows how to defend against it? What if they punch you in the face?

You cannot rely on any one technique to protect yourself, if you truly want to know how to defend yourself you need to learn how to fight in a variety of situations and ranges, and against partners who are resisting.

2. “A Good Kick To You-Know-Where Never Fails”

I wish.

So many "experts" in women's self-defense love to tell them to "simply kick the groin and you'll take out any guy!" Unfortunately though, hitting a fella in the groin is not guaranteed to stop him. Most guys have been hit there at least a few times and have ingrained automatic responses to protect that area. You might even be dealing with someone on enough controlled substances to have a severely dulled pain response. Some have even learned how to ignore hits to the area. I’m not saying don’t go for it - if there is an opportunity, hit it! But don’t rely on it.

Much like there is no magic bullet technique, hitting a male in the groin is also not a magic bullet to taking them out.

3. All You Need Is A Weekend Women's Self-Defense Seminar

Seminars are a great way to learn the basics in a short amount of time, but don’t expect to become an expert in just a few hours.

Only so much can be taught in such a limited amount of time, and to become good at it you will need to keep practicing what you've learned. If you do go to a seminar there are a few simple tips to get the most out of it.

How to get the most out of a seminar:

  • Take a notebook. Making notes about the things you've learned will help digest the information you've just learned, and provide a great way to review again later.
  • Ask if you can record yourself practicing the techniques. Many instructors won't want you to film them teaching but might be okay if you film yourself, so be sure to ask!
  • Ask lots of questions. Making sure you understand the information and techniques is crucial for it to be useful to you.
  • Keep Practicing! The most important element of being good at self-defense is practice. Like any skill, the more you practice the better you get and the more the movements become like second-nature. This is what you should be aiming for - so practice as often as you can and if possible, find someone to practice with.

4. Gimmicky Weapons/Tools

Whole industries are devoted to peddling disguised weapons. Many of these “weapons” fail to actually think about the scenarios in which they’d be used, overstate their effectiveness, and/or are just plain useless. They’ll use the best marketing tactics and sales-talk to convince you that their weapon is “the best” tool to protect yourself with.

The biggest problem with most self-defense weapons on the market is that they are about as effective as a security blanket, and fail to account for the most likely attacker. Hint: It’s probably not going to be that weirdo who cat-called you. Unfortunately, the most likely person to violently attack a woman is someone they know (a friend, a relative, or a partner) and the attack will most likely come when their guard is down.

For the sake of space, I won’t list every single bad tool out there, but here’s a couple of the most common we’ve seen going around lately:

The Go Guarded is a well-intentioned women's self-defense tool but fails to be practical.
This is not how you punch.

GoGuarded - These are little rings that you place on your finger with a spike on them. The main selling points is that it’s a sharp point that you can use to defend yourself and since it’s on a ring it cannot be easily taken away.

While it’s great that it can’t be easily taken away - that’s one of the biggest concerns with any weapon or tool - the angle the point is at is completely ridiculous. You would never hit anyone like that, and you're sacrificing speed and power if you attempt to hit someone at the awkward angle this ring would require to work. Save your money and don’t buy this.

The Tiger Lady Claw for
The Tiger Lady Claw will NOT turn you into Wolverine.

Tiger Lady Claw - These are “claws” that pop out when you squeeze the product in your fists. They’re intended to be used to scratch the attacker and have little bowls inside the claws that hang onto any DNA samples gathered while defending yourself. The issue I have with these is that your only real option with these is to scratch - that’s it. Scratching will absolutely not stop someone who is determined to attack you. If anything, it will just anger them and make them more determined to harm you.

Stun Guns - Stun guns are a pretty common less-lethal alternative to many weapons, some even have flashlights on them. The flashlights are useful if you need to see in the dark but are rarely enough lumens to actually temporarily blind a potential attacker. The number one problem with stun guns is that they are actually rather ineffective as a self-defense tool. They hurt when on bare skin but for civilian models it takes up to four seconds of direct contact with a major muscle group to incapacitate - it’s nowhere near strong enough to stop someone who is committed to attacking you. On thick clothes it's barely noticeable. The sound is startling, but I wouldn’t count on that alone.

Furthermore, thanks to Hollywood many people think stun guns actually disable a person for a short period after it's been used on them. In reality, it only incapacitates a person while being used. If you are going to use one, you need to be close enough to use it, actually make contact with bare skin, then be able to run away immediately.

A final note to consider with any non-firearm weapon is legality. Laws vary between states, stun guns are illegal in some states and/or cities. They may also be banned in certain businesses or public areas. Check with your state and where you'll likely be carrying your weapon to make sure you don't get in trouble for having and using it. Stun guns are legal to own and carry in Ohio.

5. All You Need Is A Weapon

Unfortunately, it's not just a question of avoiding the gimmicky weapons and carrying an effective one. Having a weapon can be a useful tool in your arsenal for self-defense but it cannot be the only option you have. There are many considerations when deciding on carrying a weapon, and in choosing which one to carry.

First you have to take into account that it's unlikely you’ll have a weapon on you at all times. Whether it’s simply inconvenient to carry everywhere, illegal to carry into certain areas, or the simple “I just didn’t happen to have it on hand at that moment.”

Then you have to factor in ease of access - anything in your purse is too likely to get buried and when you are full of adrenaline it will be even harder to fumble around to grab a weapon. The easier it is to deploy and use, the better.

The worst thing you can do is to buy a weapon like a firearm and think that’s it. That’s all you needed to do. Even if you buy pepper/OC spray, you have to train to use the weapon and practice with it. (By the way, did you know pepper spray canisters can go bad?) Failure to train in using and retaining a lethal weapon is an excellent way to miss your target, get it taken away from you, and then promptly get killed with it. Training should also include a plan B for if you drop the weapon, cannot get to it, or get it taken away from you.

Most of all it’s important to remember not to over-rely on any particular weapon, to have backups, and to make sure you are mentally ready to use whichever item you choose.

If you are going to own a weapon getting proper training with it is absolutely crucial. Know the laws in your city and state, choose the right weapon for you, and then get as much training with it as you can to ensure you hit your target and not miss - or worse hit an innocent bystander. Just as important is training to ensure you don’t get your weapon taken away from you. Training should also help you learn to not be too weapon-focused. Too often people fixate and forget they have other tools at their disposal. You have to be able to adapt.

Buying a weapon for self-defense can be a valuable tool, but it requires practice and cannot be your only tool. Practicing awareness, avoidance, de-escalation skills, and open-hand skills are crucial pieces of self-defense that shouldn’t be forgotten.

6. You Can Learn From YouTube

Videos can be a great addition to training, however, there are a few issues that can come up as a result.

The first of which is many promise they are the only thing you need. A video can be a great addition to your training, but it’s just that - an addition. It's something to help you practice, but you still need a qualified instructor to help correct your form and ensure you are practicing the techniques correctly.

Secondly, anyone can make videos and share them or put them up online for sale. If you are going to use them as a part of your training make sure you are getting them from good, credible sources.

7. What You Wear Makes You A Target

One of the #1 most common myths that just won’t hurry up and die already is that what a woman wore caused her to become a target. This is statistically and demonstrably false. There are a number of things attackers do use to choose targets: Who looks like they won’t put up a fight? Who looks easy to overpower? Who won’t tell? Who is not paying attention? There is a whole process attackers use when choosing targets. It all boils down to who does the attacker think they can target with minimal risk to themselves.

8. Predators Look Different From “Normal” People

It’s easy to rationalize that criminals and predators aren’t like “normal” people. It’s difficult for many to understand what causes someone to attack another person and so our minds imagine them as looking obviously "other" to help distance ourselves from them. It helps that many mugshots of criminals often make them look crazy and disheveled.

But here’s the thing - most predators aren’t unlike the rest of us. A lot of them are actually charming. They look just like us and use various techniques to gain the trust of potential targets, get close, and then strike. They want your guard to be down to make it easier for them, so they won’t do anything obvious until the time is right.

Ted Bundy is a famous example - did he look like an obvious serial killer? Not really. Many called him handsome and charming - and author Ann Rule said he would have made a “perfect husband” and even said he was kind and empathetic. He graduated from college, volunteered for multiple political campaigns, worked phones at a suicide hotline crisis center, and eventually got married and had a child. He was pursuing a career in law and politics, while also moonlighting as a serial killer.

They look like an ordinary family, don't they? Except they are visiting Ted in jail.
Ted Bundy looked more like Don Draper than the Boogie Man.

I could list dozens more, but I think you get the idea.

And those mugshots? Don’t forget that those are taken after a fight with the police - of course they are going to look crazy after fighting to get away from the police.

9. Always Be Polite

This is not so much a myth, as it is something we are commonly taught. It's also the one that brings me the greatest amount of personal frustration. As women most of us are raised to be polite - often excessively and to our own detriment. It’s better to be too polite and walked on than to be called “controlling” or worse “a bitch.” Being polite often gets extended to complete strangers who ask for your time, attention, or assistance, even if your gut intuition is telling you something isn’t quite right.

If your gut is telling you something is wrong, listen to it. I could write an essay on the topic of politeness alone but, suffice to say, it’s much better to risk coming off as rude and apologizing for it later than to be nice and be taken advantage of at best or murdered at worst. Please, always listen to your gut and don't worry what others might say or think of you as a result. If your gut says something's not right, get out of the situation immediately.

These are just some women's self-defense myths

This is not a comprehensive list of women's self-defense myths, but hopefully it has been helpful in dispelling some common misconceptions. What are some myths you have heard?

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The Five Types of Martial Art

Boxing and Types of Martial Art at the Wik Academy of Martial Arts Cincinnati Ohio

Trying to choose a martial art to train in when you're just starting out can be daunting. Just here in the Cincinnati area there are so many to choose from with such a wide variety of backgrounds, structures, and goals - how can you know which is right for you?

One thing that can help you make an informed decision is knowing the five basic types of martial art. Once you understand those and where different arts fit in, you can decide what classes to take or arts to study based on your own goals.

What Are the Five Types / Categories of Martial Art?

While there are a lot of different ways to categorize and group different martial arts, we're going to look at the five groups you can use to sort different arts by focus. Those five categories are:

  • Traditional

  • Restorative

  • Eclectic / Hybrid

  • Sportive

  • Combative

These categories aren't in any way exclusive, and many arts span several with one being the primary category but with elements of others. Each category also exists on a gradient, and different schools or instructors within the same art might emphasize different categories more. Rather than divide things up by striking art vs. grappling art vs. weapon art or criteria like that, these categories sort the different martial arts out by their goal or focus.

Let's look at what each one means and give some examples.

Traditional Martial Arts

Traditional martial arts put a heavy emphasis on passing down the traditions or culture of the art and its place of origin.

These arts often have a number of etiquette and cultural rules, use a lot terminology from the primary language of the art's place of origin, and involve a sense of ceremony. Due to having to learn and adhere to new rules of behavior - such as when and how to bow, how to address instructors and students of varying rank, how to sit or stand at attention, etc. - Traditional arts often wind up incorporating a lot of discipline and character building aspects.

These tend to be good arts for people who want to experience new cultural traditions, experience a strong sense of community, be introduced to new philosophical concepts, or improve their discipline. They also tend to be good for younger children because of the emphasis on rules and proper behavior.

Some examples of arts that are often categorized as Traditional martial arts are: Shorin-Ryu Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Hung Gar, Capoeira, Aikido, Wing Chun, & Kendo

Restorative Martial Arts

The next category, Restorative martial arts, are arts whose primary goal is to improve the health of the practitioner above all else. This includes both physical and mental health, and arts in this category may work on improving strength, mental focus, flexibility, breathing, cardiovascular health, and more.

Many of these have a meditative aspect to them, although that's not necessarily required. They also range in how strenuous they might be, with Tai Chi being an example that usually falls on the more gentle end and fitness kickboxing being an example that nearly always falls on the higher intensity end. Regardless all of these arts are concerned first and foremost with making you a healthier person rather than preparing you for a competition or giving you the tools to destroy an enemy.

Restorative martial arts are great for people who care most about getting healthy. If the thing you want most out of your training is to learn to focus, calm your mind, or improve your overall wellness, then arts which fall primarily in this category will be a perfect fit.

Some examples of arts that are often categorized as Restorative martial arts are: Tai Chi / Taijiquan, Some Forms of Silat, Fitness Kickboxing, Baguazhang, Aikido, & Capoeira

Eclectic or Hybrid Martial Arts

The third category, Eclectic martial arts or sometimes called Hybrid martial arts, are martial arts that make it a main focus to take elements from a wide range of other arts and incorporate them into a unified system.

Arts in this category tend to have strong secondary categories that inform the types of things they adopt from other arts. What sets arts aside that can be called a primarily Eclectic martial art over one of the other categories is the emphasis on changing, testing, and openness to the incorporation of new ideas.

Eclectic or Hybrid martial arts generally make a great fit for people who want to get exposure to a variety of training methods and styles. If you prefer the idea of testing, changing, and improving over the idea of continuing a long unchanging tradition, then martial arts in the Eclectic category will be a good fit.

Some examples of arts that are often categorized as Eclectic or Hybrid martial arts are: Jeet Kune Do, MMA / Mixed Martial Arts, Kajukenbo, Hapkido, Krav Maga, Pencak Silat Mande Muda, & SPEAR

Sportive Martial Arts

The Sportive martial arts category encompasses all of the arts whose foremost goal is training a student to win in a competition.

Sportive martial arts often, but not always, have a smaller range of individual techniques to learn and instead spend more time drilling specific aspects, simulating competition events through things like sparring, and improving the physical attributes that will most benefit an athlete in that sport. There may also be more strategic learning like analyzing other competitors or figuring out how to utilize competition rules to your advantage.

People who want to compete - whether in actual tournaments or just unofficially with other students - will fit best in one of the Sportive martial arts. If you have a strong desire to test yourself and use your martial art against someone the Sportive arts are often the best option to do so.

Some examples of arts that are often categorized as Sportive martial arts are: Boxing, ITF Tae Kwon Do, MMA / Mixed Martial Arts, Wrestling, Muay Thai, Fencing, Brazilian Jiujitsu, & Savate

Combative Martial Arts

The final category is that of Combative martial arts. What places a martial art in this category is a primary focus on dealing with a sudden, violent, potentially fatal attack - often though not exclusively as part of your career or position.

What sets Combative martial arts apart from the 'combat sports' styles of Sportive martial arts is the lack of an agreed upon location, rules, or initiation of combat. In a Sportive martial art such as MMA both combatants know what rules they and the other combatant must operate under, they know where the encounter will take place and what type of terrain to expect (generally a flat, well-lit, clean ring with clear boundaries), and they know the encounter has begun because its start is designated by a bell, referee, or other indicator.

Combative martial arts lack all three of these. There are no limitations on what can be done, you don't know where the encounter will happen or the conditions of the location, and the start of the encounter might be getting a knife placed at your throat or getting hit in the back of the head with a bat. These arts often train students ways to kill or maim, and often incorporate or even focus on some type of weapons training.

It's important here to make the distinction between self-defense and fighting. Self-defense is when a person is attacked with no means for escape or deescalation. A fight is the opportunity to leave or deescalate is present but a person makes the decision not to take it.

Two men arguing in a bar who square up and come to blows are in a fight, because one of them could have chosen to walk away, and this situation actually more closely resembles what Sportive martial arts prepares people for. A man coming up behind you with a knife while you're at an ATM and telling you to get into his van is in a self-defense situation, and this more closely resembles what Combative martial arts train for.

Combative martial arts are an excellent fit for people who work in dangerous professions - such as law enforcement or military personnel - or for those whose primary concern is being assaulted by someone with the intent of murdering, raping, or kidnapping them or a loved one.

Some examples of arts that are often categorized as Combative martial arts are: Krav Maga, Pekiti Tirsia Kali (as well as other Arnis / Escrima systems), MCMAP, Silek Harimau Minangkabau, & SPEAR

Final Considerations on the Five Martial Art Categories

These categories should be considered as general guidelines as there is always going to be a lot of overlap and variance between instructors. There are also some that overlap more commonly than others. For example, Eclectic tend to overlap with Combative and, to a lesser extent, Sportive arts but very rarely with Traditional or Restorative arts. Similarly Restorative and Traditional martial arts can often be found with a lot of overlap, but rarely do Restorative martial arts coincide with Sportive or Combative arts.

There can also be a range of different areas of focus with an art depending on the instructor. Some Muay Thai instructors for instance may focus more on the cultural heritage and traditions of the art and be less concerned with prepping students to compete placing it more in the Traditional art category. Other Muay Thai instructors may work more with athletes or MMA fighters to perform better in competitions and downplay traditional elements like the Wai Kru or other Thai customs removing the Traditional art elements entirely.

As another example the Jeet Kune Do classes at our Academy here in West Chester are structured in a way that places it solidly in the Eclectic category (we make a point of including elements from a variety of arts and helping students what works best for them). However, we teach with a very strong secondary element as a Combative martial art since we include many elements from Krav Maga, Kali, forms of Silat, and other primarily Combative arts and we approach our training through the lens of an unexpected violent assault.

Other JKD instructors may emphasize different training goals, such as training with MMA fighters to improve their performance, or passing on the philosophies and traditions of Bruce Lee. None of these approaches is inherently better or worse than the others, but it makes it important to know where each instructor or school fits in relative to your goals when you're choosing an art and where to train.

When you understand these categories relative to your goals, and how different arts can fit into them, it makes choosing a martial art to study a much easier process.

If you're interested in learning more about the arts we teach, you can reach us via the contact page or find the next class on our schedule and come visit.

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