Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Who is the Vector?

The author of a recent article in Blitz suggested that we should question our martial art. What are the right questions to ask?

I've drafted an article that assists in identifying the right questions to ask. Martial arts and self defence are designed to prevent or minimise injury from a violent encounter. Injury science studies injury with a view to preventing or controling injury. A tool that is used to analyse injury and brainstorm preventions that are designed to prevent and control injury is the Haddon Matrix. Rather than go through the matrix, I'll focus on one aspect of it here.

Injury science sees injury resulting from three interrelated factors: host, vector/vehicle, environment. The host is the person injured or at risk of injry, the vector is the animate organism and the vehicle the inanimate object that inflicts the injury, and the environment is the physical and social environment in which the injury event occurs. All three combine to produce an injury and all three provide intervention opportunities to prevent and control injury.

Learning martial arts or self defence is something the host (you) can do to prevent and control injuries resulting from an act of interpersonal violence. But the martial art or self defence you learn are highly dependent on the defintion of the vector.

Taking a quote from the end of Platton: 'I think now, looking back, we did not fight the enemy; we fought ourselves.'

Karate teaches defences against karate attacks. Boxing teaches defences against boxing attacks. Wing chun teaches defences against wing chun attacks. Even the mixed martials, which was originally designed to pit different martial arts against each other, evolved into a martial art of itself which is designed to defend against similiarly trained opponents.

The martial arts are generally designed to fight themselves.

Women's self defence (WSD). Most WSD courses are based on, explicitly or implicitly, a stranger attack, however, statistics show that the overwhelming majority of attacks on women, sexual or otherwise, are perpetrated by someone they know. Surely the strategies, tactics and techniques would differ depending on whether the attacker was a stranger or a familiar.

The author of the abovementioned Blitz article quite rightly suggested this is a major area of concern when developing or evaluation the self defence potentional of a martial art or self defence program.