How Dojo Etiquette Can Sharpen Your Self Defense Skills

When you first visit a traditional martial arts dojo, it can seem a little otherworldly. People wearing strange clothes, saying some things in a foreign language, and what is up with all that bowing?

Some people accept it as just how things are done, but worse are those that won’t ask why those things are done.

In the modern day there are plenty of places that teach some kind of self defense system that is free of all the dojo etiquette trappings. So, what does traditional dojo etiquette (rei-ho in Japanese) have to do with improving my personal defense skills?

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Awareness Part 1: Redefining Awareness and the Color Code Model

Awareness.

Awareness is a buzzword in the personal defense community that is given a lot of mentions, but far too often accompanied with very little substance or understanding.

Wednesday morning tragedy struck Virginia as a murderer shot and killed Alison Parker and Adam Ward, as well as attempted to murder Vicki Gardner. On behalf of Magic City Dojo and myself, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your families.

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Alison Parker & Adam Ward

Soon after the initial news broke on social media, the murderer’s own self recorded point of view video taken on his cell phone of the attack surfaced. Then came the comments from martial artists and other personal defense experts…

“No awareness! That’s why situational awareness is so important! Complete lack of attention! No zanshin! Not aware of their surroundings! They’re oblivious! How could they not see that coming?!”

Many “experts” on self defense claim that you must maintain situational awareness at all times…and that’s the end of the sentence. First, what the fuck is “situational awareness” anyway? Second, I’d argue that maintaining that level of vigilance is not only not possible, it’s also unhealthy.

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Avondale Brewery Abduction, Fake Police Carjacking, & the Value of Suspicion

One of the most powerful learning models and coaching tools in personal defense is analyzing real world incidents. This cuts through all the theory and looks at objective evidence. Reality.

Let’s look at two real world incidents that happened recently here in Birmingham, one of which happened this very morning, and see what actionable intelligence you can gather to develop a very reliable tactic to survive if you are targeted for an attack.

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