I’ve picked up an interest in martial arts over the last year or so. This interest has lead me to start studying two arts (one being judo and the other being too rare to mention without giving away exactly where I study). Of the two judo would probably be considered the practical art by most of my readers since it can be applied in self-defense (although, honestly, my primary interests in judo are sport and physical fitness). Whenever martial arts enter the self-defense discussion in shooting communities there are one or two people who have to say some variation on “I carry a gun. Why would I waste my time with martial arts?” I’m fairly certain that the people who say this are just disinterested in studying martial arts and feel as though they need to justify that disinterest in practical terms. They don’t, which is perfectly fine. Nobody should be ashamed to admit disinterest in something. But trying to justify your disinterest by giving a practical sounding, albeit bullshit, reasons is stupid.
And I do believe the guns-exist-so-martial-arts-are-stupid justification is bullshit. The argument makes the assumption that firearms, which are arguably the best weapons an individual can reasonably carry, can solve any and all self-defense scenarios. That’s not the case. Just as there are many self-defense scenarios there are many solutions. Martial arts, as they relate to self-defense, are like pepper spray, Tasers, and batons in that they give you more options. The more options you have available to you the more scenarios you can find solutions for.
It’s story time. Not too long ago I was at a party. As one would expect this party involved a lot of drinking. I refrained from imbibing as I was a designated driver but there was a good number of drunk people present. One of the drunk people strongly disagreed with something I said and decided the best way to resolve our disagreement was with force. He took a swing at me and I was able to block the blow, get his arm behind his back and place a majority of his weight on one foot, and slip that foot out from under him so that I could gently lower him to the ground. Take note of the word “gently”. This was one of those situations where I felt minimizing the amount of force used was important. Everybody at the party was socially connected to one another through no more than two degrees of separation. In such an environment pulling a gun on a fellow party goer would have caused everybody else there to hate me (and it would have been way more force than the situation warranted). With absolutely trivial martial arts knowledge I was able to resolve the situation in a way that didn’t cause too much of a ruckus.
Carrying a gun gives you an option to deal with specific self-defense cases but they don’t work for every self-defense case. There are a lot of places that prohibition firearms. Many self-defense situations don’t warrant deadly force. Social settings can greatly limit your responses. The more options you have available to you the more scenarios you can resolve satisfactorily. It’s impossible for any individual to have a tool for every potential self-defense situation so you must decided what situations you are most likely to face (risk assessment) and plan accordingly. As I said in the beginning of this post, my interests in judo are primarily sport and fitness, but it also gives me an option for a class of self-defense scenarios that I feel are common (which is a relative term because self-defense situations in general are very uncommon for most of us): somebody engages you in a way unlikely to cause great bodily harm or death but needs to be countered to prevent injury. It’s a situation that a gun is ill suited for and is a counterargument, in my opinion, to the claim that one doesn’t need [non-gun self-defense opinion] because he or she carries a gun.