Self-defence is often taken for granted and regarded as a sport. These violations usually come when we are distracted such as during travels. Yoshinkan Aikido Malaysia annual self-defence workshop teaches a few moves of protection.
Avoidance is the best form of self-defence. But that’s just a general rule. What happens when the inevitable happens? And there’s no chance to whip out the pepper spray, kubotan (the pocket stick), the compact ‘McGyver’ penknife or even to press the emergency dial on your mobile?
“Die!” You tell yourself. Let’s just pause for a moment and wiki into this serious matter; “… countermeasure that involves defending the health and well-being of oneself from harm.”
“Self-defence is about survival,” Aikido exponent, Malaysia chief instructor 7th Dan Black Belt Sonny Loke defines it succinctly. “It is about getting away from a hazardous situation and having to apply a physical technique should be of the last resort.”
At the numerous self-defence workshops that he has conducted for staff of corporations and individuals, Sonny and his team have designed an easy to remember 3 steps as self-defence moves: ‘Distract’, ‘Disengage’ and ‘Depart’.
He however cautioned that “these responses to an attack should happen within few seconds, anything longer than that, there would eliminate the element of surprise to the attacker.”
The first lesson at the workshop was participants to be alert and avoid being a target for professionals. He cited a few situations where travellers put themselves in vulnerable positions.
- Over-shopped with expensive branded stuffs in eye-catching designers shopping bags. Too busy with carrying shopping bags with no freehand to do anything else let alone protect themselves. Or pay attention to your purse.
- Being oblivious on your surroundings coming away from a money changer or ATM, and placing the whole stack of money in one place.
- Over-trusting other diners in restaurant by placing your belongings carelessly while dining.
- Busy talking on the phone or looking down while texting in a crowded place.
Your preliminary move to keep personal safety in check is a good posture. “It is a manifestation of a person’s mental state. Always maintain head up, neck straight and chest up.
“Profile your surroundings especially in public transport and where we dine too. Think ahead of scenarios and it helps to be a bit paranoid to keep us alert and not being careless.”
In Yoshinkan Aikido Malaysia, participants are taught 4 simplified routine moves that cover moving forward to both sides of the attacker, opening body sideways to receive the attacker and stepping back.
These 4 movements allow the body to be positioned at angles close but away from direction of the attacker and allow the victim to execute effective self-defence techniques.
“The first thing that Aikido teaches is never to go head on, instead we avoid the attack by getting off the line of attack. Allow the attacker’s force to project forward thus unbalancing the attacker. We then neutralize the situation by a lock, pin or throw on the attacker,” Sonny explains.
Even though the moves taught at the workshop seem simple enough but it needs practice to allow the participants to execute on reflex when the situation arise. And this would mean repetitive execution of the techniques.
“As in all martial arts, to be able to master and applies what you have learned in unavoidable situations requires years of dedicated training. Aikido is no exception. Finally, adding to a traveler’s ‘Dos and Don’t’s’ list, he said: “Trust your intuition.”
Text by YY Chen
Photos by Yoshinkan Aikido Malaysia