Karate & Kobudo for School Teachers
NO TEACHER SHOULD BE LEFT BEHIND! All teachers should have some training in traditional karate & kobudo! There has been a notable increase in teachers learning self-defense because of an increase in physical attacks, worldwide. We all should learn to use our God-given weapons (feet, hands, knees, elbows), and tools around us that can be quickly used as a weapon.
When I taught karate & other martial arts at the University of Wyoming; by far, the largest group of students taking martial arts were engineers: only a few joined from the Education Department. Yet Education was a large college & most martial arts classes were held in the Education Building Gym, while a few were in Corbett Gym.
Today, teachers are wary of dangers associated with out-of-control snowflake students & parents. Schools are gun-free zones where only criminals and mentally ill students and other politicians are armed. For any teacher, being proficient in self-defense provides self-confidence along with physical and mental well-being. But it is also important to learn a traditional form of self-defense at a martial arts school with an excellent reputation.
What would you do if a student walked into the room with a gun? How would you take it away? How would you defend against an irate parent who tries to punch you, kick you, threatens you with a knife, or even worse, reads you political propaganda? We teach our members to defend against these attacks (except the political propaganda - you're on your own on that one). Imagine how much more at peace you will be burning calories two to three nights a week while learning karate, self-defense & kobudo. Karate provides a foundation for personal self-defense and teaches how to react in stressful situations by rote, known to martial artists as mushin. We train in defenses against grabs, punches, kicks, chokes, takedowns, weapons (clubs, knives, guns, rifles, swords, etc), but at the same time we teach our students considerable martial arts history and philosophy so they get a rounded education. Kobudo (martial arts weapons) focuses on Okinawan peasant weapons & common everyday weapons, so you learn to use tools sitting in front of you - that book, magazine, stapler, keyboard, cell phone, pencil, pen, salt shaker, paperweight, coffee cup, computer disc, rock, towel, coins, belt, etc.
CNS news (6/10/2014) reported a record number of teachers had been physically assaulted in 2011-2012. The number of assaults were up 34.5% for a record 209,800 during the school year. On average, more than 1,100 teachers were attacked per school day! Reported physical assaults included striking, kicking, biting, slapping, stabbing and shooting (NEA). According to the American Psychological Association, 80% of teachers surveyed had been victimized and nearly half reported being harassed by obscene gestures, verbal threats & intimidation. CNS news (3/10/2011) indicated female teachers were more likely to be assaulted than males.
In Surprise, Arizona, a 12-year old smashed a computer keyboard against the head of a teacher and then kicked and punched the teacher until police arrived. In New Hampshire, an 8th grade teacher was body-slammed by a student. The Telegraph (9/2/2011) reported one-in-five teachers had been physically assaulted at school. These problems begin at home and are exacerbated by courts, administrators and parents who refuse to punish students.
We recommend any group of teachers interested in self-defense to set up a self defense clinic at a local martial arts school (but be sure the school has qualified instructors (search the internet by the instructor's name, school name, and martial arts association name). We provided self-defense training for a group of Chandler Librarians who were astonished to find they were surrounded by self-defense weapons. At another clinic, a group of girl scouts were asked to bring backpacks to the clinic and taught to use the contents for self-defense. A women's group of joggers from Gilbert and Mesa were trained at another clinic to use car keys, coins, knees, elbows and feet for self-defense.
KARATE & SELF-DEFENSE When in graduate school at the University of New Mexico I taught karate, igneous & metamorphic petrology (the study of igneous & metamorphic rocks) and mineralogy. I don’t remember being fearful walking around campus, other than possibly stepping on a rattlesnake.
Rattlesnake? Yikes! We lived in an apartment complex just off campus with a central grassy area surrounded by apartments. One day a neighbor noticed a rattlesnake on her porch and called the police. The responding officer drew his pistol and fired three shots which ricocheted off the concrete. Luckily, no one was killed (including the rattlesnake), so another neighbor handed the officer a kuwa (hoe) and the snake was quickly dispensed of. Here was an example of an ancient weapon that was superior to a modern weapon.
And there were instances at UNM when I was forced to use karate - few would have anticipated such attacks on a campus! The first occurred in a lecture hall where my advisor, Dr. Burt Kudo (a Japanese-American), was teaching Introduction to Geology. While returning mid-term exams, one irate student was visibly upset about his grade and started to complain loudly. Students tried to quiet him, but he stood up and approached Dr. Kudo and challenged him to a fight to the death!
After a heated discussion, the student called to a second, who walked into the lecture hall wearing a karate gi and faced Dr. Kudo indicating he would fight for the honor of his friend. Bert’s response, “No problem, I have a karate expert of my own”. This was my cue to run from west side of the lecture hall in my gi and attack Rusty Reese (who was another grad student). We fought our way out through the east exit. This was a unique way Dr. Kudo relieved stress of exams and why he had one of the more popular classes on campus. But get this, in the previous year, Kudo planned another skit using an irate student in which Burt drew out a gun and shot the student (with a blank). Imagine if someone did that today. All of the politically-correct crazy snowflakes would demand gun control, public flogging of Bert, and seek grief counsellors for the students. Boy, things have changed.
Another incident was a little more serious. I had just finished teaching karate at the UNM Student Union and was walking across campus with two of my students (Mike and Dave) when two thugs whom I had never seen before, purposely ran into me. I turned around and voiced my concern about their ancestry which apparently struck and nerve and they turned to attack - one to my left and the other to my right. It was dark, but campus lights provided enough light that I could see the person to my right had a knife in hand. The individual to my left moved first and I knew I had to quickly end his attack to defend against the other.
Before I tell you how this ended, I want to point out something. Karate on Okinawa was developed as a weapon, not sport, and those who trained in karate developed powerful strikes. We practice ‘hitotsuki hitogeri’ which essentially means “one-punch, one-kick knockout”, something that is not practiced in sport, but is the focus of traditional karate. If I had to slap the attacker a few dozen times as taught in tournament-oriented sport karate, I likely would have ended up in the ER with a knife stuck in my back. So this is why we emphasize power and focus.
Back to the story. The first attacker moved in. I noticed he took a stance that mimicked neko-ashi-dachi, a.k.a. cat stance. As I recall, time slowed giving me a chance to carry on a conversation in my head. Recognizing the stance I told myself “this attacker trained in karate”. But it didn’t matter because I was going to have to defend no matter what. The thug threw a right haymaker, followed by a right front kick and a left haymaker. My mind argued - “no self-respecting karate practitioner would throw a haymaker. So maybe this guy was not a karate practitioner after all”.
As he threw a right, I blocked hard with a left outward block - he flinched. I continued with a left downward block of his kick - again he flinched. As he was in the process of throwing the left, I hit him with three karate punches known as tsuki to the head. The technique worked so well, I added it to a kata: Meikyo so my students can use it in case they are attacked. Kata will also teach you to develop fast hands.
With three hard strikes to the head, the attacker was out on his feet, losing balance and tipping to his left - he tried to regain balance, then fell. At that point, the second attacker lost all spirit and instead of attacking, started moving towards his partner. I told him to stop or I would finish him. He indicated all he wanted to do was to help his friend. I demanded he drop the knife. He obliged and I stepped back so he could help his friend.
To this day, I have no idea why these two attacked me and I never saw them again. But it's an example of what can happen, whether you are a teacher or just walking in the park. You never know what crazy person(s) is going to attack or for what reason. So, if you are a school teacher - find a nearby traditional karate school and plan to spend a lot of time in the dojo.