At the end of this month, my time as a consulting engineer working in the building industry is coming to a close.

I want to remind you first of my over-arching disclaimer to all of my discussions about self-defence. The goal of self-defence is to make yourself and those around you safe. If you can accomplish that without physical intervention, then this is always the better option. I do not recommend fighting unless there is no other option, due to the inherent risks.

Over the years that we have run our martial arts centre here in Australia, we’ve had inquiries from various people who have expressed concern about whether they were actually too old to do Kung Fu.

Well… You got me started. I’m 44 years old this year. Am I also too old to do Kung Fu? I suppose that you might think that I’ve been doing Kung Fu since my pre-conception years? Maybe you think that I popped out and karate-chopped my own umbilical in half just before fly-kicking my doctor in the face for slapping my bottom?

​I wanted to call this article: “Is an unarmed, trained martial arts master/combat professional/self-defence expert as lethal as an average person with a knife?”, but this is a rather long and ponderous title and is a bit too click-baitey for my liking. For most people wanting to get into martial arts or combat training or who have perhaps had a few years of training under their belts, it is a question which does occupy some thought. “Will I be more lethal than the criminal with the knife who corners me in a dark alleyway at night?”  

The hero of the story suddenly stops in his tracks. He lowers his fully-automatic rifle, his usually stoic emotionless face creases with momentary concern. “Hang on… I’ve got a bad feeling about this…”

This is usually the point in the movie when the big badass boss monster makes its appearance for the epic final battle just before end credits role and we start to pick our way through popcorn-strewn aisles on our way to our cars, wondering whether we’ve been ripped off.

Is this a Hollywood trope or is this a real human phenomenon? Is there such a thing as a sense of impending danger? A sense that ‘Something is not quite right…’. A gut feeling? Bush-Sense?

There were two news stories which caught my attention this morning. I thought I’d share them with you.

The first story was regarding a pair of hikers in Cape Town, South Africa. A middle-aged married couple, who were walking in the Table Mountain National Park a few days ago. They were approached by a man dressed in the uniform of a Table Mountain Ranger. The man attacked the couple, fatally stabbing the 56-year-old man but his wife managed to escape.

When I first started studying and training Kung Fu, my very good friends didn’t miss the opportunity to make sure that a certain song got played at parties more often than not and also made certain that I knew that I was expected to put on a dance performance. The best bunch of blokes you would ever have wanted to raise hell with. Thanks guys. You know who you are. We won’t mention any names, will we? But those were cool times and I certainly didn’t mind. I am a terrible dancer but when I do dance, I dance with substance and conviction!  

There are some hilarious videos on Youtube which capture people trying to do physical training in weird and wonderful ways. These videos are often entitled “Gym Fail” videos. My favourite is the bloke on the cable pulley machine doing powered jumps using the falling weight stack to catapult himself into the air. He really looks like he is enjoying himself immensely. While I agree that most of these videos showcase people who are ignorant of gym etiquette or physical training theory, it does lead to some interesting questions: Who decides when someone is performing an exercise incorrectly and why are we so quick to judge people who do unconventional forms of physical training?

When we talk about training for self-defence or combat, we often talk about cross-training because of the unpredictable nature of the event that we are training for. Cross-training basically amounts to training in other disciplines to compliment your performance in your chosen discipline. Cross-training assists in this way by exposing athletes to new and varied challenges which may help them break new ground in their chosen discipline and reduce plateauing or stagnation.

​Some typical examples of the application of cross-training includes runners who train with free weights to increase their muscular strength to help with hill-climbing and weightlifters and boxers who train pure cardio to lose weight before an event. To pre-empt the remainder of my article, I would ask you whether you think that a runner who trains free weights would be able to compete on a professional level in a weightlifting competition or whether a weightlifter would be able to compete professionally in a marathon?

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been going through some of our old stuff and throwing the bitter-sweet trappings of history away. I think it must be the season. It’s a time for reflection on the past and saying farewell. It’s a time for acknowledging the present and expressing gratitude. It’s a time for thinking about the future and plotting a course by the dim light of the Southern Cross.