In the year 1949, George Orwell wrote the dystopian novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four”. Readers of his novel will be familiar with the type of overt control exerted by the Party and its various representatives. In the novel, individualism and independent thinking are persecuted as crimes known as “Thoughtcrimes” with obedience enforced by the “Thought Police”.

It sounds like a terrifying world but I am sometimes left thinking that we may be living the nightmare without even knowing it.
Let me explain.

Over the last few decades, which has seen the rise of social media, several new phenomena have arisen alongside these new social platforms. Phenomena like the Social Justice League, Radical Feminism, Political Correctness and the concept of Being Offended. Along with these phenomena, new expressions of social violence have evolved. Trolling, Online Bullying, Flaming etc. A wide variety of these new forms of social violence have been used to curb or control online expression and people who apparently challenge popular culture and social consciousness. These acts of violence range from ostracization to active hate campaigns and they have even been used successfully to attack very high-profile people. Even Nobel Laureates have been sacked from their jobs over social accusations.

I have spoken with people who are active police officers who joke about the fact that all their actions are open to criticism and judgement by the Court of Facebook. And of course, the policy makers and politicians bow to this social pressure whether right or wrong because politicians are generally interested in personal career advancement instead of national advancement.

We at the Chinese Martial Arts and Health Centre Australia have also not been free from the actions of self-proclaimed social enforcers. Let’s call them Thought Police for the sake of the article. The reason that we are vulnerable to criticism is because we teach people how to defend themselves in real life-or-death situations.

“Why would something that positive draw unwelcome attention from the Thought Police?” you might ask.

Well it’s quite simple, let me explain.

There are basically two types of self-defence training. Self-defence training that works, and self-defence training that doesn’t.

Self-defence training that doesn’t work can take any form that society finds culturally palatable. You could teach it to anyone without offending them. You don’t need to know anything about criminal psychology. You don’t have to learn how real fights evolve. You don’t even need to see what a real fight looks like. You don’t have to mess around with sharp objects or guns. You never have to face and overcome the tyranny of your own ego. You could learn it without any personal challenges and even without breaking a sweat. You can learn it in 5 easy lessons or you could even learn it online. This kind of self-defence training will never draw unwanted attention from the Thought Police and if it does, it will just reinvent itself to appease them.

The big underlying problem is that it doesn’t work

Obviously, what I am getting at here is that real self-defence training is not palatable to the Thought Police. It is not palatable because it involves developing a real and effective response to real blood-and-guts violence aimed at the student. The training involves physical, mental and social preparation for facing a life-or-death survival situation. The training is not always comfortable. It is not always Politically Correct because it involves training with knives and firearms and occasionally under harsh conditions to familiarise students with these kinds of threats. It involves a critical personal evaluation of ones strengths and weaknesses in order to best deploy oneself. There is no room in a real self-defence approach for flights of fancy like the concepts of equality or fair play. It also involves occasionally putting students into controlled personal crisis situations and observing and improving their reactions.

When I talk about self-defence situations, I am not talking about dominance fights between shirtless adolescent male trouble-makers in the streets, hooting and capering like gibbons in a zoo. I am not talking about football disagreements in the local pub. I’m not talking about boozy fisticuffs outside of disreputable night-clubs. I am talking about events that cannot be avoided which involve legitimate and concerted attempts to deprive you of your life, health or well-being. When I talk about self-defence situations, I am talking about situations in which you have to fight to ensure your survival. I am not talking about events that can be resolved with more peaceable means.

As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, self-defence situations are ugly. As you might expect from situations of this nature, a person struggling to survive a concerted and determined attempt on their life may be forced to do ugly things to protect themselves. Things like gouging eyes, biting ears, breaking bones and generally doing whatever they need to do in order to end the fight.

Yes, these things are not polite or Politically Correct and are very ugly. No sane person would take any joy in hurting another human being. But when an aggressor makes the decision to hurt or kill someone, the decision has been made whether the defender likes it or not. War has been declared. The defender has to subsequently make a choice between being a victim or reluctantly fighting for their very survival.

When I accept a student into my school and begin providing self-defence training for them, I accept a very serious responsibility as a teacher.

In essence, I am taking their lives into my hands. If I provide instruction that is sub-par or misleading, the possibility remains that the student may be involved in a self-defence situation in which they are either killed or severely injured. If that were to happen as a result of misleading or incomplete training provided by me, I would hold myself responsible for their misfortune. This is a terrible responsibility to bear and is another reason that we are so exclusive in the selection process for potential students.

Preparing an average person in the streets to face this kind of active challenge to their survival is not an easy task and it is often misunderstood by the public at large. We had the misfortune of being accused recently of instructing our students to watch videos of “Victims being stabbed.” Now, although we take our job as self-defence instructors very seriously, that does not make us vicious psychopaths who delight in wanton violence and wish for others to do the same.

Despite the defamatory and untrue nature of the allegation, I have to ask the practical question: what would be the value in watching victims being stabbed? How would that help our students to be better prepared to face a self-defence situation? Watching victims succumb to human predation would have little to no value for someone who is trying to develop a self-defence response.

No.

What we have advised our students to do is to watch videos of real self-defence situations and familiarise themselves with the realities of that level of threat.

Many of the people who come to us for instruction have never been involved in a real fight situation before and the shock of an event of this nature happening to one of these people can render them incapable of defending themselves. Familiarising themselves with the realities of self-defence can mitigate some of the shock that comes with the event and better prepare them to survive. To not be a victim.

It seems that the Thought Police believe that preparing people to face life-or-death situations is a distasteful occupation.

Of course, it would be better if we all pretended that we did not live in a dangerous world and that nothing bad ever happens here. Like a flock of sheep in idyllic, pastoral hills. This blinkered approach to life may be acceptable for the majority, but it is not acceptable for everyone. Within every flock of sheep, there is a certain, small percentage of furry mammals (literally 1%) that are not sheep and not wolves. They are sheep-dogs and their task is one of constant vigilance.

Watching out for the safety of the flock.

Without the sheep-dogs, the flock would be easy prey for the wolves that circle just out of sight in the bush or masquerade dressed in sheep’s clothing through the middle of the flock. It is only to be expected that the sheep would dislike the sheep-dogs because they have teeth and look and smell a bit like wolves but the sheep-dogs have a very important job to do. The wolves hate the sheepdogs too. It can be a frustrating existence, but they are driven by their primal mandate. Protect the flock.
My message to the Thought Police is that before they quickly judge people who think and act differently to what they consider to be culturally acceptable, perhaps they should think outside of their own personal, limited life and experience. There is a big, wide world out there and each of us is really only a tiny blip on the radar with a very limited perspective.

Real self-defence training is not politically correct nor can it ever be because it requires students to come to terms with the violence within the human soul and to develop controls and responses to this violence.

Written by SiFu Lester Walters, head of the Chinese Martial Arts and Health Centre Australia