Changing the Paradigm of a Self-Defence Instructor

Kids Martial Arts in Balbriggan - Elite Taekwondo Academy


 When Dave Hedges of Wild Geese Martial Arts and Fitness asked me to write a piece on the relationship between Martial Arts and Mental Health, I must admit to being at something of a loss as to what to put down. Yes, I know that rigorous physical training can lead to a feeling of well-being, that achievement in the Arts can grow ones Self-Esteem, that the confidence derived from having the ability to defend ones self in a physical altercation can develop a greater sense of calm.

However when I look at the statistics of the biggest killers in our society violent crime is a long way down the list behind such killers as diabetes, heart disease, and suicide. Tragically there are at least 10 times more people per year dying by their own hand than being murdered by someone else. With these facts at hand I, and anyone else purporting to teach “Self-Defence”, need to re-assess what our role as teachers of Self-Defence actually is. Are we genuinely giving our students a Self-Defence education that has a practical value in their lives or are we guilty of propagating some medieval martial arts navel gazing. Looking at the work Dave Hedges is doing with “The Mighty Mile”, I, rather embarrassingly, have to admit it’s the latter.

On October 7th Dave and colleagues from the Martial arts and Health and Fitness world will walk 4 laps of an athletic track, that’s 1 mile, all the while performing walking kettlebell swings. In this way Dave hopes to use the world of Physical Health to shine a light on Mental Health. All funds raised will be given to carefully selected Mental Health Charities and Services.

With his Mighty Mile project Dave is forcing a re-assessment of the role of a Self-Defence teacher in today's society. He is redefining the role and purpose of a modern Martial Arts teacher and addressing an area of Self-Defence training much more valuable in peoples everyday life than the ability to throw a punch (nothing wrong with that either mind). I would encourage everyone and particularly my martial arts colleagues to support The Mighty Mile financially by pledging at and in the days and weeks beyond educate yourselves as best they can on the issues and solutions around mental health challenges many of your students may be going through.

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