A martial art is a method of hand-to-hand combat used to defend oneself against an attacker, or to attack an attacker or potential attacker. That is the bottom line! You may think your martial art is a sport, that it is a fitness requiem, or that it is an enjoyable hobby, but if it will not stop an attacker intent on seriously injuring or killing you, then that is all it is.
First, let us assume you are assaulted by someone. Legally, an assault is the threat to do harm with a clear and present ability to carry out the threat, coupled with an overt action toward carrying out the threat. For example, if I say am going to punch your lights out; that is a threat. You cannot physically attack someone for making a threat. If I cock my fist in preparation for the punch, whether or not I actually throw the punch, I have then made the overt action. Can you now kick my butt? Not yet! You still cannot legally attack me in self-defense. I must also have the clear and present ability to carry out the threat. For example, if I am confined to a wheelchair and cannot possible reach you with a punch, then I have not committed an assault. You cannot legally defend yourself against an attack that cannot possibly occur.
Now let us move on to a battery, as in assault and battery. A battery is purposefully touching with intent to do harm, or in a way that may reasonably be assumed would cause harm, however slight the harm. For example, if I tap you on the shoulder while we are standing in a theater waiting line to ask you for the time, I did not commit a battery, and you have no legal reason to attack me in self-defense, no matter how much you may detest being touched by someone. For another example, suppose I was holding a cup of very hot coffee and you accidentally stepped on my toes and it instantly angered me so much that I threw the cup of coffee in your face. Now I have committed a battery. I may not have intended to do you harm, but anyone would reasonably assume that I should have known that the hot coffee would do you harm. After you stop screaming and jumping around, if you feel I am still a threat, you have the right to defend yourself against me I f necessary, but not to merely attack me in retaliation. In a final example, if, instead of tossing the coffee on you, I deliberately punched you on your shoulder, then that would be a clear battery and you could legally take appropriate action.
That pretty much covers simple assaults and batteries. These assaults do not require a lot of self-defense skill or martial art training. You just need to be assertive and take control of the situation. Simple avoidance moves, releases, or locks will work since the person is not intent on harming you. When you are not in fear of your life, you can afford to be magnanimous, but, when in fear of your life, you have to be ruthless.
Let us move on the aggravated assaults and assaults with a deadly weapon. These are assaults in which the attacker is intent on seriously injuring or killing you—now we are getting serious!
First, let me ask you this question. I someone were trying to kill you, what you do to stop it? Notice I said “stop it” not “try to stop it” for, for if you do not stop it—you will be dead. Would you try to slip by the attacks as taught in the avoidance arts? Would you “shoot” for the legs and try for a submission hold as taught in the mixed martial arts? Would you try for a wristlock, dance around as a drunken monkey would, or try using pressure point strikes? All this stuff may be fun and work great in class or in tournaments, but when someone is trying to kill you, are you willing to rely upon it to save your life?
What does a small child do when he or she is grabbed or is angry? The child punches and kicks. That is what humans naturally do and we do it well. No matter your martial art, it someone is trying to kill you, you had better punch and kick the crap out of the attacker, or you will not survive.
We all have demands on our time: family, relatives, friends, work, home maintenance, eating, sleeping, and, hopefully, some play time. How much free time do you have to spend on training in your martial art? You probably do not have a lot of time, so how much of that time do you want to use trying to perfect some lock, takedown, pattern, or sparring technique? Your time would be much better spent practicing your punching and kicking, mainly your punching. It may be boring, and it may not look as cool, but it will save your life when you need it.
This is not facing a trained opponent in a ring with rules, corner help, a referee, and medical personnel present while facing an opponent who does not want to kill you and does not want to be killed. This is facing a person whose only purpose in life at the time is to kill you in any way possible. This person is not concerned with his or her personal safety, knows no rules, has no compassion, and, many times, does not really care if he or she dies while killing you. When you facing this type of attacker, will your martial art training enable you to survive?
After you have the physical skills, and the mental and emotional ability, to punch and kick to death an attacker who is intent on killing you, then you may practice any other martial art techniques until you become a master.