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Catholic Self Defense


Note: I wrote this essay regarding the development of Tekkenryu jujutsu. However, I think it is applicable for all methods of self defense. It may also explain why martial arts are the way they are.

Catholic, by definition, means universal or "broad minded".

I could pull out STACKS of manuals, syllabuses, films, and related research material that cover an ENTIRE range of unarmed combat.

Some methods advocate wrestling as their base, others use boxing or savate. Some jujutsu and judo while others call their systems "rough and tumble" or "all in", and there is even a system based on American SPORTS. I have an old manual on YOGA for self defense. The material ranges from current to OLD, some very old.

These varied systems have everything! Striking and kicking methods drawn from EVERY method and "nationality", GRAPPLING methods from Lutte to Judo, from Sambo to All-In Wrestling. They range from standing to the ground; all aspects, all methods.

The guys in our crew have trained in an impressive array of systems and methods. They have a fantastic "pool" of knowledge, SKILL, and TRAINING to draw from.

OKAY, so WHAT?See if this makes sense............

Damian, Clint, and I worked out a comprehensive syllabus of instruction. It is based on a catholic approach to combatives. We drew these methods from a number of varied sources and training. The problem as we saw it was in the PROGRESSION of instruction. Here's how we attempted to solve this fundamental problem:

Very few individuals will start so-called "martial arts" instruction or training and stay with it for any real length of time. Many combative skills are JUST that, SKILLS! They require dedicated time and training to inculcate to the extent that they will be "useful" in a REAL fight or even in a controlled "free sparring" environment.

Japanese Judoka have a saying - "One year for Newaza, TEN years for Tachiwaza". In other words, proficiency in groundwork can be gained in a year, standing techniques require ten. So, here we see an acknowledgement that "different" SKILLS require varied amounts of TIME, TRAINING, and DEDICATION.

So that was our problem. MOST people will simply NOT invest the time and effort to "master" MANY of the skills involved. MOST people will "train" for a limited amount of time and then move on to the next "thing" that catches their interest.

What then is OUR responsibility as "instructors"? What we did is set a curriculum that takes this into account. The syllabus, for the first three to six months, includes NOTHING but the most BASIC, easily UNDERSTOOD, SIMPLEST METHODS of EFFECTIVE PERSONAL PROTECTION. Someone can train for a limited time AND still get something USEFUL in terms of "SKILL".What was our basis on selection of "method"?

"Hence the reason for a simple type of instruction with a great deal of emphasis on the FEW elementary methods which can be easily and instinctively used in combat after practice?..basis of selection was the theory of what the smallest man can do to the largest."

I'm quoting Applegate from the 1943 edition of Kill Or Get Killed (This DOES NOT, I hope, portray me as a zealot).

Continued training and "dedication" will result in learning more and more "complex" skills. However, if an individual ceases practice after a "limited" amount of time, we feel that we have at LEAST given something of VALUE in terms of personal survival.

Damian is a highly skilled grappler in any venue, i.e., wrestling, judo, and submission. Clint is a walking encyclopedia of "waza"; Ralph is amazing in his knowledge of close combat and weapons. Each of these men could teach to a high level of SKILL and COMPLEXITY with NO PROBLEM. However, they fully understand that you must "walk before you run". So, they are strong advocates of BASICS. First!

Judokas (like any other combative athletes) have a term called "Tokuiwaza" or "favored" technique. It is that one method that it is worked on incessantly, continually for YEARS in search of "perfection". Whether it be "Judo" Kimura, Gerry Cooney, "Strangler" Lewis, or Georges Carpentier, this approach holds true. So, realistically, does this apply to MOST PEOPLE? NO. That's why "champions" are revered. They are the EXCEPTIONS.

Why would anyone "teach" a middle aged businessman or a small petite housewife a technique or method that requires complex skills developed over YEARS and that requires a "set" of physical adjuncts in order to be even somewhat effective?Well, you wouldn't, at least NOT initially. Like building a house, you start with a SOLID foundation, and then BUILD from there. So the simplest approach in regards to personal protection is to start with techniques based on what the "smallest can do to the largest". Is that a guarantee of SUCCESS? NO, that's not how life works. Is it a LOGICAL place to "start"? I believe so.

Damian, Clint or I could teach DOZENS of different chokeholds and strangleholds. Ralph could teach DOZENS of highly complex drills and methods of stick and knife work. DOZENS! So what! Without the time, training and dedication to master these techniques they are WORSE than useless. The same goes for any "class" of techniques. Training and the DEVELOPMENT of skill is what makes ANYTHING "WORK".

So ALL we advocate is that simple common sense basic approach. Start with the SIMPLEST methods and build from there.

It has NOTHING to do with "blind" allegiance to any one method or man. It has NOTHING to do with being a "zealot". It has NOTHING to do with following any "gospel" in ignorance.

It has EVERYTHING to do with a sincere dedication to seeking the best, most rational and logical "solutions" to the multitude of complex problems inherent in real world survival.

This is why on going, dedicated research is SO CRUCIAL. Some question that "validity" of certain methods. DO NOT assume that these "questions" have NOT been asked and answered by others. Only a fool would blindly follow any "doctrine" without questioning and validating the information presented.

Can a skilled grappler apply his craft? Of course. Could a skilled boxer or muay thai fighter ply his trade with success? Of course. That's NOT the question. The question is "what can YOU do?" What one can do at twenty is different than what one can do at fifty. What one can do after several years of training is different than what one can do after several months of training. What one can do against an opponent of equal strength and weight is different than what one can do against a much larger, stronger adversary, or for that matter, a much smaller, lighter one.

So what's the point to all of this? Simple. Know who you are. What YOU are capable of. What YOUR abilities are. YOUR strengths, YOUR weaknesses, YOUR goals. Take a hard long realistic appraisal and find the answer to that question.

And then work from there.

Copyright 2003 www.thetruthaboutselfdefense.com ©

Carl Cestari began his study of the martial arts with judo at the age of 7 under the direction of Yoshisada Yonezuka. During the past forty plus years Carl has dedicated his life to studying the martial arts, hand to hand combat systems, history and religion. He is continually improving himself through his studies. What makes Carl unique is his combination of martial arts, law enforcement, military and real world experience. Carl has been exposed to a multitude of people with a wide variety experience. The following is a list of some of Carl's ranks and honors.

Shinan (Founder) Tekkenryu jujutsu

Ryokudan (6th degree) Koshinkai Karate under John Burrelle

Godan (5th degree) Jujutsu under Clarke of the World Jujutsu Fedaration (now defunct)

Sandan (3rd degree) Nippon Kempo under Narabu Sada

Nidan (2nd degree) Judo under Masafumi Suzuki

Shodan (1st degree) Judo under Yoshisada Yonezuka

Shodan (1st degree) Shukokai Karate under Kimura, Kadachi and Yonezuka

Shodan (1st degree) Daitoryu Aikijujutsu

Instructors Certificate- Charles Nelson System of Self Defense under Charlie Nelson


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