China 2019 – Day 27, Tuesday, 13th August

Today has been my last day at the tai chi school and as ever you have mixed emotions about these things.

Sad that the training has come to an end, I will miss Masters Ping and Kim and many of the students…and of course there will be a glint in my eye when I give Hotpot a big hug goodbye tomorrow!

I will of course be happy to be returning to my loved ones (if you are part of the club and you have enjoyed the blogs, please say a thank you to Karina for proof reading and posting them all promptly – even when in Denmark in the middle of a family party!), and my cat – who will no doubt be in a mood because I have been away and will have some feline sense that I have made friends with a dog!

And of course returning to my classes and students, who I’m sure are all dying to experience some snippets of what I have been learning! 😀

However, airport closures in Hong Kong for the second day in a row are making me slightly concerned about a timely return without delays or being diverted via another airport.

The situation really doesn’t look good from either side and I don’t know the details too much to make an educated comment but it did make me think about conflict, self defence, and how we mostly live in peaceful times (occasional riots and protests aside).

We are very lucky to live in such times and it’s very much taken for granted – we’re still only a couple of generations away from a very different world.

So what’s the state of self defence these days – and how is it still relevant for most of us who probably will never see any conflict whatsoever?

I have spoken and written about this topic before but it’s one of my favourites, as well being vitally important, when it comes to martial arts training and its relevance in the modern world.

Of course learning self defence is important but admittedly it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. We also mostly don’t live in an age where marauders from neighbouring towns or countries are likely to invade, forcing us into hand to hand or weapons combat.

Relatively speaking, it’s very rare that people are attacked in the street these days – particularly if you are careful to avoid areas where the likelihood is higher (Avoidance – first rule of self defence!).

So for the majority, why bother learning something which at its core is an ancient martial art and system of self defence?

Our Worst Enemy?

We are all generally our own worst enemy – unhealthy diets, not enough exercise, smoking and drinking too much, not reducing stress, lack of sleep, too much time watching TV and on social media, not dealing with personal issues – the list goes on and on.

Tai chi (and when I say tai chi, I also mean most traditional martial arts) is incredibly effective as your first line of self defence – against yourself!

Taking up tai chi will make you more aware of what is going on in your own mind and body.

If you take notice of what you observe and learn from it, you will be more likely to live a life where you look after your body and don’t abuse it!

(I’m not saying don’t do things that you enjoy. I like a beer and a take away now and then like anyone else, but see them as a treat rather than the norm.)

Modern Lifestyles

Lifestyles are increasingly sedentary and no more than at the workplace. I can’t imagine this is going to improve unless you do something about it.

If you work in an office or have any sort of job that takes its toll on your body (most jobs probably do in one way or another!), having an outlet where you can balance your body, increase the strength and flexibility of your musculoskeletal system is absolutely crucial as is having an outlet for your mind.

I see so many people with bad shoulders, backs, and necks, as well as completely stressed – protect yourself with a healthy activity away from your 9-5!

Still on the workplace, we’re moving into an era where pensions are eroding and as much as we take healthcare for granted (in the UK) we live in uncertain times.

Looking after your body and mind will more likely see you live longer, you’re going to need to work longer in the future anyway – and there’s no better health insurance than being healthy!!

Modern life, pollution, disease – are rife almost everywhere but you can do a lot, a hell of a lot, to defend yourselves against these things. A healthy practice, such as tai chi, will help offset damage.

Take Charge

I personally think it’s the duty of every single person to be healthy, as healthy as they can be.

Do this for yourself first and foremost, as well as for your loved ones.

We all want to see our children grow up and be a part of their lives, to be active grandparents, and why not an active great grandparent!?

Ask yourself – with real brutal honesty – are you living a lifestyle now where you are stacking the odds in your favour to be active when you are in those later stages of life?

There are instances where you should still learn a martial art to defend yourself from other people.

I am not talking about marauders or muggers – but hands up who has had a boss who is/was a bully? Who has been in a relationship or friendship where they let themselves be bullied?

Gaining confidence from setting your self out to train and become healthy in mind and body will give you an inner strength and resilience to deal with people who want to walk all over you. Learning and becoming better and better at martial arts (as compared against yourself, not someone else) will give you a confidence that cannot be shaken – and this will show. How’s that for a self defence technique?!

The Bigger Picture

Training in martial arts – if it’s a good club – will give you a sense of being part of a greater community. In a world where we’re more and more isolated, we need this. We’ve evolved this way over hundreds of thousands of years. We are not isolated beings trapped in our phone screen. That is not how we thrive as a species.

Be the best you can be for your community, and society at large. We have so many issues that we need to unite together for. We won’t be able to if we are depressed, isolated and unhealthy.

In a world where governments and politicians are bought off by huge food and drug corporations, partly designed to make us fat, sick and drug dependent – it’s a revolutionary act to be healthy and take charge of your life.

We need to look after ourselves, our families, communities, and the wider world at large – it all starts with the individual and if we are not healthy, the future of our planet (or everyone on it) could literally be in danger.

I hate the sentiment, ‘it doesn’t matter, I won’t be here in X amount of years…’. Well, it’s a good job your great grandparents didn’t think that! It does matter.

The meaning of life is to get the most out of life, and to help others along their path in my opinion.You aren’t doing that to your utmost if you aren’t as healthy as you can be.

What’s Most Important?

How many people look after their car better than their own body?

Which vehicle do you think is the most important?

Is it the one that drives you to work and the shops, or the one you spend your entire existence in?

For all we know this will be the only time in the entirity of infinite time and space that the entity known as ‘you’ will ever be consciously aware of your own existence…and many people would spend more on repairing a hunk of metal on wheels! It blows my mind.

We have one chance at this, 9 or 10 decades at best…and you really want to spend more money on your car than the health of your body? Seriously?

Self Defence

So next time someone asks you if the martial art you do is good for self defence, there’s a very comprehensive answer you can give them.

Self defence is vital for everything. Self defence dictates the quality of your entire existence!

Martial arts really can have a profound effect.

What you start by waving your arms around in your local community centre or village hall can literally save you…and the world.

And if that’s not self defence, then I don’t know what is!?

3 thoughts on “Day 27 – Modern Day Self Defence

  1. Hi Mark, I’ve enjoyed reading your posts and viewing your photos over the last four weeks. I found them very inspirational. I admire your discipline in writing them each day in addition to your training, Mandarin lessons and touring the area. I wish you a safe and speedy trip home.

    1. Thank you Dane, I have really enjoyed writing them and glad you’ve enjoyed reading and seeing the photos. Hope your practice is going well!

  2. More thought-provoking writing Mark! I’m going to make sure I take the time to reflect some more on these blog entries. Thanks again for so generously sharing your experiences with us all.
    Hope all goes well for you re your journey home ( – it looks as though you did get to Hong Kong), and that you told Hotpot not to worry because you would be back……
    Safe travels Mark. We’ll look forward to seeing you at the weekend classes!

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