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Self-Defence vs Martial Arts?

By Warren HO

Is self-defence and martial arts training the same?

This a very controversial question that has sparked many debates, both in the past and currently. However, in my humble opinion and experience, the answer is both "YES" and "NO".

"YES" because I have seen some schools of martial arts who practise with the ferocity of a samurai warrior in the heat of a battle, where heads and limbs would be sliced off like a hot knife through butter! These schools might also teach the student about the mindset and attitude one would require to be able to actually carry out such a brutal onslaught.

Where martial arts may sometimes fail (which is the "NO" part of the question) is when it fails to give context and relevance for a modern day situation.

I have often said to my Kendo students that Kendo is an amazing, dynamic martial art that was derived from the battlefields of the samurai, however, it is practically of no use in an actual self-defence situation. The reality is, no one walks around with a sword for protection, nor do any of us (hopefully) walk around dressed in full battle gear! If someone does do that, they should seriously consider seeking a mental health specialist - there are far worse enemies within ourselves than there are lurking out there.

Furthermore, our modern day criminals have become a lot more "street-savvy", through technology and their "tools of the trade". Their methods have become more sophisticated and dare I say, even "barbarically sophisticated" (think home invasions and the torture stories you hear of).

The reality is that our world has reached a point where the traditional martial arts have become irrelevant.

This is where self-defence training comes in.

Self-defence training should be something that is relevant for the modern crimes we face. It needs to be both dynamic and effective in its approach, execution and the inevitable consequences.

Yes, there will be parts that are derived from the martial arts. but there will also be parts derived from other bodies of knowledge.

On 2 October 2021, I will be conducting a special self-defence session for the members of the RKC. This is free for them, but is open to the public at a small fee. Please come join us if you feel this blog resonates with you.

Registration and payment details can all be found here:

For more information on what I do and who I am, please visit:

Yours sincerely

Warren HO

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