A Gentleman Must Be….

To seek excellence in all endeavors is expected of a gentleman, martial and otherwise, seeking strength to be used in the service of justice, rather than in personal aggrandizement.

This portion of the code has a few facets and in this post I will talk about the; “martial and otherwise, seeking strength” portion of it. In the next post I will discuss the excellence and aggrandizement and justice portion.

You and your lady friend are out for the evening. As your walking back your car your accosted by a man coming out of a dark alley demands your wallet and your ladies jewelry. Do you know what to do next? Do you have the skills and training necessary to protect yourself and your lady  friend? Do you have the physical prowess to exert the necessary force?

It goes without saying that every gentleman should avoid violence because violence is uncivilized, but unfortunately in society now and in the past there are many who are vulgar and will use brutality as a ways to a means. This is why every gentleman is to do his utmost to seek excellence in a martial art and maintain a powerful physical condition. Does this mean you have to be a black belt in karate or a bodybuilder? Not really but you should be strong, physically fit and able to use self-defense to protect yourself and others around you. You may think, I will buy a gun instead, but can you always carry a gun? You cannot carry a gun into a ballet, the opera or theater. So you must be able protect yourself using your bare hands, your strength and your wit.

During victorian times, gentleman studied a Western European martial art invented in 1902 by a martial art enthusiast named Barton Wright. Barton called it Bartitsu. This martial art was similar to the mixed martial arts of today as it combined Japanese judo, Japanese jujitsu, boxing, wrestling, French Savate, fencing and the use of the stiletto knife. Some of the skills taught such as fencing and the use of the stiletto knife in  any cases would be illegal today to use. Another skill taught was the use of a walking stick as a defensive an offensive of weapon. In the present day unlike the 1900s you don’t see many people sporting a walking stick or cane. Think about it, a 30-year-old man of today walking around with a cane?

So nowadays, our hands are empty and even though in some states we can obtain permits that allows us to carry a pistol concealed nonetheless we cannot carry the weapon into many public facilities such as theaters, banks, airports, work or anywhere there’s a sign “No Firearms Allowed”. It is therefore unrealistic to assume having a gun is enough protection. Unfortunately, criminals do not follow law and often do have weapons such as guns and knives. As gentlemen we must be prepared to defend ourselves and those we care about if the need arises.

I searched for classes that teach Bartitsu but unfortunately, while there are some, there are very few and none where I live. However, I did discover a martial art that combines 99% of what Bartitsu combined with the exception of fencing. The martial art I am referring to is called Krav Maga, this is an Israeli martial art that combines Japanese judo, Korean karate, Brazilian jujitsu, Muay Thai kickboxing, stick fighting, Wrestling, Boxing and defense from firearms and knife attacks.

Krav Maga has a philosophy that focuses on neutralization of the threat and is used by many law enforcement agencies, including the FBI. Militaries train their soldiers in its use and clearly, the Israeli Defense force uses it. Although it is exceptionally violent, it does teach avoidance techniques and appropriate use of force to neutralize the situation and escape. Where many Eastern martial arts lean towards Confucianism or other spiritual aspects, Krav Maga does not. Krav Maga  as it focuses entirely on the skill and not the spirituality of the student. All of this is why I chose this martial art for myself and is why I recommend it to others. You can find out more and find a school near you at this link: http://www.kravmaga.com/

Now let’s go back to our earlier scenario. The assailant demands your wallet and your lady friend’s jewelry. What you do next is, give it to him, but because of your training, you do it in such a way as to best diffuse the situation and if it escalates, you know how to neutralize it or him. Nevertheless, don’t forget your priority is not protecting your ego or looking tough or “Macho”. Your objective it is to protect the woman to your left, even if you must put your own life in danger doing so, she must leave the situation unharmed… That is a Gentleman.