Both. A school because, ultimately, self-defense is about learning how to fight. We focus on weapons, power, and empty hands. Power is not the same thing as strength, and you can be strong but not have power. Weapons because you might not be keen on sticking a knife into someone, but could you stop someone from ramming one into you? Would you know where to start?
A gym because you could know how to fight, but if you’re not fit, what good does your knowledge do you? Can you sustain a fight? Would you gas out? What if there was more than one attacker? And, a gym gives you a place to train. Depending on your membership, you could have 24-hr access and train any time you want.
None to start. We have plenty of equipment when you begin. But, after you decide to train seriously, you will want to acquire your own. Warrior/weapons cultures go back 40,000 years and cross cultures, and in warrior societies, weapons are sacred. So, fairly soon, you will want your own.
For your first purchases, buy bag gloves, a training knife, and a pair of sticks. We generally have some things for sale, but we are happy to recommend reputable dealers.
Also get a notebook. As a student of violence and counter-violence, you will study and take notes. Record what you learn, reflect on it, write questions, track your progress.
Of course. Any time you decide to use your training, any time you draw a weapon or raise your fist, any time you engage with another person, even verbally, you risk legal jeopardy. Even if you act to protect yourself from what you consider to be a life-threatening situation, police and prosecutors may see it differently. And when you admit to harming another person, even if acting in self-defense, you have already confessed to a crime.
It is not enough to say, “I was afraid for my life.” Because the next questions you will likely be asked are: why exactly were you afraid for your life, what specifically did the other person do to make you feel that way, what steps did you take to avoid the situation, etc.? Therefore, it is crucial for you to understand the self-defense laws in your city, state, etc. and be able to clearly articulate why you took the actions you did. Two, excellent starting resources are the books What You Don’t Know Can Kill You by Marc MacYoung and The Law of Self Defense by Andrew Branca.
The type of knife a person chooses says a lot about that person. Different knives have different uses. There are different priorities and philosophies attached to various knives, and different knives have different techniques and carry and conceal methods. Different martial schools often promote one type of knife over another, and at different stages of your development, your preferences for knife and carry method may change. It’s good to understand differences so you can make informed choices.
Also, recent studies by The FBI indicate that over two times more people are killed with knives than rifles and shotguns combined, and 70% of men admit to carrying a knife. Most of those knives are folders, which aren’t great for self-defense, and most guys don’t know how to use their knife. But even a suboptimal knife in untrained hands can hurt or kill you. For these reasons, we do a lot of offensive and defensive knife work at Albuquerque Warrior Arts.
These are to teach students to target specific areas of the body. Many people think, for example, that simply hitting, cutting, or stabbing someone anywhere will stop him, and immediately at that. Did you know there is not a single place on the human torso where a stab would kill someone instantly? That means an attacker is still dangerous, and capable of drawing a gun and shooting you, or stabbing you, or hurting you in some other way, even if you have seriously injured him, and perhaps fatally so. But there are places on the body, we call them “switches,” where injury will structurally or mechanically cause a joint or muscle to stop working. Those areas are good to know because injuries to those areas will stop a person from hurting you with those weapons, i.e., arm or leg. There are other areas on the body, respiratory and circulatory controls, we call those “timers,” that will stop the body within a period of time. For example, a person choking will eventually pass out, but he or she is still capable of fighting until then.
Yourself and your own bad decisions will put you in more danger than most anyone else. As Marc “the animal” MacYoung would say, as long as you avoid doing stupid things in stupid places with stupid people, your chances of avoiding violence are high. Conversely, staying out late, being intoxicated or high, being places you shouldn’t, driving your car like a jerk, and shooting your mouth off around unfamiliar people are tickets to trouble.
When you become a student of violence and carry weapons, your responsibilities and requirement for restraint and politeness go up, not down. Any time you draw a weapon or raise your fist, you are volunteering for other things to happen, and you cannot predict all of them. You could hurt or kill another person. You could be hurt or killed. You could go to jail. You could lose your family. You could lose an eye. You could bankrupt yourself and your family with legal fees. And so on.
Are you ready for that? Is it still worth it to cut someone off or give him the finger? Do you really think you “are going to show that guy”? You think he is going to listen to reason? He probably has a 5th grade education, is intoxicated or high, has been in jail, and is willing to go again rather than be disrespected. A fight you avoid is a fight you win. Every time.