Marek Szweda


~ Everyday wisdom ~

Many constantly hear the name self-defense. It is one of the most common activities we try to learn after we or our loved ones are attacked. We can certainly agree that self-defense means the art of defending yourself, right? … However, have you ever tried to answer what self-defense is and what all goes into that name? What aspects of life belong to self-defence, without what would self-defence not be self-defence? Without what would you never defend yourself from an attacker? This is what we will now focus on in this longer article, which discusses self-defense itself.

I have just come from a summer dance camp (yes a dance camp!) where as an instructor I was tasked with teaching 100 kids the basics of self-defense… A very difficult task, I can tell you! But it got me thinking about what to show the kids, what to teach them and what is actually the most important thing when you say self-defense. So let’s look at it a little deeper together.

Self-defense is a key factor in our lives to be able to defend ourselves and preserve our health or preserve the health of our loved ones. It is a complex concept encompassing many aspects of our lives. In fact, it encompasses all the important elements of traditional martial arts, be it physical fitness, stamina, endurance of body and mind, strength, agility, perceptiveness, charisma and other skills and abilities related specifically to self-defense and traditional martial arts.

Now you may say to yourself, it’s too complicated… so many things to constantly improve so that we can defend ourselves. Of course, it’s difficult if we want to be the ones who don’t get knocked down. We can be the best in strength and know all the techniques perfectly, but if we can’t react in time, a faster opponent will beat us without much effort… And so it is in every aspect I’ve written above. Each person is unique and has certain innate settings, certain talents… some people like to run, some people like to work out. But the important thing is to put all of the aspects in harmony so that we can react flexibly in any situation in life, including being attacked by an attacker.

Nowadays, it is difficult to be the best, the fastest, the strongest when there are professionals who train every day for several hours in the very thing they are most passionate about, the thing they have a talent for, and thus become the best in their field. It can be a professional sprinter or a marathoner, but neither of them can match the other in both categories, the marathoner will always win over the sprinter in the marathon and vice versa… It’s only natural… So I’ll ask you the most important question of all: “How do I defend myself when there are people all around me who are much stronger, faster, heavier, taller, … than us?”

Together with the children, we talked about all the aspects that go into self-defence:

  • whether it’s strength that allows us to manipulate an opponent
  • the physical stamina to be able to run and possibly defend ourselves against multiple opponents and not get tired
  • physical endurance, which will ensure we have a strong body that can withstand hard blows in a fight
  • agility, so that we can react quickly with our own bodies
  • Perceptiveness, so that we have quick and correct reflexes to our opponent’s movements, and also so that we can sense our environment and recognize in time when someone is about to attack us
  • charisma, which can influence the people around us, whether it be through our gait, speech, expressions, or even our clothing…
  • the skills we acquire through training and study… when someone starts to choke us, we need to know what to do in that situation to successfully defend ourselves

of course, this is not the whole list, it’s just a few points that I consider the main ones in this article, although the main ones are yet to come.

Together with the children, we also discussed and studied inner peace – we agreed with them that when a person is not calm and is in a situation that arouses fear, tension, restlessness, they often behave quite differently than they would with a “calm head”. Often we act in the same way as the opponent, who starts to scold us and we scold him back with interest, in order to be better… However, it is our reaction that causes the escalation of this verbal attack, which can turn into a physical attack just by the fact that you overcome him verbally and thus encourage him to prove his strength to you in another way.

The martial arts have always had an inherent connection with the symbol of the yin-yang – the symbol of harmony between the two aspects of life – action and inaction – this could be one of the expressions that the yin-yang conveys. We, in particular, when we are in a certain situation, can deal with it in many ways, we can go into a rage and start acting accordingly, we can ignore the situation and remain inactive as if nothing is happening, or we can be calm, be in our center, so to speak, and act exactly as we feel in our heart is right.

Listen to your heart – one of the phrases that is used all over the world, although if you ask a person what it means, they often don’t know the answer… It is very difficult to answer, because the heart speaks through the deepest level of us, which is covered by the many layers of our ego and the patterns of behaviour we have picked up throughout our lives. Together with the children we went through some stories just about listening to our own heart and some philosophical rules, such as don’t judge a book by its cover – one of the most important ones, because we won’t know what’s in the book until we open it…

Anyway, why did we end up with the phrase “listen to your heart” in an article about self-defense? It’s very important! Every traditional martial art has a deep philosophy that aims for the warrior to find his own inner peace, harmony… Inner peace is really hard to find when we experience a very fast-paced life full of different life situations, but just because that life is always speeding up and something new is always coming up, we should first of all find ourselves through our inner peace, which will provide us with many benefits during our lives. It may be avoiding stress before performing, it may be having the courage to approach the person I am attracted to… inner peace is needed in every aspect of our lives so that we do not fall into stress and it builds up to the point that it manifests through illness. Many illnesses are psychosomatic, which we create ourselves through accumulated stress that we cannot process. We get bogged down in stress, and then that stress is transformed into disease. One of the key factors to successful self-defence is to listen to our heart, to listen to our deepest feelings and to life itself, because if we can understand the language of our heart and listen to it, then we will never get into situations where we have to react to any attack.

I am going to write down a story here, I don’t even know if I heard it somewhere or if I made it up, either way it is very important and beneficial for every person:

Imagine an Indian canoeing down the Amazon River. He is floating down a calm river to a neighboring country he has decided to explore. It is an uncharted land that he wants to explore and discover. As he has been paddling like this for a few hours, a strange feeling suddenly comes over him, as if something is pressing on his heart. The Indian is confused and doesn’t understand what is happening, why does he feel this pressure on his heart, why is this happening to him as he sails so beautifully on a calm river into a new uncharted land? But he did not repress this feeling, but was trying to find an answer when suddenly the thought came to him that he should leave the river and go with the canoe on his back through the jungle full of trees, thorns and obstacles just instead of calmly floating on this river… He wondered what was he thinking, why should he do such a thing? Why should he take the difficult path when he could take the peaceful one? The pressure in his heart increased until he obeyed his heart, came to the shore, took his canoe on his back, and really walked for a long time through the jungle of obstacles until he reached the shore again, where he could continue on his peaceful journey… But when he reached the shore and was preparing his canoe for the next journey, he looked around and found that he could hear the sound of the water, which intrigued him. It was a few dozen yards back downriver, he decided to investigate. As he walked there, the murmur grew steadily louder, and a high cliff appeared which was right on the river, forming a magnificent waterfall, which, if he had tried to swim through, would not have done either the Indian or the canoe any good….

What does the story represent? It depicts in simplicity the art of listening to our hearts, even when it goes completely against the logic of the mind to always avoid danger. We can save ourselves so much if we just listen to our heart through deep inner peace and harmony. It is not so easy, few can do it, but all traditional martial arts lead precisely to finding that “mythical” inner peace and listening to one’s own heart that leads one to live happy and fulfilled lives. Self-defense is not just about kicking an attacker’s crotch, but it is a comprehensive set of all aspects of life to live in peace and always be prepared to deal with any situation in life, not just a physical attack.

And that is what traditional martial arts are all about and together we spread these values and life principles among people through our activities in our club in Karviná “Survival & Kung Fu Club Karviná, z.s.” Our activity offers teaching of traditional martial arts, effective self-defense, but also health exercises Qi-Gong and meditation for finding inner peace and deeper knowledge. We believe that everyone who is looking will find what they need. Everything important about the club can be found on our website

Wisdom for the end

“Follow your intuition, it will always lead you to the right place,
where the greatest treasure awaits you.”

Marek Szweda