Personal space and overcoming fear

Kempo or any martial arts practiced for the purpose of self-defense requires the violation of personal space and boundaries. This means someone will be very close to you during your training. Not just at arm’s length but pressed up against your body and pushing against you. For some people in today’s society, that is very uncomfortable. We have in America unspoken rules about personal space and how not to abridge them.

Crazy bulling waving his fist

Crazy bulling waving his fist

Personal space for this article is defined as the distance from the body trunk out to the full reach of the arm. Generally in normal daily life, strangers don’t intrude beyond this invisible boundary. However someone whose sole purpose is to rob or attack will step into this area for intimidation.

Get use to violating personal space through frequent practice with partners. Being stick shy or cringing when practicing with weapons can result in defeat in a real confrontation. Allow yourself time to acclimate to the sounds of sticks hitting or weapons brandished near you. Allow your partner to come in quickly into that personal space, but move quickly into some technique.

In this exercise, don’t let the violation of space go unanswered. You must move and defend against anything that comes in. For Americans, even close friends don’t habitually encroach upon that space. You can assume that anyone who does has nefarious intentions.

For example, if you are a woman in an office setting and someone touches your shoulders from behind you, react like it is an attack. Should you later learn that it is a coworker (usually by seeing their face after a throw), apologize. Tell them that you don’t like that sort of contact and it felt like an attack. Everyone will understand and respect that space. This will also help you distinguish friend from foe.

The comfort zone and personal space is where the enemy wants to be because you’ll stall or submit. If you react quickly and confidently, their advantage will evaporate and you will get the advantage. Don’t let someone intimidate you just by standing close and looking into your eyes. You should stare back and steady your stance. Look calm and speak with stern, calm tones.

Don’t let your personal space be your Kryptonite or Achilles’ Heel. Make it a non-issue and your defense ability will improve.

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