Learning Selfdefense 1

During the pandemic I have seen and read a lot about different selfdefense systems. One pretending to be better than the other one, some even claim to be the best.

But what is the best selfdefense system? When is someone an expert in selfdefense? What is the best way to train selfdefense? What organization is the best? Are traditional martial arts selfdefense? Can I learn selfdefense from an online class? Do I have to get into the ring to feel confident enough to be resilient?

In order to answer these questions, we have to break everything down in smaller chapters. My goal is to write at least a chapter a week on trying to answer these questions. Will this make me an expert on selfdefense and on selfdefense systems. Absolutely not, but what I do hope, is to give different perspectives on what I’ve learned in the past 43 years…

Who am I? I am just an instructor who has been around the block for quite some time.

If you are interested in what my background is, I will tell you below. If you don’t care, just wait for my next post where I will be talking about what I think the best selfdefense system is.

So back to introducing myself. My name is Gerwin Kranenburg, I have a selfdefense school in Harderwijk, The Netherlands.

I started training karate-do at age 5. When I started at that age, I had no clue there were different styles of karate, let alone that there were other martial arts besides judo and karate. The first style I started training in, was Wado-ryu Karate-do. After about a year my parents moved, so I had to find another sport to do. The city where I lived offered judo classes, so that’s what I started to do. As a boy with some overweight, I had a good time in Judo. If you just sit on a lighter kid of the same age and the same level, competition wasn’t that hard…. After a few years of training Judo, and later on some jiu-jitsu, my parents moved again. After trying Taekwondo and kickboxing for a while, I wasn’t convinced this was meant to be for me. Being an overweight kid, I got bullied quite a bit. I was the loner in highschool the boy with no friends. Don’t feel bad for me, it shaped me into who I am right now. One day I got sick and tired from it all and I learned a new karate-do school started classes in my town. This is where my real karate-do adventure started. I picked up training big time, started training approximately 2 hours a day, 7 days a week. I started to grow stronger, got taller and lost weight. No more bullying going on! My confidence grew by the week. At age 18 I earned my 1st degree black belt after training for two years (back then you had to be 18 before being allowed to test). Two years later I earned my 2nd degree black belt and three years after that one I earned my third degree black belt. This was all in the style Kyokushin kai karate-do. I felt my teacher couldn’t help me any further, so I left for two other styles: Kyokushin and Shotokan karate. This was quite the difference. On the one hand the full contact style, lots of sparring. On the other hand Shotokan, with the emphasis on kata and how these forms relate to selfdefense. To be honest, I loved both. What I love about Kyokushin is that it’s pure, it is what it is. If you hit someone, you can see the outcome. If they hit you, you feel the outcome. What I loved about Shotokan was the way of explaining adaption of the techniques. Training for hours on perfecting just one technique. But it takes persistence, to keep on repeating the same thing over and over again. But you knw what they say: Practice makes perfect…

In training these different arts, I was missing one thing: street reality. I went looking for what else I could train, to become more versatile. I attended many seminars of many grandmasters and experts, from Aikido, Systema, Krav Maga, MMA instructors, you name it. There was one thing that I liked: Krav Maga. I had been attending seminars from leadinstructors from all over the world throughout Europe and I fell in love with this system. I was lucky to train with some of the world’s best instructors and this helped me to go through the system pretty fast. What I like about this system is that it takes away all the nice forms and only the essential parts needed to survive remain.

Belts that I earned in the past 43 year:

  • Blue belt Jiu-Jitsu
  • Brown belt Judo
  • 3rd degree black belt Kyokushin Karate-do
  • 3rd degree black belt Krav Maga
  • 5th degree black belt Shotokan Karate-do

Does this all make me an expert? No, it doesn’t!  But I hope this will trigger you into questioning what you know and whether this is what you need to achieve your goals.

So far this intro. If you are interested, don’t forget to follow us on social media (@stcharderwijk)!

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