This is a sobering article, not appropriate for children.

A lot of people think to themselves “well it is highly unlikely to happen to me, so why spend all this time training”. But the odds of getting into a self-defence situation are probably not as slim as you think. But even if they were, the confidence and self-esteem boost you get from knowing that you can protect yourself permeates through your entire life, it is incredibly empowering. Not to mention the fitness, the increased self-discipline, or simply the feeling of improving and bettering yourself. Learning martial arts is a great step forwards for your health both mentally and physically.

But here is why self-defence, in particular, is important:

46% of young people will be bullied. For many, this will not be a handful of relatively isolated incidents but by their very nature, an ongoing campaign that destroys the self-esteem of its victims with ramifications lasting long into adulthood.

1 in 4 women in the UK are the victims of physical domestic violence in their lives and 1 in 10 women will be raped. Let that sink in, that is not a rare occurrence, we would call that an epidemic. But when only 5.7% of reported rape cases end in a conviction is it any wonder that only around 15% of women report sexual violence against them (by the way that means only 1 in 250 rapes are punished). No one talks about just how common this is because they don’t want the stigma of being a victim of sexual violence. But just because no one talks about it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening all the time with alarming regularity.

1.9 million violent crimes are reported to the police every year in England and Wales but most assaults are never reported. Think about it, of all the fights and assaults that you have been involved in, witnessed or heard of how many of them were the police called to?

All of that bad stuff is happening all the time, but what happens if the world takes a turn for the worse? The horrific rapes and violence that followed hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005, and the violence and wanton destruction in 2011 London riots and the continued race violence shows that there is violent behaviour is seething underneath the surface of our society (not just in war-torn third world countries), sadly it is human nature. All it will take is a well placed terrorist attack that cripples vital infrastructure, an economic collapse, an escalation in race or religious violence, or a natural disaster and we may find that our seemingly safe society deteriorates very quickly. This is not fiction, human history is repeated with incidences that see quick regressions from once proud and civilised cultures. Sometimes they are small and momentary lapses like riots and looting, but countless times the world has witnessed the bloody fall of regimes, countries and empires and even the complete collapses of civilisations.

Even if your community doesn’t take a turn for the worse, there are more violent people out there hiding in plain sight than most of us think. The truth is as we go about our daily lives we spend most of our time with our friends and work colleagues who probably all seem very normal and civil. But not all of society is like that. There are people who have mental issues, people on drugs and people who simply have wildly different values than the rest of us. Sometimes we see people out and about who are clearly playing to different rules than the rest of society, but most violent criminals actually blend into society. Think about if 1 in 4 women are the victims of physical domestic violence is it just a handful of bad guys who just get around a lot perpetrating all that violence? Or is violent behaviour seething underneath the surface of a large part of the population?

Now think about the consequences of being a victim of violence. If you are very lucky it is just a few bruises that you will brush off. But a lot of events will change your life, sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically. Failing to defend yourself, especially if you failed to even try to fight back erodes your self-esteem. Think about it; how would it feel to know that someone could hurt you and you couldn’t, or didn’t, do anything to stop it? What if some hurt your partner or children and you couldn’t stop them?

You may have been fortunate and never be confronted with violence, in part that may be because you sensibly avoid dangerous places and bad people, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen to you. Most drivers will never be involved in a serious car accident and being a good driver will dramatically improve your chances, but the reality is you share the road with some people who are bad drivers, just like you share this world with a lot of violent people. For that reason, you probably wouldn’t dream of not having car insurance, and hopefully, you would not dream of not being able to protect yourself and your loved ones either.