Self-defense techniques often entail using deadly force against an attacker, but before they're taught to students — especially younger ones — due consideration must be given to what it means to end a human life.

I recently attended a martial arts seminar that was just plain disturbing. The highlight of the demo portion was a series of defenses against a knife attack. Nearly every routine went like this: Block the stabbing arm, throw the attacker, apply a wrist lock and cut his neck with his own knife. What bothered me was the thoughtlessness with which the students drew rubber knives across bare throats. Their actions meant death, and there was no sign these martial artists — some of whom were as young as 12 or 13 — understood it. Killing someone is horrible. Even if you are justified in taking a life, it means the absolute end of another human being. No one ever really makes peace with having killed someone. It is a humbling thing, a black stain on your soul that never goes away. I’d wager that no one in that demonstration ever cut into another living thing, much less a human throat. If they had, they wouldn’t have taken it so lightly. Reality I guess what really bothers me is that this cavalier attitude toward killing is not confined to that demonstration or even the art that was featured. I’ve seen attackers get dispatched with their own rubber weapons in a dozen demos from as many different arts. What is disturbing is that we no longer take death seriously. We don’t take death seriously because we don’t have to. Most of us live comfortable lives in a relatively safe society. The martial arts are no longer a necessity for survival. They are a bourgeois hobby — $75 a month to get in shape and learn self-confidence. But the level of comfort we’ve achieved in contemporary martial arts is a subtle betrayal. Comfort is not what brought the arts into being or sustained them for thousands of years; an omnipresent threat of assault and murder did. History The people who founded the martial arts we now study took death seriously. They did because they had to. They couldn’t count on police to protect them or hospitals to heal them. In the lawless societies that spawned the fighting arts, violent confrontation was part of everyday life. And without the safety net of dependable and accessible health care, each injury was potentially fatal. This is why the ancient masters were so secretive, treating each technique with ritual awe. Their actions had absolute consequence, and they were acutely aware of it. Death was never far away. Now that violent confrontation is no longer an everyday occurrence, we no longer feel our own mortality. We play at death, carving each other up with rubber knives to titillate crowds. We give lectures on our “deadly” or “lethal” techniques, then congratulate ourselves on restraining our righteous anger. We talk about death like we understand it and have it under control. But we don’t. Necessity If there is one thing that is sorely lacking in the martial arts, it is an understanding that life is brief and fragile and that this is the reason we learn discipline and respect in the dojo. As martial artists, we must always remember that our actions can have absolute consequences. Resources To order Keith Vargo's book Philosophy of Fighting: Morals and Motivations of the Modern Warrior, go here. To download a FREE Guide titled Hoplology: Martial Arts Weapons and How Humans Fight, go here. For more information about Keith Vargo and his martial arts writings, visit his blog.

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The UFC returned to American network television for the first time in more than two years Saturday on ABC while former featherweight champion Max Holloway returned to his winning ways following two straight losses, earning a unanimous decision over Calvin Kattar in Abu Dhabi. Holloway showed he still has plenty left as a fighter dominating Kattar from the opening bell of the main event with a mix of punches and low kicks.

It appeared as if the former champion might stop his opponent in the fourth round landing a series of vicious body blows followed by hard elbows to the head as a bloodied Kattar sagged against the fence. But Kattar somehow survived managing to keep himself upright through the fifth stanza as well, only to lose a lopsided decision. After dropping his title to Alexander Volkanovski and then losing a controversial rematch, Holloway may have put himself in position for one more crack at the championship following Saturday's impressive performance.

The Legendary Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame has never before been documented in a single location. Now, you can learn about all the icons that have achieved one of the greatest honors in all of martial arts.

Black Belt Magazine is proud to announce the NEW Member Profiles feature for the Hall of Fame. At the time of this article, the online records account for every inductee from the inaugural year of 1968 all the way through 1990 (upwards of 200 martial artists). The page will be updated continuously and will include every inductee through 2020 in the near future. For now, you can enjoy images and facts about the legendary members for each induction they received before 1991. Take advantage of this never-before-seen opportunity to learn about many of the martial artists who contributed to the lifestyle, culture, and community that every martial artist experiences today.

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ONE Championship kicked off their 2021 campaign in Singapore on Friday, January 22, with ONE: Unbreakable.

The six-bout card featured five finishes including in the main event as Capitan Petchyindee Academy ousted Alaverdi Ramazanov for the ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Championship.

See how all of the action went down in The Lion City with this recap of ONE: Unbreakable.

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These three simple ways will make you more flexible instantly!

Fighters need to have an optimal amount of flexibility to kick, punch, takedown their opponent and even to escape submission holds. Your body has to be able to move through ranges of motion effectively, and that requires your muscles to stretch and contract functionally. In order to create flexibility, you have to wrap your mind around that it is more than just stretching a muscle.

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