Letters to the EditorMarch 25, 1997
Self defense needs mental edge
I have an opinion about the piece in the Lariat by Martha Roberts on Cardiokicking.
First, I have no problem with any kind of legitimate martial arts or aerobics class. There's also room for more competent people. I have a problem with the dangerous practice of deluding people into thinking they're receiving something they're not -- self defense skills in this case.
Let's examine this: no partner drills, no contact, no hitting things, not hitting people, not getting grabbed... aerobics? OK. Self defense? Only a naive child whose only experience with physical violence is from watching Barney or the Smurfs could seriously believe that.
Being in shape is good, and this is a part of self defense (just ask my self defense students). However, self defense training must also include many psychological aspects. For instance, learning to think clearly and function when you are scared and tired. Unless you learn to control your fear and perform under stress, then your physical skills are irrelevant. You will not get to use them. This is called the 'deer in the headlights' look.
Useful self defense training is not a warm, fuzzy experience. The physical part of self defense training is properly called 'learning how to fight.' This is very demanding, and obviously not for everyone. A traditional martial art, such as real aikido or real karate, as taught by myself or Dr. Pack, is a perfectly safe environment to sample this experience without encountering hostility, macho attitudes, etc. However, it will not be everyone's cup of tea.
In closing, I believe it is irresponsible to incorrectly label something self defense, which in turn might lead the participants to have confidence in a skill which in fact does not exist.
James R. Melton
Karate/ Self defense instructor
First Amendment response
Henry Chang's view of the First Amendment is as disturbing as it is wrong. First of all, Baylor University is not regulated by the First Amendment; it applies to acts of Congress only. So if students choose to tear down somebody else's free speech, it is well within their constitutional rights.
What disturbs me, however, is the view held by Mr. Chang that free speech only applies to tasteful, good, wholesome, Christian speech. Mr. Chang, the First Amendment was designed to protect speech, no matter how distasteful it might be to you, from government censorship or regulation. If you don't like Marilyn Manson, don't go to their concerts. Your time would be better served reading the First Amendment and learning what it stands for--the free exchange of ideas and thoughts without fear of government prosecution or persecution, even if they offend you.
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