1. How to avoid ineffective self defense programs
Let’s face it a a lot of self-defense programs suck. They don’t deliver on what they say they’re going too and you end up wasting money and time. People are lucky they don’t have to use the skills they learned because they’d learn a harsh lesson. Frankly, this isn’t a business that forgives bad decisions. As an instructor your life is in my hands and I wholly accept the responsibility that one day you might need to call upon what I teach you. Therefore, here’s three tips that you must pay attention to in order to properly prepare for real-world self-defense. Avoid classes that focus on teaching sporting techniques and tactics, give no mention to criminal/predatory behavior and don’t primarily address worst-case scenarios.
2. Avoid combat sports classes
Training in a combat sport doesn’t prepare you primarily for self-defense. It ignores many of the most important aspects needed to be a high quality self-defense system. A combat sport has rules and regulations and prepares you to fight in a “fair” way. It also prepares you to fight an opponent who will fight fair and decent. It develops reflexes and responses that limit you to fighting one person who’s unarmed. Now does that mean that you can’t defend yourself with these techniques. Assuredly not, it just means they’re not the best for self-defense and could get your seriously injured if certain variables present themselves that you don’t consistently train for.
A self-defense class shouldn’t spend it’s time teaching you to spar, adopt stances, get on the floor and grapple etc. Now I’ve been around some of the toughest boxers/strikers in the world as well as grappling practitioners. I can honestly say they can handle themselves no doubt about it. That being said honest practitioners who’ve dealt with reality STILL will tell you there training isn’t the most realistic. Furthermore, if you you train less than half the amount they do, without their genetic attributes and expect to fight like they can you’re mistaken.
Violent criminals don’t want to spar with you and often don’t give you the chance. They want to rape, kill, kidnap or rob you and many of them can attack in vicious ways that’s hard to imagine if you haven’t experienced it. There’s a forensic history documenting this and it’s quite brutal. People fight differently when they mean to kill.
3. Avoid classes that don’t train you for surprise attacks and multiple assailants
Criminals attack you when you’re off guard and they often come in groups. This is hard to accept but in reality expect to be attacked when you least expect it. Criminals want an easy day at “work” which is why they work so hard to take you by surprise. Accept in many instances they’ll attack you from an angle you weren’t expecting and you’ll have to fight from an awkward position. Combat sports don’t prepare you to defend against these sorts of attacks. Primarily they train you for an attacker that you see and are able to prepare for by going into a stance and engaging.
Also combat sports don’t prepare you for aggressive dynamic attacks from multiple people. The amount of criminal assaults that involve multiple people makes it a necessity that you train using strategies that enable you to deal with more than one person. Relying on standing or ground grappling is a bad strategy when your attacker is armed, has friends, can get access to improvised weapons on the ground and/or has accomplices that can stomp you. Also conventional striking and grappling works less effectively in real-world environments such as concrete, staircases and hallways.
3. Avoid classes that don’t discuss criminal psychology
Self-defense should spend a lengthy amount of time discussing criminal psychology, behaviors and intent. This is important because it lets your clients know what they’re dealing with and prepare accordingly. Criminals aren’t always skilled but many of them have anti-social personalities. This makes them have less aversion to acting out violently and lying in order to deceive people. Listen to interviews with them and read books about how they ploy their trade and you’ll realize they’re determined and sometimes highly skilled. They aren’t the stupid, overly cooperative people that many self-defense classes make them out to be. So educating clients on these things allows them to avoid being victimized by dangerous predators.
If a class isn’t addressing this it’s putting you at a serious disadvantage. In order to combat this type of criminal you have to be ruthless and have no aversion to dishing out damage quickly to stop the attack as quickly as possible. For example in Guided Chaos we once had a client who began training with us after years of kickboxing training. She was attacked and battered the criminal. After he was seriously hurt she leaned over to make sure she hadn’t gone to far. He then suddenly rose up and hit her in the face with a punch dagger. This is where understanding criminal psychology and having made hard decisions before hand come into play and hopefully keep you as safe as possible.
4. Avoid classes that don’t primarily address worst-case scenarios
Lastly if you’re class doesn’t spend most of it’s time addressing worst-case scenarios it’s not preparing you for criminal violence. I heard the other day from a notable bjj practioner that training for self-defense is stupid because all you need in a bar fight is a double-leg takedown and a rear naked choke to end the fight. This is the type of argument a qualified instructor should never make.
The beginning of self-defense starts with the rule stay away from stupid people doing stupid things in stupid places. Adopting this rule allows you to avoid idiotic “bar fights” in the first place. As mature adults we need to be training for situations that go beyond this limited scope. So we need to train for serious attacks by determined criminals that intend to seriously injure, maim and/ or kill you. It’s not as simple to defeat criminals under these circumstances.
Prepare to fight insane, drug fueled, physically formidable psychopaths armed with weapons who have experience using violence on people. It’s silly to assume you’ll only be attacked by clumsy drunks in bars. It’s just as silly to assume that because someone is untrained they’re not dangerous. Learn about the brutal forensic reality of murders, rapes, knife attacks, gang assaults and you’ll never underestimate “untrained” people again. They might be untrained but that doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous.
5. Final Thoughts
Life is all about choices and the consequences of the choices you make. You absolutely can choose to ignore the guidelines I’ve laid out and still be able to defend yourself in many situations. However, you aren’t giving yourself the best possible chance to protect yourself and your loved ones. For me I must give myself and my family the best possible chance to win in an altercation because I know second place is unacceptable. I’ve made my choice and now that you’re informed make your choice as well.