Self-defense, doesn’t work. This may seem a weird statement coming from a self-defense instructor, however in my experience (both personally
and from working in the security industry), and those of individuals I have worked with, physical self-defense techniques, without personal
safety/self-protection training, are very difficult to employ. One of the purposes of this course is to give you, the personal safety/self-protection
piece that is often missing in a lot of self-defense programs. If you are looking to learn how to physically defend yourself – and I believe
this is a worthwhile skill to have – then these would be the things, I would look for in a class.
Does the instructor simply teach techniques, or do they explain the techniques in the context where they will be used? There are many great
“technical” martial arts and self-defense instructors out there, however if they can’t explain how and when different attacks and threats occur,
and give context to the techniques that they are teaching it is unlikely that you will be able to use the material that they are expecting you to
learn. If an instructor simply says that when somebody grabs you, you do this, it is evident that they don’t really understand all the situational
factors that may be at play. In one situation, negotiation may be applicable, in another breaking away, and in another attacking your assailant etc.
A good self-defense instructor, regardless of the style/system they are teaching, will be able to explain to you what real-world violence looks like,
and teach you when and how, to apply the appropriate tactics.
Are the techniques instinctive or instinctual? When you are attacked, there are certain movements you will perform naturally to defend yourself e.g.
you will flinch and bring your arm up to defend yourself when attacked. Are the techniques you are learning, based on natural movements, or are you
being asked to move and work in a way that goes against these responses. This is one of the reasons that many people are unable to replicate what
they have learnt in a self-defense program/class, in real life. A good test of this is if you are able to perform what you have learnt when put under
pressure. Pressure or stress testing, should be part of your physical training, to make sure that you can put into practice what you have learnt when
under stress and duress – an emotional state you will be in if physically attacked.
Is there reuse of techniques? In reality, there is a limit to what you will be able to remember when assaulted. Because of this, you will want a
handful of techniques that you can apply in a multitude of situations i.e. reuse them. There is only a certain number of ways that a person can grab
you or your clothing, if you have to learn and remember different ways to deal with each separate attack, it is more than likely that you will not be
able to identify the “type” of attack, and the “appropriate” technique/response, in time to deal with it. Simple solutions, that can be replicated,
to deal with different incidents is the mark of a good self-defense program. These may not cover every eventuality but they are a good starting point.
Is your instructor passionate, and does he welcome your questions? A good instructor will be training you to be able to defend yourself if attacked.
He/she should be passionate about training you to deal with a real-life incident. If they are detached or seem removed, I would question that they
actually “care” to teach you how to survive. Unfortunately, there are instructors out there, who don’t want to be questioned as to why you should
do something, or act and behave in a certain way etc. If your instructor is confident about what they are teaching, they should be able to answer
your questions and deal with your concerns.
Whilst there is no substitute for training, I have written books on the subject, which you can access by
clicking here, and have a number of free videos
that you can watch by