I thought it might be fun to vent on what my Top 7 Self Defense Frustrations are in regards to self defense. As usual, this is my opinion so I might be out to lunch, but all I have is my opinion so there, I stand by these :0). Please feel free to agree, disagree, or offer some of your thoughts. These are my Top 7 in no particular order:
1) Instructors Who Skip The Pre-Physical Phase of Self Defense - real self defense is about avoiding violence all together, escaping before the violence begins, or verbally defusing to avoid violence, but so many jump immediately to the physical side of self defense which is often the last step. Do people not know how to teach it, do they not think it is important enough, or do they just not know how to make the topics interesting? I find the pre-physical side of self defense the most fascinating.
2) Just Yell Back Off - this is widely taught to women and men as a way to scare off the attacker, but think about it. In the case of sexual assaults, where do they usually take place? Normally it is somewhere isolated so no one is going to hear your attempt at intimidating the attacker. In fact, most often it will get your attacker to hit you faster to shut you up. Secondly, the attacker chooses someone they feel is vulnerable so this last minute attempt at appearing confident is not respected, and in fact is taken as a challenge most often escalating the attack. And thirdly, you have prepared the atttacker for a possible defense by yelling and adopting some martial arts type stance which is not the most strategic response. Why do people teach this? In my opinion it is because they do not know how to teach more intelligent strategies and to the uneducated it appears to make sense to tell someone to "Back Off", but that is far from reality.
3) Just Kick Him in The Groin - virtually every women's seminar I have taught, someone will say just kick your attacker in the groin because they have been taught that or have seen in movies how the guy will drop to the ground and writhe in pain. Can a shot to the groin be effective? Sure, but most often a shot to the nads is far from a fight finisher. If the situation is serious enough, there are 2 targets on the human body that are much more debilitating, they eyes and throat. Without going into detail, if they can't see, they can't fight, and if they can't breathe, they can't fight. And I am not a huge fan of striking the groin anyways due to the compromise in balance. As a secondary target, sure strike the groin, but don't expect it to end anything
4) Do Move A, then Move B, then Move C - teaching people to react to any attack with a set of memorized techniques borders on irresponsible and negligent, but most seem to use this approach in teaching self defense. How about for example, you were taught that if someone grabs your wrist that you step in, grab your fist, and spin your arm/wrist against their wrist since it is the weak point. Now, what if they are just too strong to spin against anything, or what if they drag you and you can't get close enough to grab your wrist, or what if as they grab your wrist they strike you in the face, or what if you are on a slippery surface and you can't get your balance, or what if, what if, what if. There are far too many variables to offer a set of memorized techniques. Or what if during any attack you strike your attacker and you expect them to land in the way your instructor showed you and you practiced with your partner, but they end up in a completely different position, or worse they don't react at all and keeping coming at you? Better in my opinion to not get locked into any expectations on their side cause that limits your ability to react when the shit hits the fan and goes a different direction than you anticipated. By doing live, dynamic drills without expectations on how they will react, you quickly learn to adapt to the moment with concepts and principles that address the reality of violence. What are those concepts and principles? I am not going into them mid rant, sorry! lol
5) Go to The Ground on Purpose - notice I said on purpose. I have seen many self defense videos where the students, paricularly women are taught to purposely go the ground because they have strong legs where they can use them better. I have blogged on this before and this topic seems to garner a lot of attention. Should you learn how to fight back and defend from the ground? Of course, but to purposely put yourself somewhere that the attacker very possibly wants you is not too intelligent. And if the goal is to flee as in flight or fight, then you have made it more difficult to do both by putting yourself on the ground. Yes, women may have strong legs, but does it mean they are stronger than the attackers? And if they get on top of you, again you have limited your ability to fight back due to the struggle you will face with their weight on you while they are striking, choking, etc. And what if they have friends who come over to stomp, now your chances of survival have greatly diminished even more. I can't of any reason why you would put yourself in a more difficult postion to escape.
6) Don't Talk, Just Hit Him - look there are times when one can and should pre-emptively strike, but to tell people to just strike at the sign of discomfort with a possible attacker could land you in jail. Often in social violence situations you can verbally defuse if you know what to say. Sometimes a simple question like, "How can I help you'" with someone who confronts you will give you the information you need to give a response that will have them walk away peacefully and if it does not work, at least you have taken some moral, legal, and ethical steps to avoid violence. Now of course that is just a very simple explanation, one must take the time to learn what they might say, but to just say "Hit Him" is an example of self defense instruction that is very limited similar to just teaching people to yell, "Back Off". And remember in this day and age of cell phones and every situation being taped, if you just strike someone without any other attempts to defuse, the video is not going to help you in the court system.
7) Self Defense Gadgets - there are many self defense gadgets being marketed to women that appear to make you invulnerable, but often the opposite is true. Take for example, these keychains with cute fancy names that can cause serious damage on your attacker. Okay, what if you drop it, and you have no other training to back it up? Now you have caused a pause in your defense cause you had put all your faith in your gadget to protect you, and you might even escalate the violence on you possibly with your own little tool you had relied on to protect you. Or many begin to take unnecessary risks because they think their device will even the odds of making some more risky decisions. Or I love the devices that go to a central monitoring station and a live person asks the attacker to identify themselves. Is it possible the attacker might want to get that device from you and harm you in the meantime for having it? Learn how to use the tools you were born with first and foremost. Your mind, your hands, and other parts of your body can do much more damage if necessary.
There RANT OVER!!! For now!!
Managing Director, SAFE International