Maybe I am imagining it, but there appears to be more and more online self defense certifications than there were just a few years ago. I am a self defense instructor and I do operate a self defense business. I am in the business of making people safer and in making a profit. I have purposely made our programs affordable for the average person, and in some cases free, for those who may need it, but can' afford it. But where I draw the line is making a profit first and foremost before the responsibility that self defense companies have in my opinion.
I get many calls and emails about what it would take to become a certified self defense instructor with SAFE International and quite frankly the majority of my conversations do not go much further than one or two exchanges back and forth. Most often people's first question is what the cost is. I completely understand that the cost is important, and I believe SAFE International's Certified Partner program may be more than most, but if it is the most important question before anything else to someone interested, I usually begin questioning if it will be right for them or for the business. Admittedly, this is the one area where I used to question myself because I believe I could have had dozens or more certified instructors if I was just willing to lower the cost, but I have no interest in a large quantity of instructors, I am more interested in high quality instructors. Or I should say I am most interested in High Quality Human Beings! Do I have a perfect formula for determining this? Of course not, and as I teach in self defense, I mostly rely on my intuition. So if I believe someone is a right fit for our organization, there is always a way to make it work out as I would never want to lose a potentially great partner just based on money if I see the benefits of working with them.
Then the idea of certifying someone without meeting and training with them in person is mind blowing to me on many levels. To me that sounds more like a money grab. Sure, much of your initial contact with them may be via message, Skype, or phone, but at some point you need to meet them to train them. How can you teach, discuss, and go in-depth into all the concepts, principles, topics, etc you have unless you spend quality time with them where they can question you, you question them, going into all the finer details for hours and hours? How do you know that they will show the drills or present the material in a way that is consistent to your methods, principles, philosophies, etc? I know from first hand experience the challenges of keeping quality control on everything, it is very difficult at times. But at the same time I want their own personality and teaching style to come out while remaining true to the material.
I have even asked people what they have thought of our videos or material and believe or not, I have had several people say something to the effect of, "Well, I have not seen any yet, but you seem to be very busy when I look at the SAFE International website, so I thought I would see what it will take to become certified with you!" WOW, just WOW!!! Sometimes I will ask, "But what if you don't agree with what we teach?". I commonly get, "I am sure I will, but I will teach whatever I have to!" Again, WOW!!!! Self defense instructors teach potentially live saving information and the fact that someone might consider teaching material they do not agree with is crazy in my opinion. See, I would never ask someone to compromise to teach the SAFE International curriculums. If what we teach does not fit in line with their philosophies, then great, let's agree to disagree. I like to think that we teach the best possible material, but I would never want someone to represent SAFE if I knew they did not agree with what we teach.