December 21, 2013, Toronto, Canada - In this SAFE International Self Defense Blog I would like to discuss what I feel to be the missing link in self defense, which is the use of humour. Now, immediately most people ask how humour could be an important part of a topic that is so serious?In fact, I have had a few people who have inquired about working for SAFE International who felt that our use of humour was inappropriate. As I always say, "They may be right", but I have had an overwhelming response from the people we teach that it is definitely an important part of SAFE International self defense courses. I would like to list a number of reasons why I feel it is an integral part of teaching our women's self defense courses. And yes, we use humour when teaching men's self defense as well. By no means do I think that all people enjoy our brand of humour, but I will go with what we receive as feedback from the hundreds of thousands we have taught.
1) Misconceptions about self defense - the majority of SAFE International clients have little if any self defense training or knowledge. They generally come in with a fear that they will get hurt due to what they have seen, read, or heard in the media in regards to self defense. We generally have 4 hours with these women who are usually strangers to me or other SAFE International instructors. It is imperative that an environment be set that is conducive to learning. That can be immediately be set by using humour. Immediately people have a look of shock that the next 4 hours may not only be educational, but also fun which leads to the other points I will make.
2) Comfortable Sharing Stories - virtually every women's self defense party/course I have taught stories of horrific violence or abuse come up with one or more of the women. Countless times these women will share with me that they had no intention of sharing them with the group, but because of the atmosphere created between everyone, they end up feeling it is very important to share. The humour doesn't make fun of the topic, but allows the group to feel comfortable with those around them. Often tears and laughter are both shared during our courses.
3) The More Fun, The More Hits - this is something I feel very strong about. You would
think that if the participants were not very fond of the instructor that they would want to hit them during the drills. My unofficial research shows that if the women are not comfortable with the instructor, they will not join in any of the physical drills. It might seem odd, but the more the women like the instructor, the more physical they will get. Now this doesn't mean that they aren't nervous during the drills, but rather they have the trust in the instructor to do the drills. It is a strange dynamic, but the groundwork to get people very physical is laid by the use of humour from the outset of the course. Because it is imperative that the self defense drills do take the person out of their comfort zone because real violence has you way out of your comfort zone. Also, with our courses, very often we are pinning them on the ground in some compromising postions. This is not possible if without the trust built up between the women and the instructor. Again, humour is a key reason.
4) Ability To Remember The Concepts Taught - just like anything you learn in your lifetime, if the experience is fun, then it is memorable. Nothing pleases me more than having people I have taught up to 20 years ago tell me they still remember something we taught, and it is almost always credited to the use of humour. In fact, we have received letters from people who have been in potential scenarios of violence who have avoided them, and they have credited the use of humour as to why they remembered. One of our high school clients was held up at knife point five years after our course, remembered our strategies and got home safely to her family. She credited it to the use of humour used when SAFE International taught her.
5) SAFE International Self Defense Parties - I can promise you that many in the self defense industry read, "Women's Self Defense Party", and feel it can't be a serious self defense course. Which would you rather participate in? A Rape Prevention Course, or a Self Defense Party? The material taught may be the same, but I can assure you that our clientele at least will look much more forward to the party concept as it implies fun will be had. Here is a little clip from a recent feature that Global TV did on our SAFE International Women's Self Defense Parties! Do they look like they are having fun?
BUT, AS I ALWAYS SAY, "I May Be Wrong About Using Humour!"
SAFE International has taught more than 180,000 women since 1994 and have set their goal to teach 500,000 by 2020! SAFE is a mobile self defense company that is adding certified partners internationally. Please visit our main site at www.safeinternational.biz for more info!