Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Ok, Prepare yourselves for one of my rants... :-)

There is a lot of junk 'self defence' taught out there, nobody reading this will find that to be new information. Some of it is plain comical and some of it is downright dangerous. After doing this job for so long I normally don't let it get to me when I see this stuff, I just focus on the good things I see and learn from them and aim to ignore the 'not helpful' stuff. But apparently today I must be experiencing a moment of weakness because I let what I just saw frustrate me.

I (and all of our instructors) tell every single person we train to feel free to challenge us on absolutely anything at all, and if they don't agree with us to let us know. There are no sacred cows with what we do, if we can't back up what we are teaching, really back it up, then we should not be teaching it. It is potentially people's lives at stake.

So when a mate of mine forwarded me a link of one of the 'top' self defense instructors in the USA teaching women's self defence (women's self defence is like the centre of the universe for bad advice in most cases) I expected to see quality information. A few things he said were smart and sound, and then I saw what he is teaching women to do against a potential rape...Drop onto the floor from a standing position and kick him. I kid you not. I thought about posting the link up but I think that is unprofessional so I have decided not to and this blog is more about the general problem of blindly following what we are told than this specific isolated (but not uncommon) instance.

What worried me more than the absolute rubbish advice, was that the willing group of participants seemed to be hanging on his every word and NO-ONE challenged him. No-one had a flash of common sense (or if they did they did not bring it up) and consider the real possible consequences of just this one piece of bad advice (there was more but I'll stay with this one as an example).

Drop on the ground voluntarily? Seriously? Come on, give me a break.

Yes, there are always exceptions to every rule, and yes the situation always dictates the response so there may be a time when dropping to the floor is the best option, but those times are few and far between, and to have it as the primary (or only, as in this case) option is more than just ludicrous, it is dangerous.

If I go into all of reasons why this advice is so bad I'll be writing all day, but just a couple of reasons, pre-assuming all of the behavioural, psychological, pre-contact stages have failed or were never available and a physical response is the only option, why would going to the floor on purpose for a physical response be a very dangerous thing to do?

1) That is where he probably wants you anyway. You just helped him achieve his purpose. It also gives him a physical and psychological advantage (at least in his mind).
2) You eliminate or greatly reduce your escape options. How are you supposed to get out of here, to run, to escape now? Do you really think that your kicking him in the legs, on its own, is likely to incapacitate him enough for you to stand and escape. Possible, yes. Probable, no.
3) You are now as far away as possible from the primary targets, you also reduce the grounding, distancing and torque available to you while standing if you are able to achieve a stunning strike/s to enable you to escape.
4) Your access to natural (improvised) weapons is greatly reduced.
5) His ability to stomp and kick you is maximised and the danger to you in that sense is extreme (worse still if multiple attackers). We teach to kick out at the opponent (among other things) if you are forced to the floor (thrown down, tripped, started there etc) but as a means to get back to your feet immediately! We don't want to go there volunarily to start with!
6) Try doing that on concrete by the way. Sure in reality you may have to if you end up there, but rolling around on gravel etc is not fun, it makes a mess. Environment plays a huge role.
7) Your access to your available 'tools' is now massively reduced, and his increases. This is potentially loading the dice in HIS favour and putting yourself in a real bad spot.

These are just a few of the reasons this advice is not good, there are more.

But what I want to stress is that if someone teaches you something about self defence, and they are doing it from the perspective of 'this is what you do in reality' as opposed to learning martial arts self defence etc, then think logically, ask questions, and challenge them. It is your life on the line. It is not a game. There is no way this instructor could back this up if any of our students or instructors had a debate with him on it, it would fail. It doesn't make friggin sense.

Rant over. I'll do my best to ignore the rubbish that is out there again, but just occasionally, like today, it gets to me.

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