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Qualifications of self-defense?
#1
Many martial arts tout the teaching label of 'self-defense'.  Okay, what qualifies that martial art to make that claim?  How do the instructors know what is self defense and what is not self defense?  Are they qualified to make that assessment?  

Your thoughts...
Two thousand years ago wise men sought Christ, wise men still do.

Techniques are situational, principles are universal.

Fast as the wind, quiet as the forest, aggressive as fire, and immovable as a mountain.

He who gets there first with the most...wins!

Minimal force may not be minimum force!

We don't rise to the occasion...we sink to the level of our training.


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#2
(11-24-2015, 04:52 PM)Kong Soo Do Wrote: Many martial arts tout the teaching label of 'self-defense'.  Okay, what qualifies that martial art to make that claim?  How do the instructors know what is self defense and what is not self defense?  Are they qualified to make that assessment?  

Your thoughts...

I think if you asked any martial art students or instructors they would agree that they are learning self defence. In fact if you really wanted to be a pedant no schools teach self defence because technically 'self defence' is a legal justification of the use of force to defend yourself or others. Learning to use force to protect yourself from physical danger is another thing completely. Most schools, if they include sparring, are teaching consensual fighting, again a different style of fighting to that required to defend yourself in a situation where you are being attacked.

I would suggest that what I teach would be classed under what is understood to be 'self defence', because a lot of self protection involves talking about scenarios and discussing how you would react in a particular situation so you could get away without actually engaging. Almost all the actual fighting we do involves one person attacking another, not as a trained martial artist might attack, but as a person who might be belligerent, as in road rage, or drunk or on drugs.

So to return to the OP, I don't know of any qualification available that is recognised legally to teach self defence. I think that the answer at the end of the day is, if your training has kept you out of trouble for years then you have been trained well in self defence. If you can boast that you have had dozens of fights on the streets and in pubs then I would suggest you know nothing of self defence. When anyone tells me they would like to learn self defence, I ask them how many fights they have been involved in? They invariably say none to which I reply, "then you have never lost a fight so you have been doing a great job of practising self defence already".
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#3
Another way to look at it would be if the individual has ever needed to use any aspect of the art for self-defense?  If not, did their instructor or anyone in the lineage?  In this way one could begin to see if 'X' techniques, principle or strategy was effective against an actual violent, resisting attacker(s) in a non-sterile and uncontrolled environment.  Or just as importantly, what wasn't useable.

There is something to be said for teaching/learning from experience rather than theory.  And that isn't to suggest going out and gaining experience through seeking conflict.
Two thousand years ago wise men sought Christ, wise men still do.

Techniques are situational, principles are universal.

Fast as the wind, quiet as the forest, aggressive as fire, and immovable as a mountain.

He who gets there first with the most...wins!

Minimal force may not be minimum force!

We don't rise to the occasion...we sink to the level of our training.


Reply
#4
Aside from the aspect of awareness, which actually most people, even trained people, don't practice, SD is the programming of not fighting, but rather dispatching the threat post haste. Folks always use the term fight, with their descriptions of SD and it's understandable for lack of a better adjective to describe what's happening. A fight turns into mutual combat, which real SD openly should avoid at all costs. Now stating this, the techniques and more importantly, the mindset must undergo a radical transformation. Depending upon the severity of what one is confronted with, there is a condensed use of force continuum. Unlike the generalized use of force that most people associate with, which usually has 5 or 6 steps, SD is / should be reduced to a 3 step approach. Step 1) Run if possible, Step 2) Hurt the attacker, so a further attack cannot happen, Step 3) More than 1 attacker or if a weapon is in play, maim or kill, for if you don't, rest assured you'll be the one in today's world, probably maimed or killed. Now this approach, admittedly is not every one's cup of tea and the vast majority of people, even those that train, don't have the stomach for such an approach, but that should not deter it being taught or at the very least, openly reviewed by those training. I realize that the VAST majority of people training will not, thankfully, engage in such an encounter, but that 1 in a 1,000 or 1 in 100,000 or what every the number may be, when it should happen and that 1 subconsciously engages what was taught and extracts themselves from that situation, then it was not a wasted endeavor and he / she now goes home to family and friends.
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#5
I think that we are getting off the main track of 'self defence'. To me self defence is the art of not fighting. So we start with awareness and the avoidance of areas that are known for potentially being dangerous. Then we can look at avoidance of groups of people who may cause trouble. Next on the list would be de-escalation which might be something like road rage or maybe knocking into someone in a pub or club. Here we may be simply apologising or moving away. So far we have covered probably 90% of self defence situations.

We could then move in to the more violent situation. Firstly we could be present when someone is shouting and yelling which is very confronting. Again, you might be simply able to leave or you may be able to talk the person down. That, I would suggest takes us up to at least 95% of self defence situations, probably more.

Let's look at the last 5% of confrontations. With CCTV so common these days you can't always just hit someone without good reason, or you might be at a social event where one guy is causing trouble. Here is where good training kicks in. I teach techniques that are minimalist in nature in that your hand positions and body positioning puts you in an advantageous position to de-escalate the conflict. Only when all the forgoing have failed should you have to physically fight.

In the unlikely event you have to fight then any training should help, whether it be sport based or reality based, but obviously those who train specifically for this type of altercation would have best tools.
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#6
This has been covered well- self-defense and martial arts are two different animals. Martial arts generally provide numerous benefits but realistic self-defense and personal safety isn't always one of them. Realistic self-defense is about self-preservation, doing those things that will lead one to avoid the altercation altogether. This is includes developing the appropriate mind-set, increasing awareness, addressing use-of-force and legalities, addressing physiological and psychological aspects of violence, simple methods of escape / evasion, understanding verbal de-escalation, last-ditch physical skills (those that have been shown to offer the highest rate of success during real situations), etc. Unfortunately, the majority of these things are often neglected in traditional and semi-traditional martial arts. The emphasis is typically on physical skills and unfortunately many of those skills do not represent those high-success skills previously mentioned.

In regards to any training being helpful or more commonly spouted "some training is better than none"- that actually isn't the case. If the training received contradicts intuitive responses to violence it can actually be detrimental to a persons survival, more so than not having any training at all.

Some examples- a young boy was taught to "never talk to strangers". he was conditioned to believe that "strangers" were bad and would do him harm. This boy then got separated in the wilderness while on a Boy Scout camping trip. Rescuers searched for days. Eventually the boy was finally discovered and luckily was alive. The boy then proceeded to tell his parents that several times over a period of days he saw rescuers pass him but he was afraid to expose himself because he was taught to "never talk to strangers". Another case- a law enforcement officer was heavy into Brazilian JuJitsu. During a physical altercation with an assailant he reverts to BJJ sport-based grappling and attempts to tap out the assailant, he completely forgets the fact that he is wearing a sidearm and does nothing to protect it. During the struggle and chaos while the officer attempts to choke the assailant unconscious the assailant is able to freely pull the officer's gun from the holster, aim it over his shoulder and shoot the officer in the head killing him instantly.

These are just two examples of how "some training" is NOT better than no training at all. Many people have successfully survived violence without any training whatsoever and did so because they had the appropriate mind-set combined with a deep-seated instinct to survive. No amount of traditional, semi-traditional, or antiquated training can replace that. However, it can unfortunately create internal conflict and hesitation (log jam) and be detrimental to ones survival.

This is why I firmly believe that anyone wanting to teach "self-defense" needs to have more than just a background in martial arts, law enforcement, or military experience. Even those that have survived violence are not automatically qualified to teach self-defense. It requires extensive and specialized training and a study of violence as it occurs outside the comforts of a controlled training environment.

Steve
"Personal safety is a way of life, not just a hobby!" ~Steve Zorn
Personal Safety Unlimited
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#7
We're on the same sheet of music Steve.  I detailed my thoughts in this thread:

Link
Two thousand years ago wise men sought Christ, wise men still do.

Techniques are situational, principles are universal.

Fast as the wind, quiet as the forest, aggressive as fire, and immovable as a mountain.

He who gets there first with the most...wins!

Minimal force may not be minimum force!

We don't rise to the occasion...we sink to the level of our training.


Reply
#8
This is why I firmly believe that anyone wanting to teach "self-defense" needs to have more than just a background in martial arts, law enforcement, or military experience

OK, not all martial arts instructors may be qualified, but for those in LE and Military and Instructors who have been in harms way (in other words, been there - done that), who else can be that qualified to teach SD? Unless a person who has walked the walk, as opposed to just read a lot about the subject or thinks they know, then that person is just dealing with what if's and could be's. So the real question is..........where does someone get this "self defense" background you elude to?

As for the examples you offered, the officer that went into sport JJ mode, that only reinforces the position that sport training is/can be very detrimental to a real SD situation and why many if not all PD's have deterred their officers from that training aspect. I'm sure Dave can validate that positioning. As for the lost child being taught the "stranger danger", he/she was not taught correctly. We always were taught and teach that firemen, police officers, mailmen, park rangers, those in uniform that we see everyday are safe venues to go to. Needless to say, this kid was not taught correctly.
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#9
(03-10-2016, 05:37 PM)sidekick Wrote: OK, not all martial arts instructors may be qualified, but for those in LE and Military and Instructors who have been in harms way (in other words, been there - done that), who else can be that qualified to teach SD? Unless a person who has walked the walk, as opposed to just read a lot about the subject or thinks they know, then that person is just dealing with what if's and could be's.

As we all know experience doesn't automatically qualify anyone as an expert on the subject. Even when someone is "experienced" that experience is specific to certain environments or situations. Examples- a solider has experience neutralizing enemy threats via a sniper rifle. Sure, he has real life experience in war and the unfortunate experience taking human life but how would this qualify him to teach women how to avoid or escape a sexual predator? A police officer finds himself facing the unfortunate experience of being shot in the line of duty by an 11 year old during a gang initiation. How does this qualify him to teach unarmed defense to average citizens? I could go on and on. A police officer facing one lethal force event in his career isn't automatically qualified to teach any aspect of self-defense that isn't related specifically to that one event. Even when an officer has "experience" in cases like this it doesn't mean that the options the officer chose to employ were the best or most ideal options under those circumstances. As an example- I "survived" a knife assault as a teenager. However, it wasn't because of my knowledge or skills, it was simply because the assailant chose not to injure or kill me. Did that automatically qualify me as a knife defense expert? Not even close...

The fact is that law enforcement officers and soldiers are forced to face different types of threats than the average citizen. Police are required to engage potentially dangerous subjects as a part of their everyday job. In most cases they are required to capture and contain those subjects rather than just run away or defend themselves prior to running away. These officers take their jobs with a solid understanding of what they may be forced to face at any given moment on the job. This is essentially the same for soldiers. Citizens on the other hand are generally reluctant defenders. While some may understand that they may someday be forced to protect themselves, but most truly believe they will never have to. Also, law enforcement and military personnel have numerous options that are not always available to citizens, such as numerous weapons and back-up.  

Quote:As for the examples you offered, the officer that went into sport JJ mode, that only reinforces the position that sport training is/can be very detrimental to a real SD situation and why many if not all PD's have deterred their officers from that training aspect. I'm sure Dave can validate that positioning.

I agree with you here but unfortunately improper training is one of my points. I have trained police officers from around the world and can tell you that many of them continue to train in and believe that traditional and sport-based martial arts like BJJ are applicable to their jobs. Many of these officers continue to teach this nonsense to those in their departments, many of whom are rookie officers that don't know any better. As we know, BJJ and sport-based martial arts are a huge part of military training to this day. Soldiers being trained to attempt to out-grapple an enemy soldier simply contradicts logic but yet it continues to be taught.


Quote:As for the lost child being taught the "stranger danger", he/she was not taught correctly. We always were taught and teach that firemen, police officers, mailmen, park rangers, those in uniform that we see everyday are safe venues to go to. Needless to say, this kid was not taught correctly.

As we know "strangers" are no more dangerous than those we know and statistically children are targeted by those known to them. Yet, children continue to be taught the antiquated theory of "stranger-danger" and unfortunately this continues in police departments right here in my own town as well as those around the country. Again, just one more reason that police officers are not qualified to teach personal safety to civilians, especially children.

Quote:So the real question is..........where does someone get this "self defense" background you elude to?

Thanks to modern technology we have access to unlimited statistical data, CCTV footage, media reports and articles all related to this subject from around the world. We also have opportunities to learn from other peoples experiences, both those that survived and those that unfortunately didn't. We have almost immediate access to instructors from around the world that have dramatically improved the training and teaching of self-defense to specialized demographics (children, teens, police, military, etc.). We have the ability to take all of this valuable information and work it through various scenarios and literally pressure-test and assess EVERYTHING that we train and teach under the guise of "self-defense". If an instructor isn't sure whether a skill is applicable to a certain demographic or a specific situations, it's as simple as confirming the data. If there is no data it's as simple as pressure-testing it. Due to this fact there is absolutely no reason for anyone today to be teaching nonsense and calling it "self-defense". There is no reason that police officers or soldiers can't be better trained before trying to enter the civilian market with their programs.

Steve
"Personal safety is a way of life, not just a hobby!" ~Steve Zorn
Personal Safety Unlimited
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#10
"Citizens on the other hand are generally reluctant defenders. While some may understand that they may someday be forced to protect themselves, but most truly believe they will never have to"

Here in lies the problem of why SD can be difficult to teach, regardless of who is teaching and from where all their information is gleaned from. All the rhetoric and informational data and specific scenarios won't imprint, without the proper mindset and sadly, many if not most just don't or won't accept that needed aspect. Now not to nit pick, but the sniper analogy also comes with a lot more personal safeguards for personal safety. He must be vigilant, totally aware of the surroundings, stealth as to not draw attention and so on. All these attributes fall within the guidelines of practical SD. Police on the other hand, may not physically encounter a particular threat or attack, but they see the aftermath. This is or should be one of the data points you suggest and who better to offer a critique.

We're most likely very much on the same page when discussing SD, just coming from different positioning.
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