There are some really bad self-defence instructors out there. People that really think they are good at what they teach but it is pretty disgraceful that they can get away with teaching such rubbish.
1. Self-Defence Is Easy
I hear and see this all the time. Instructors who think that if you grab here and touch there and then the opponent will fall to the floor and they tell students that
Please get a grip.....
Picture this, you are walking home one night after work and you see a group of lads by the corner of the park. You have to walk through the park to get to your house and one young
You, of course, say no and try and push past at which he hits you hard in the face. Your nose is bleeding and you get into your stance and then boom!! You get double legged and taken to the floor in a
You never bothered learning the ground game because your self-defence instructor says "never go to the ground", this guy quickly sits on your chest and you get punched in the nose.
Dazed and in pain you remember the drill you did once in class, grab here and twist and he will fall off
Fighting is really f##king hard!!Trust me there is no such thing as an easy fight. Those that say there are easy fights simply haven't been up against enough people. If your training is easy it won't work. If your training always has you winning, it won't work.
I am not talking about awareness
At 5 in the morning when your car alarm goes off and you get up to find 3 lads breaking into your car and you tell them to stop and they say "pi## off
2. Never Go To The Ground
I love this one. Its the get out saying of an instructor who can't grapple.
I hear it all the time "never go to the ground because their mates can join in".
So you are out and a guy has an issue with you. He hits you hard in the face and you punch him back, he lands 2 or 3 times and your really dazed. He hits hard and fast and is clearly a better puncher.
What are you going to do? Stand there and get beaten?
But what if some really strong guy stands there and outweighs you, and is bigger than you? What then? are you going to trade punches with a person who has 20 kilos weight advantage over you?
I have been to the ground lots of times because it made sense. Very often I would have lost if I had traded punches with someone.
Going to the ground should be a tactical decision, if it makes sense for the circumstances do it, if not don't. There is and should never be this blanket rule of "never go to the ground unless you have no choice"
You need to consider all the options of a situation, if you start adding these barriers to your performance such as"don't do this, don't do that" you will be reducing your own ability even before the fight occurs.
Here's what to do......
Train your groundwork in short bursts. Take down to a quick finish and get back up to a protective position but please do not fail to plan for the times that going to the ground makes sense!
3. You Do Not Need To Be Fit For Self Defence
This is my favourite lie. No one is saying that you need to have a six pack and defined biceps to be good at
I have chronic exercise-induced asthma where my lungs reduce in performance by 20% in just 3 minutes, but I still need to be as fit as I can be.
If you have a bad back, leg or anything else you need to still be as fit as you can if you are taking
Do you think doing any of those things is easy? Nope they arent.
So if running away from an attacker is something you teach, well how many sprints do you make your students do each session?
4. Awareness Will help You Avoid Most Incidents
This annoys me Instructors that preach awareness but haven't got a clue how to teach it.
Awareness on it's own is useless. Awareness combined with ACTION is key!
Half of the instructors out there either rely on the outdated coopers colour codes to make their life easier, or they just say, "you have got to be aware".
So how do you teach this?
You need to create detailed scenarios and add them to your class. Put them at the end as part of your cool down but make sure you do them. Perhaps it is the bar situation where you role play a guy having issues with a person, make sure that you show the students where they could have walked out of the pub to avoid an issue, or perhaps spoke to door staff and made them aware, then if they didn't do it right the first time make them go through the scenario again. It is about creating links in the minds of the student so they act on their awareness.
Just telling people that if they are aware then they will be ok is the worst of lies. You need to teach awareness and not just talk about it!
Sport Martial Arts Don't Work on The Street!
Yeah I hear this a lot. Boxing, Judo, BJJ and such like are sports and won't help you on the street.
Who makes this up?? Seriously!
This requires effort! You should be able to fight standing, on the ground and vertical grapple.This is why being good at
I would never worry about a boxer being able to handle themselves but I would worry about some people I see teaching self-defence, let alone training it.
6. You Don't Need Much Knowledge of the Law
Another classic this one.
Instructors telling students that they do not need to know the law is a key sign that they do not know their stuff.
After 17 years in the police I would still hire a solicitor because they have 'expert' knowledge!
Now I am not saying that
I have been reading a lot from Mark Dawes lately. He is an expert in self-defence and puts on some amazing courses. Do yourself a favour and check out his blog!
My point is this,
An example of this is pre emptive strikes
The idea is very simple. The law does not make you to wait to be attacked, you can hit them first.
You need to be able to articulate and defend your use of a pre-emptive strike because you have actually assaulted someone. That might mean you have to defend your actions in court too!
This goes alongside the legal aspect. If your instructor is teaching pre-emptive strikes but failing to teach you the legal aspects that go along with this type of training then they are teaching you to hit people and not defend yourself.
Picture this; You are in a club and a guy is staring at you, he looks angry and he walks over to you with his fists clenched and says "Have you got a problem mate". You are worried he is going to hit you. Do you hit first? Push him back and say "get away", turn your back and walk away? or perhaps you let him continue talking?
There is no easy answer because each one brings a consequence but that is self-defence for you. Could you justify using a pre emptive strike? If you are not sure either way I think you definately could use with more training.
7. Knife Defence: Just Do
This,Then This ...... Blah Blah Blah
Here is my serious complaint. Instructors who talk about knife defence as if they had experience in it when the closest they have come to a knife situation is watching Game of Thrones
I get it. People stab other people. It happens a lot but please please stop showing knife defence tactics like you are a Navy Seal!
2 things happen when a knife is pulled on you:
First: You crap your pants
Second: You heart jumps out of your chest.
Anyone says any different, they are telling lies or have ego issues!
For some reason instructors are dead set on treating knife defence as if they are buttering toast, this is serious stuff!! If you teach Knife defence do yourself a favour and go and get one of those no lie blades or shock knives. That way you can see just how easily you would have been hurt!
Now you might not like this post, I expect lots of people to moan, but the bottom line is that there are so many
Until next time.
Anfrew, thanks a lot for a great article. ISince I want my students to read this, I translated it into Dutch to post on our website (with a link to the original of course). I hope you don’t mind. If so please let me know and I’ll remove it right away. The translated article can be founf here: https://www.katsudokenpo.nl/3296-2/
Hi Marcel, thanks for the kind words and yes I have no issues with anyone translating the articles as long as I get a link back to the original and credit. Really pleased you have taken the time to do this, many thanks.
Good article. Honest and to the point.
Glad you liked it Rich. I am on a mission to sort out the self defence instructors who need to be sent packing from the industry
Yes, knowledge is power. Benny the Jet said, he trained 9 hours a day and 6 days a week preparing for his fights. Never have I trained with a more hardened skilful fighter ( 1981)
Its true training hard is what brings skill!! Thanks for the comment
Good article…then it ends with a “no time learn at home krav maga” advertising…I think this is the HUGE lie on these days.
Hi Rodrigo, heres the thing, I out that ad in because it helps support the site. Do I think Krav can be learned at home , certainly not but I do think that online programs are great to enhance knowledge. People can train at home and get good, really good but it no replacement for classes
Enjoyed reading Andrew, I actually feel better about what we do. Just a small bunch of us who train together, we have a long way to go but we address most of the above. I always get nervous when I read a title like this!
Wow, thanks for the great feedback Paul. Yes the titles do make people nervous but people teaching honestly and with the right intention are usually doing a great job
Excellent article. I have been promoting an ‘in the real world’ pedagogy with my students, both in the psychology/philosophy and the response techniques areas of instruction.
I have, through very real experience, long realised the difference between how one responds/reacts physically and mentally in a ‘no duff’ incident, as opposed to in the cocoon of the training area. So, in mind of this, for example, I conduct a good deal of my training in out door locations, (parks, woodland tracks, alley ways etc) as well confined spaces (to simulate lifts/star Wells etc)
once again, excellent article, and a message to be spread and adhered to by true professional instructors.
Thanks ‘G’. Firstly what a great comment and thanks for the kind words. And you are so right!! Big difference between training and reality
Agree. So much that i will share. I am a self defense teacher and still got so much to learn.
Reading your article was a way to verify that my concepts and ideas are correct. I still add another one to your list if I may. Those who say always avoid.If you can’t avoid, cooperate. Its the best choice, don’t get yourself killed by a few bucks. Ok, i get it. And say it too. But we have to complement with: sometimes you can’t avoid. If you are at the door of your home and your kids and wife are inside you will not cooperate, you will not let someone in. Very good article. I confess that I was unaware, or giving little importance to lie n. six. I will give it more attention from now on. Always learning.Best regards from Portugal
Carlos, great comments and thanks for dropping by and reading the article. Hope you are well.
Excellent article and I hope I am not often guilty of making any of these mistakes. I certainly try not to be.
I would add that context is very important too. The three basic contexts are:
1. Not your problem, your only priority is to get yourself out of the situation as unharmed as possible.
2. Defending space, property and/or another person
3. It is your responsibility to control another person’s behaviour because you have some role of authority.
I teach my students to make a realistic assessment of their actual role in any given situation and we train to act accordingly.
For example if in role two then the emphasis must be on keeping an assailant behind a chosen threshold. This requires certain actions and not others. If the defender of a doorway then decides to step out into the street and ‘teach the assailant a lesson’ the situation can go wrong very quickly.
I am sure you are fully aware of this but 7 topics was quite enough for this post.
Hi Graham, yesI totally agree the list could go on and on and on. Thanks for taking the time to comment
Just interested you say “outdated coopers colour codes” – why outdated?
Hi Robert, thanks for the comment. OK so here it goes. Coopers Colour codes takes in zero current scientific knowledge of how the mind really works.
It is not based on science but for a number of factors it became the mantra of the military and then the police. Everyone takes it as gospel and many attribute surviving situations by using it. However it kind of fails to consider modern science. I have a full article here you might like to read
Good and honest article. Many thanks Andrew.
Thanks Paul for taking the time to comment, really appreciate it
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