If I Had 1 Month to Teach a Self-Defense Course…

My school is more of a fighting school. When I say “fighting”, I am talking about mutual combat–where you and another person are agreeing to fight–which is actually streetfighting. This is very different from “self-defense”, where you have NOT agreed to fight, but instead are forced to fight because someone is not giving you any other option. Martial arts teachers should differentiate the two; they are not the same.

I do have courses where I teach self-defense, and I conduct those classes much differently than my regular classes, where I have time to develop skills and physical ability. The mentality of the students are much different in each class as well. In the traditional FMA class, my students are a little tougher, and they are willing to endure a more grueling workout in the effort to become a dangerous person. In the self defense class, the students are thinking like victims, and I must change the way they think, as well as change how I impart knowledge and teach skill. For example, if I taught a muscle-head young man, I would teach fight strategy and how to read an opponent. But if I taught a woman rape defense, I would teach her how to momentarily stop her attacker in order to get to the knife in her purse or bra–and then sever her attacker’s jugular vein. There is a major difference. The more vulnerable the victim, the more lethal her options should be. The more equal the victim is to his attacker, the more neutralizing his weapons should be. Two 20 year olds fighting over a parking spot (which shouldn’t really be happening) could never justify killing his opponent, where a woman defending herself in her home at 2 a.m. would be more understandable.

So, I have been asked to develop a self-defense program for a company here in Sacramento. They were thinking an 8-course program, and the gentleman who contacted me wants my best advice for a realistic self-defense course for his clients that is unique. Smart man. He doesn’t want just another commando-Israeli-yuppie course. He wants something he would trust his own wife’s safety to, if money were no object.

I am not allowed to tell you who he is or who his clients are, but I’d like to share my ideas, which I will expound on later when I have already put the program together.

  1. Empty Hands–students must learn to use their hands and strike. It would be a disservice to just teach palm strikes and elbows because most people have soft hands. If you are really serious about fighting and doing damage, while generating and mulitplying one’s power–you must learn the importance of developing a fist. It does not take long to develop your fist and the fist is absolutely necessary to fighting. We always hear that you teach palm and chops first–which I agree–but no self defense program is complete if it simply dismisses the fist as something too advanced for novices. This would have to be covered, discussed, and trained through the entire program. Along with the hand techniques, we must cover use of the elbow, the knee, the stomp, and how to strike from your back, while in a hug, and how to strike while being struck.
  2. Impact weapons–how to strike with a shoe, a short stick or baton, a hammer (which can be stashed away in your car, your bedroom, in the living room, etc. And to hell with drills:  this is how to strike a temple or a clavicle. If he tries to block or grab your weapon, smash his hands or drop and smash his knee. Very basic strikes, and save the tap-tap drills for youtube clips and seminars.
  3. Bladed weapons–folders, spring-loaded knives, push knives (which I absolutely love!), kitchen knives, even machetes. Teach as much about them as possible, and know when to slash, when to stab, and when to use a reverse grip (when the opponent starts trying to grab the arm or knife, or when he is in really close quarters). This should also include learning where to cut/slash/stab
  4. Use of the Big Stick–the shovel, the broom handle, the baseball bat, the chair, the walking cane, the two-by-four… anything that will make even your toughest MMA fighter cry. No self-defense program can afford to ignore it. And if you’re a die-hard Arnis/Eskrima guy, Big Stick fighting will enhance your single stick eskrima like you wouldn’t believe. And for you doubters, I’m sure there isn’t an Eskrimador out there willing to try his hand against my baseball bat style technique, I hope.
  5. Concealed weapons–the brass knuckle, the pen knife, the push dagger, the ballpoint pen, pepper spray, the taser. You have to cover all of them.
  6. Handgun use–self explanatory. It’s more than just click, point and shoot. You have to learn how to use your hand gun without wasting bullets, or worse–getting it taken from you. I call this skill “Gun Fu”. 😉
  7. Vital areas on the body–more on this later
  8. Physical Fitness for self-defense
  9. How to deal with and talk to attackers… for Self defense

You know, I was thinking… maybe I should write a book on self defense. Real self defense. I have to go to Toys “R” Us; there will certainly be a “part II”. Thanks for visiting my blog.