How to Find a Good Self-Defense School
The purpose of all of my self-defense articles are to provide you with vital information that will enable you to protect yourself or loved ones from all forms of criminal violence. However, to be completely prepared for the threat and danger that lurks in the shadows, you must take it one step further and seek hands-on training from a qualified reality based self defense (RBSD) instructor.
WARNING: You must be very cautious when choosing a martial art or self defense school; they don’t all have the same objective.
Here are some important points to consider before selecting a reality based self defense (RBSD) school.
First, stay away from traditional martial art studios as well as mixed martial arts (MMA) schools. For example, if you see a particular karate school claiming to teach self defense or rape prevention, look elsewhere! The instructor is nothing more than a charlatan trying to cash in on the increasing popularity of personal protection. A sensei (karate teacher) or sifu (kung-fu instructor) is no more qualified to teach you real world self defense than a ballet teacher or fitness trainer.
The bottom line is that traditional martial arts have absolutely nothing to do with serious self defense training. Also, avoid mixed martial art schools (MMA) that are geared toward combat sport competition. The truth is mixed martial arts are created and designed exclusively for sport competition and not self defense scenarios. Period!
“A sensei or sifu is no more qualified to teach you real world self defense than a ballet teacher or fitness trainer.”
Next, don’t select a school because of its geographical proximity. You must always choose the school that best suits your needs. Don’t let your laziness force you to sacrifice quality personal protection instruction. Also, don’t choose a school because of its aesthetics. Just because a particular studio has a juice bar or fancy equipment doesn’t guarantee quality instruction. Ironically, some of the best self defense instruction can be provided in garages, basements, school gymnasiums, public parks, and college campuses. Remember that you’re paying for knowledge, not aesthetics.
Obviously, finding a good reality based self defense school won’t be easy, so plan on devoting some time to the task. You might try looking in the yellow pages or asking a friend if he or she knows of any reputable places. Or you may consider calling your local police department, rape crisis center, or YMCA for some suggestions. Universities and community colleges can sometimes be good places to look for quality self defense instruction. With patience, research, and some common sense, you’ll find a good one.
When you do visit a school, be certain to watch a few of the classes. Evaluate what you see before making a choice. Consider the following questions: Is the environment conducive to learning? Does the instructor present the information in a logical manner? Is the material easily understood? Is the class intellectually stimulating and physically demanding? Are the training drills practical and realistic? Are the skills and techniques uncomplicated? Do the students seem receptive? After the class is over, ask a few students if they are satisfied with the classes.
Make certain the school is strictly devoted to the art and science of real world self defense. It should also be eclectic, drawing from such fields as martial science, criminal justice, military and police science, psychology, sociology, conflict management, histrionics, physics, kinesics, anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and emergency medicine. While the physical techniques are derived from various martial arts, make sure that all skills are predicated on efficiency, effectiveness, and safety. Anything less can be disastrous.
Factors to consider before selecting a RBSD school
1. What is the cost? Can you live with the financial terms?
2. Are private or semiprivate lessons offered?
3. Are questions permitted during class?
4. Are crime prevention/awareness lectures provided on a regular basis?
5. Does the school stress range proficiency?
6. Does the school emphasize the legal ramifications of self-defense?
7. Does the school discriminate against women studying self-defense?
8. Are “simulated assaults” a regular part of the training curriculum?
9. Are children and adults taught together in the same class?
10. Are rape prevention classes provided?
11. Are stranger-awareness classes offered to children and youngsters?
12. Is weapon instruction (firearms, knives, impact tools, OC sprays, etc.) offered?
13. Are books, training manuals, or dvds available to the students?
14. How many times per week can you attend class?
You must also consider the instructor’s qualifications and experience. Since there is no standardized requirement for teaching civilian self defense, you’re going to have to find out as much as you can about the instructor. Don’t hesitate to ask a few questions about his background and credentials. If he’s legitimate he will understand your concern.
1. How long has the instructor been studying self-defense?
2. How long has the instructor been teaching self-defense?
3. Exactly which aspects of self defense is the instructor qualified to teach?
4. What agency, institution, or person certified the instructor?
5. Is the instructor well known (locally or nationally) for his or her expertise?
6. Is the instructor articulate and knowledgeable about criminal violence?
7. Does the instructor practice what he or she preaches?
8. Is the instructor a published author?
9. Does the instructor teach law enforcement agencies?
10. Does the instructor teach self defense for a living? Or is it a part-time job?
11. Does the instructor have a background in criminology or criminal justice?
12. Does the instructor project a professional image?
13. Does the instructor answer all of your questions?
14. Does the instructor’s attitude show patience and respect toward his students?
1. Does the instructor seem genuinely concerned about your needs, or is he shoving a contract in your face?
“Since there is no standardized requirement for teaching civilian self defense, you’re going to have to find out as much as you can about the instructor. Don’t hesitate to ask a few questions about his background and credentials.”
Enrolling in a good RBSD school is a worthwhile investment. Along with learning life-saving skills, you’ll also acquire a variety of other personal attributes such as physical fitness, personal empowerment, and self-discipline. Mind-body-spirit unification, self-confidence, and emotional control are also common residuals of serious instruction. But most importantly, with good self defense training you will acquire a renewed appreciation of life.
I wish you luck in your search!
Founder & President
Contemporary Fighting Arts
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