If there's one thing people in the self defense and martial arts communities like to do, it's argue! Go into five schools and you might get five different reasons why the school you're in is the best choice, and all the other ones are lousy. But if you're not there to learn to be Bruce Lee or win the UFC, what should you look for in a self defense program, including the ones offered in out instructional fighting videos? Think of five criteria:
The Techniques are Easy to Remember
Effective self defense requires split second actions under stress. Under the influence of adrenalin you'll experience tunnel vision, nausea, numbness and gross motor deficits. You won't be in any shape to remember a 20-step move to protect yourself from a specific attack. Good programs teach simple techniques that can be used in many different situations instead, and drill them until they become second nature.
The Techniques Don't Require Athletic Ability
No self defense technique should require you to kick somebody in the head . . . unless the guy is already on his knees. You won't have a chance to warm up when you're attacked. That's why every technique should work properly in your body's natural range of motion. They should also work even if you don't do them 100% perfectly, so if they tell you to kick a weapon out of a guy's hand, turn around and leave!
The School Addresses Weapons and Self Defense Products
Combat sports are great . . . but they're not total self defense. On the street, someone might attack with a gun, knife or club, or you might be prepared with self defense products such as pepper spray or a C2 Taser gun. The school should be able to teach you to defend against weapons and use self-defense products along with other physical techniques.
The School Addresses Standing Up and Grappling on the Ground
The UFC and mixed martial arts (MMA) may not be what the average person is looking for when it comes to self-defense but it does pass along a powerful lesson: You need to know how to deal with grabs, holds and chokes, both standing up and on the ground. A self-defense program should address the basics of how to fall, deal with being taken down, and escaping grabs.
You Learn to Deal With Stress, Force and Resistance
A self-defense program is only effective when you can apply what you learn in a stressful situation against someone trying to keep you from defending yourself! You don't necessarily need to get into MMA fights, but you should have an opportunity to hit full force and practice on a resisting partner. Some good schools have an instructor “suit up” in body armor and provide resistance while you respond with full power attacks. In some schools, you may even have ways to try self defense products under stress, with simulated versions or against someone armored against them.
These guidelines should lead you to a self defense program that will work for you. From there you might want to get into combat sports or fancy martial arts, but you'll start with effective self defense.