How crucial is the knowledge of the instructor when training for real life violence?

Discussion in 'General Self Defense' started by elwin, Mar 2, 2011.

  1. elwin

    elwin Yellow Belt

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    A few years ago, I had the tragic experience of losing one of our top students in our Karate class. He was stabbed through the head and the knife broke off in his skull. He was not just one of our normal students, he was also one of the assistant instructors of the class and when he needed his skills the most, it failed him.

    Numerous times have I heard of top martial arts practitioners being seriously hurt or even killed in a real fight, but the times when they stepped in the ring under controlled environments they were brilliant.

    These were some of the reasons I stopped doing karate back then and started focusing on techniques that would actually be effective in real life. I also started to research and study all the factors involved in real world violence and had the chance to apply what I have trained myself to do during actual fights (back when I was still a bit reckless and before I met my wife).

    When I hear stories like that I can't help but think; besides factors that could've been beyond his control, what exactly was he being taught in training.

    What do you guys say about this?
     
  2. Never_A_Reflection

    Never_A_Reflection Blue Belt

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    He could be taught the best knife defense techniques known to man and he could still get stabbed in the head. If your timing is off or your attacker is strong enough to blast through your defenses then there isn't much that you can do. Sure, you can train for both of those scenarios but nothing is foolproof--the people who do "realistic self defense" can be just as susceptible as people who do "traditional martial arts" because of that. If they are too fast, if they are too strong, if you don't see them coming, if the knife is much longer than you trained with, if they actually know how to use a knife (very short, slashing movements so you can't catch the hand or knife), etc. There are way too many variables for anyone to truly be able to say that they have trained for all of them and that if they were attacked they would be successful in defending their life.
     
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  3. Supra Vijai

    Supra Vijai Black Belt

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    That's a terrible loss, sorry to hear that! I agree with the previous reply but in response to the title of the thread, I'd say fairly important. You can't teach something you don't know. At least not well. I'm not saying all instructors need to have been in street fights or assaults in order to teach but they do need a solid understanding of how real world violence works as well as a basic understanding of local laws. It's all well and good to teach students to use deadly force but a brief overview of the context and situational appropriate-ness (I know that's not a real word) can only help as well. Also establish very early on that MA and SD are 2 very seperate things. Training in one isn't automatically training you in the other.
     
  4. Bruno@MT

    Bruno@MT Senior Master

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    First of all, MA != self defense. Unless you train for the purpose of self defense, any training at all is also going to give you blind spots and false assumptions. One of those assumptions for example is that the other guy has no knife. If you start grappling and the other guy gets a knife out, then you're dead.

    Second, the other guy with the knife could also have had training, AND experience in using a knife. In that case, the odds are heavily stacked against you as well.

    Third, in class, noone is trying to kill you. Being calm and confident in class in one thing. being calm and confident if you know that the other guys is actually trying to kill you is a whole different concept.

    This is why, if you are interested in self defense, you'll have to train for self defense. Just practicing MA in itself is not enough. And finally, sometimes **** just happens and the other guy gets in a lucky shot (stab) and you are dead, no matter how well trained you are.
     
  5. Apatride

    Apatride White Belt

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    Real self defense seminars are usually eye opening for those who trained MA thinking it could be used for self defense.
    The problem is that some people don t have the chance to discover the flaws and gaps in a seminar and learn this the hard way by getting stabbed/stomped to death.
    I even remember questioning a technique related to a knife attack during a training and having the instructor cheating to pretend that the technique was effective (2 hands grab of the forearm where the knife is, I was pointing out that it leaves you open for a punch to the face and he pretended that he could not reach my face when we did this technique together (strangely, he decided not to try to apply the technique on me and risk a punch to the face, he asked me to apply the technique on him...))
    This kind of lies are criminal and can get the student killed if he thinks that the response to a knife threat is something else than "RUN!!!!"

    Another problem is the fact that lots of guys ignore the laws (on purpose?). The same instructor told me to hold my hands high as if I was surrendering and then go for an eye gouge. The scenario was an empty hands attack... Sure, I have chances to win the fight and I am sure I will learn a lot about fighting during the time I will spend in the prison showers...

    Should an instructor have experience in SD ? Yes, it would be useful but the only thing that really matters is that the instructor goal is to keep you safe. If he teaches you how to win the fight, this is not SD, this is BS.

    Needless to say, I do not train with him anymore.
     
  6. terryl965

    terryl965 <center><font size="2"><B>Martial Talk Ultimate<BR

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    Well lets be honest here for a moment. real street stituation who really have had this very few. Getting ina fight in high school is not real world, going off to war is not real world, most military know never have hand to hand encounters like the old days. I am not knocking the military but I am being brutal honest here.

    Next thing only one percent of all people ever have a real life stituation even those that teach real life techniques are just role playing because every encounter is different. What is tought is a action and re-action method to hopefully get you from freezing up if it ever happens.

    I have been to many real life seminars and have found the instruction to be at best mediocre in the manner of what is tought, sure knock somone down and jump on top of themand pound the living crap out of them with brutal forcew and I will watch you be hauled off to jail. You cannot put someone onthe ground and keep beating the crap out of them just because they jumped you, you must keep control and secure them until policearrive.


    Last thing is this so many of these so called expert on real life self defense have never truely been in any real life stituation.
     
  7. Supra Vijai

    Supra Vijai Black Belt

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    Our entire strategy for our street section is covered in 3 simple words: Get. Home. Safe.

    Do just what you need to in order to achieve that, no more, no less. Running away is ideal but for the times when you can't escape as effectively or when you're caught by surprise we train basic gross motor defences and survival tactics in order to buy enough time to... run away :p Staying there to fight will get you killed if the attacker is half committed to the assault. We're doing knife work at the moment in class and one of the first things we got told is that even if you manage to stab the other person and hit/cut an artery, there is still a few seconds of fight left in the other guy before he blacks out or bleeds out and those few seconds are enough to cost you your life.
     
  8. Zero

    Zero Master Black Belt

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    First off, bad news on the loss of your mate/fellow karateka, even if it was a long time ago.

    I believe that first hand experience in what ever types of situation you are training for are almost essential with respect to your trainer/sensei. If it is self defence, then you want someone who is used to the levels of violence in such a confrontation and the speed that these scenarios can come at you. A martial artist who is a LEO or the like and has first hand experience generally has more credence than someone who is teaching theoretically great, but untested, techniques. Furthermore, such trainers will hopefully be able to impart not only the physical skill sets but also the mental ones, such as situational awareness, reading threat/aggression levels, de-escalation, scoping out a club/bar or whatever when you enter, checking your back when you unlock your car/house - all these other little but vital things that can be more effective than actually being able to throw a good technique.

    That said, I am sure there are many good martial artists and SD instructors who for whatever reason have never needed to be in these violent, live situations - and more kudos to them and who can blame them for that? However, the training I have received which has been more focused on SD and street applications that I have found most impressive is that coming from a sensei who was a police officer for years and did some pretty hard front line work and also time in the cells keeping crooks in line. This guy had been attached, and knocked out, fellons with knives etc and something he was doing was working and keeping him alive - although I realise it's different being a cop and just a joe on the street - to some degree.

    I would always be more confident getting this training from an experienced individual, as unfortunately having been in a legitimate SD scenario that came out of nowhere, literally around the corner and also some street fights which I should/could really have avoided, these things happen real fast and are nothing like squaring off in the ring. We all say we know this - but do we really appreicate this? Nothing like the poor chap mentioned in the Op but I have also had colleagues in martial arts clubs, of differing styles, who have turned up to class beat up badly because they got involved in a confrontation, one they could/should have avoided and, two, they either froze up or went in thinking they were superman or something due to MA training and got served. I have been in clubs where there are extremely talented senseis/sifus - in their style and skill appplication - who are not, IMHO, best suited to be instructing SD advice.

    Anyway, if you want to compete and be a success, find a club where the sensei is an ex champion - or has trained champs. If you want real SD, find someone with the credibility/experience behind what they are saying and training.
     
  9. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    Terry, I think your numbers are off... According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, about 17 in 1000 people will be the victims of violence. They found "about 4.3 nonviolent victimizations." The UCR data is comparable; about 1.3 million violent offenses reported to the police, or about 430 per 100000 inhabitants.

    If someone is teaching martial arts as self defense, they have to understand the realities of violence, or else their really just LARPing. More importantly, they're endangering students who rely on their information and training. this doesn't mean that they have to have personal experience -- though it certainly helps. They just have to be willing to go out and do the research and to reevaluate what they teach regarding violence in the light of the realities.

    You've snuck an excellent and important point in there, though, Terry. The mechanics of handling violence are important -- but if you stop there, your training is incomplete. You also must spend the time to understand the legal issues; how much force is reasonable, and how do you articulate what you did and why. Someone will almost inevitably trot out the classic "I'd rather be tried by 12 than carried by 6" line... Personally, I'd rather avoid EITHER scenario, and understanding the legal limits and how to justify your actions is the way to do this!
     
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  10. Apatride

    Apatride White Belt

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    Another interesting point raised in other posts: Self defense is not only about kicking a**. It is also about being able to avoid issues.
    Would I trust a street fighter about self defense ? Probably not. I would trust him regarding the street fighting part but for de escalation skills...
    A cop ? Maybe, but facing violence as a cop and facing it as a civilian are 2 different things.

    The idea is that if you got in a fight, you screwed up somewhere (lack of awareness, bad decision...) so if someone had his share of street fights, this means that he is used to screw up and then fight his way out of it. Not what I want to do.

    But if someone is very good at avoiding fights and, because of this, has never found himself in a fight, I would also consider that he has not enough experience to be a "street fighting teacher".

    This raises another question (maybe off topic) but I have practiced both Trad MA and Sport MA and I am quite surprised by the wide spread opinion that Trad MA are more suitable for SD. My (limited) experience showed me that knowing how to apply a move in a dojo with a partner did not mean that you could manage to apply this move in a real life situation. At least, in sport MA, the partner is doing all that he can to prevent you from succesfully applying the move. This is way more realistic IMHO and even if there are rules and limitations in Sport MAs, being able to dodge a punch and answer seems far more useful to me than being able to apply a lock on a partner who gives me his arm and does not resist.

    There might be something I am missing since recognised experts tend to prefer TMA to Sport MA but I really would like to understand this point since it goes against what I have experienced.
     
  11. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

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    Terry is not off by much, that still only comes out to 1.7% for the NCVS stats and only .43% for the UCR on violent offenses.

    99% of "self-defense" is the mental aspects of it. These include situational awareness, deescalation skills and a "never give up" attitude.

    You will always win 100% of the fights you don't get into. If you insist on going to bars for your entertainment, then you are increasing your chances for violence. If you insist on going anywhere in your city because "it's your right", then you are increasing your chances for violence. Talk with your local police, find out what areas are best left alone, what bars have the most trouble. Find out what areas are not safe to drive through anytime of day, or only at night.

    Then do research on "how" street crimes occur. Are they just random acts because you are there? Or what things does a criminal look for when looking for a victim? How does a conman set you up to get close to rob you?

    All of these things to me are "self-defense". Too many schools only teach the physical skills for a fight and if they other prepwork is not there it won't matter, it is too late. Does it matter how fast you are or how good a shot you are if you never get to employ your tools? Nope.
     
  12. terryl965

    terryl965 <center><font size="2"><B>Martial Talk Ultimate<BR

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    I guess my point is this we have so many people out there saying they have real life skills, when in reality they do not. I agree everybody should have some type of S.D. to fall back on just in case. In reality though only a few will ever need it and if they understood to watch and be focus onthe area they are in would elp out alot.
     
  13. ppko

    ppko Master Black Belt

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    Great post but I will add a little, there are ways to increase your odds of survivng no matter what or how you have trained ( when it comes down to techniques). First of all just being aware I know this is said a lot but let me explain a little more than most will. First of all you have to know what makes you a target, talk to police, police psychiatrists and ask them about the criminal activity and what type of people are most likely to be attacked. Second learn your pre-assault ques, knowing that you are going to be attacked before they attack you is the best method. Know the area in your city/town where the crime is going to be highest at, ie alleys, bad neighborhoods etc. Finally learn how to do counter survelance, while this isnt taught in most schools read up on it learn wht you can these simple things can save anyones life.
     
  14. K831

    K831 Black Belt

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    I think it's very crucial.

    However, it isn't necessarily crucial in regards to the physical technique. An instructor can refine, improve techniques more efficiently through the lens of real experience. An instructor can more aptly recognize flaws in technique, methodology etc through the lens of real experience.

    I think though, that much of that can also be done via various types of pressure testing outside of "real life violent altercations". What I have found to be more valuable from an instructor who has real experience is as follows;

    1.) They have been sobered and humbled and so do not impart a Rambo mindset to their students. Most instructors want to believe they are bas@ss and so they need their students to believe they are, and that gets confused with reality to where we think we are so tough and our style is so good that people become over confident.

    2.) They better understand the psychology of violent encounters, and can better prepare their students emotionally and psychologically.

    3.) They think as much or more about avoidance, threat assessment/recognition as they do about the actual fight.

    4.) Lastly, they are able to rethink their training (as did the OP of this thread) in light of real evidence.

    In every difficult situation I have been (anything from high pressure competition in sports, high pressure negotiations in business and sales, high pressure academic tests, and high pressure violent altercations) a persons confidence, focus and intent was key to survival more than anything else. This is the most difficult thing to teach and prepare for, IMO.
     
  15. elwin

    elwin Yellow Belt

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    Alot of you guys have very good points, but this is exactly what I want us to discuss here. If you are an instructor, your students rely on what you teach them. What they train, they will go out and do - unless they freeze.

    You as instructor don't need to be a veteran street survivor, but I believe you do need to put in every effort to equip yourself with the most honest and realistic real life knowledge, as well as teach techniques that will be most effective when dealing with real world violence. At the same time, you need to prepare your students for EVERY factor when facing danger such as, how to handle your adrenaline rush, controling fear, staying rational and focused etc.

    You can't teach something you know nothing about, and that may cause the death of a student in the worse case.
     
  16. Supra Vijai

    Supra Vijai Black Belt

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    As mentioned in a couple of the other posts, one of the first and foremost skills you should impart to your students IMO is an understanding of the "interview" process attackers use to get in close, awareness drills, verbal de-escalation tactics, pre-emptive striking and only then get into street combat. The bulk of our street work is focussed on ending the fight before it starts and that's something we drill again and again and again. Doesn't matter if you're a white belt or a black belt, you drill it over and over.

    In terms of TMA being better for self defence that is total rubbish! I can honestly say if I tried to use my TMA as I learn it in the dojo on the street I would be in a world of trouble. That may come down in part to my skill level in the TMA aspect but the bigger part is that today's fights aren't the fights seen in history when your respective art was developed. Weapons, methods, techniques, tactics are all variables in a world where everyone watches the UFC and has at least some training in something. We've always been taught to think of SD and MA as 2 ends of a scale. The middle point is where you cross over the 2 by adapting the traditional to suit modern environments and find how the modern relates back the traditional. TMA on it's own isn't the way to go in the street.
     
  17. MJS

    MJS Administrator Staff Member

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    Training does not turn anyone into a Superman, and anyone who tells you it does, doesnt know what they're talking about. Yes, it gives you an edge, but no, it doesnt mean that you wont or couldnt get your *** kicked, end up seriously hurt or worse...dead.

    Are there questionable things in the arts? Sure. When it comes to techniques, for myself, I want to make sure that what I'm doing works for me, despite whether or not it worked for my teacher, his teacher, or his teachers teacher. This is another reason why I feel that we should always look at our art, and make sure that its up with the times.

    Of course, I think its also important to train or talk to people who've had some real world experience. Its amazing the knowledge that can be gained, talking and/or training with someone who has tested their stuff. People such as LEOs, Correction Officers, etc., can be a wealth of knowledge when it comes to seperating the flash from the effective stuff.
     
  18. MJS

    MJS Administrator Staff Member

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    While there is a difference, I still feel that the knowledge that can be gained is important. I'd be more apt to listen to the CO who had an inmate try to kill him, and what he did to survive, rather than someone who has never been in a confrontation, yet is teaching Sd. Rory Miller makes some good points in his book.

    I agree, that verbal de-escalation is important. OTOH, there are times when there is no time to talk. If I were to be followed into a parking lot, by someone who accuses me of cutting him off while driving, its very possible he may initiate an attack before any talking can being. Speaking for myself, but I'm not going to run around my car, run around the parking lot, trying to talk this guy down, while he chasing after me.
     
  19. Apatride

    Apatride White Belt

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    I guess the cultural difference and the environment make it difficult for me to understand the situation.
    I am currently leaving in Ireland. Despite the fact that Irish people consider some parts of the city as being dangerous, Ireland is the safest country I have ever lived in. I need to screw up big time in order to get in a fight and if it happens, there are good chances that the fight stops as soon as someone in knocked down so my concern is to avoid fights and the legal issues that can come with a fight (I am a foreigner so I could get kicked out of the country). This is the reason why I tend to focus on de-escalation skills more than anything else)

    I have also lived in France for a while. I would consider some areas as being really dangerous.
    Being attacked by "gangs" and end up stomped on the floor or stabbed can definitely happen. I have been chased twice, got a knife placed on my stomach once as an "intimidation method" (the guy who did it ended up in jail a few months later, it did the same thing to another guy and stabbed him when he got told that he did not have the guts) and avoided being picked up for fights quite a few times (at least as an adult, my teenager life has not been that peaceful). Every time, what saved me was to spot the situation before I get knee deep in it and to talk my way out if the first one did not work.
    One to one, I usually manage to avoid fighting. Against a group of guys, I never got caught by surprise and always managed to make myself a difficult target. So this is my reality of SD.

    It is quite difficult to get an idea of your reality but I have to admit that some things puzzle me. Especially the feeling I get by reading on this forum that extreme violence seems to be part of every day life for some people (and I am not only talking about CE LE)
     
  20. MJS

    MJS Administrator Staff Member

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    Dont misunderstand...I'm certainly not against attempting to talk your way out. I've done it many times with success. I'm simply saying that there may not be time in some circumstances.

    As for the fight stopping when one person goes down...well it may, or they may continue to use your head and ribs for football practice.

    As for violence on a day to day basis...I live in a small town, and while there is crime, its not as bad as other areas. Lets see....drive about 20min north of me, and you'll enter a large city, where shootings and stabbings happen on a daily basis. About 30-45min south...yup, you'll run into the same thing. Sad but true.

    For myself, I always try to do my best to avoid bad situations. I dont frequent bars and clubs. I dont frequent bad parts and if I do venture into a potentially bad area, my doors are locked, I keep a good distance between me and the car in front of me, I keep my eyes open. When I exit the vehicle, I know whats going on around me. IMO, thats half the battle right there. Of course, I feel that no matter where you live, you shouldnt let your guard down. Dont mistake that with being paranoid. I'm simply saying that just because someone may live in a small town, doesnt mean that something bad can't happen to you.123
     

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