MAIA, Did I hear this guy right?

Bill Mattocks

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based on the legal definition of "self defense" (which varies depending on where you live) you can very much determine what is effective teaching and what isn't. What you are referring to is the "use of force" part of self defense which, I agree, what's effective and what isn't is very subjective and variable. But if you just teach people how to fight and never teach the legality of their actions is it really self defense or just fighting? If a self defense instructor says you can just punch someone who verbally threatens to hurt you but you live in the UK where self defense is defined by the actual actions of the other person and not verbal aggression then they are not teaching self defense and could be potentially putting their client at risk of legal consequences or criminal charges. However in places like Michigan for example, a verbal threat does constitute a legitimate threat and a person can legally physically act on it by punching the aggressor in the face. For sure there is no definitive "best" physical self defense method but that is not the same as saying you can't measure the legitimacy of instruction.

Yes it absolutely 100% is. Self defense is a legal term. What constitutes self defense varies by country and in the US by state. In the US the legal definition is unanimous across the states up to one specific point: Self defense in the US is legally defined as "the right to prevent suffering force or violence through the use of a sufficient level of counteracting force or violence." The specific point that is regulated state to state in the US is the word "sufficient". Fore example in Florida the stand your ground laws allows somebody to proactively use force to stop a threat even outside of their own property. This means that you can be the first one to cause physical violence to another and it can still be classified as self defense provided they made a threat to you in some way first. In Michigan you can meet a threat with force even if you can safely leave without any use of force. However in states such as Arkansas where every person has a duty to retreat meaning that you have to do everything to leave or deescalate the situation before you are allowed to act (exception: Castle Doctrine), using force in anyway without first trying to leave or deescalate is a crime. So if someone in Connecticut for example is claiming to teach self defense but only teach you how to fight and a person starts yelling at you and shoves you and your response is to hit them because that's what you were taught was self defense then you are just as guilty of assault as the other person because you were not taught actual self defense as described by the law in that region.
If a McDojo says they teach self-defense, there is no legal definition of what that is. If I tell someone they can block a punch by raising their arm, and I say that's self-defense, who can legally prove it isn't?

And if I really wanted to follow that path, I'd say that 90% of the garbage I see 'real' dojos teaching as an upper body block is trash. I can destroy those blocks with the tiniest bit of pressure. So are they not teaching self-defense either? Shut them all down! Hey, if it's up to me to say what's self-defense and what isn't, I'm not going to be very popular when I shut down nearly every martial arts studio.

McDojo arts aren't very good. I certainly would not train at one. But the people who do clearly aren't there to learn good solid martial arts. They are getting what they paid for.
 

skribs

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I get that, I guess I'm just thinking of my own definition of mcdojo which is more in line with snakeoil salesmen type of thing and not so much about the technique.
McDojo basically means a fast food variant of a martial art. Get your black belt fast! Bullshido is often included under the umbrella. What you're describing sounds similar to Bullshido, but in a different way.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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So regarding the OP specifically; I listened through from a few minutes before 13:25 to 16 or so, and while they use the term mcdojo once, it's clear it's not what most of us refer to as mcdojo. It's more of a comparison, stating "this is what your bread and butter is, but you should also be willing to expand past that". Which in terms of MA makes sense. If your bread and butter is providing parents relief (which a lot of MA is), that's where you earn your money, which allows you to follow your passion of teaching adults martial arts.

Not that you aren't teaching kids martial arts, but there is a significant difference, at least in america where people are really just looking for daycare for their kids. And some kids will take that info and continue past, meaning what you did was useful, while others will not, which is fine as well.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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If a McDojo says they teach self-defense, there is no legal definition of what that is. If I tell someone they can block a punch by raising their arm, and I say that's self-defense, who can legally prove it isn't?

And if I really wanted to follow that path, I'd say that 90% of the garbage I see 'real' dojos teaching as an upper body block is trash. I can destroy those blocks with the tiniest bit of pressure. So are they not teaching self-defense either? Shut them all down! Hey, if it's up to me to say what's self-defense and what isn't, I'm not going to be very popular when I shut down nearly every martial arts studio.

McDojo arts aren't very good. I certainly would not train at one. But the people who do clearly aren't there to learn good solid martial arts. They are getting what they paid for.
So, contrary to my last post, if you can destroy 90% of blocks with the tiniest bit of pressure, then yes that is trash. And while it's fine to teach arts with that flaw as anger management, or just a daycare for their kids, or something similar, teaching it as self-defense is false advertising. If what you teach as a block can be destroyed that easily, and you don't teach a counter to that destruction, then there is an issue.

An upper body block should work against most upper body strikes. And people learning them should be aware of how to counter a feint, and also where to position the block so it's effective (there's a very fine line between someone being able to power through it, and you putting it far enough ahead it doesn't do anything). If they don't teach that, then they are not teaching the art properly.

Regarding your last line, that people are getting what they paid for, an important thing is the instructor/salesperson being honest about it. From personal experience, I've seen what I consider mcdojo's costing $150, with legitimate dojos costing $90 (of course there's variability in both), But people assume in both they are learning good, solid martial arts. And if they were told that they are, that's the issue.

The average untrained person doesn't know what's good or bad self-defense. So if they were told X is good martial arts, and it costs $150 a month to learn, who are they to argue? Except when they eventually learn it isn't, and they wasted thousands on it...
 

Bill Mattocks

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So, contrary to my last post, if you can destroy 90% of blocks with the tiniest bit of pressure, then yes that is trash. And while it's fine to teach arts with that flaw as anger management, or just a daycare for their kids, or something similar, teaching it as self-defense is false advertising. If what you teach as a block can be destroyed that easily, and you don't teach a counter to that destruction, then there is an issue.

An upper body block should work against most upper body strikes. And people learning them should be aware of how to counter a feint, and also where to position the block so it's effective (there's a very fine line between someone being able to power through it, and you putting it far enough ahead it doesn't do anything). If they don't teach that, then they are not teaching the art properly.

Regarding your last line, that people are getting what they paid for, an important thing is the instructor/salesperson being honest about it. From personal experience, I've seen what I consider mcdojo's costing $150, with legitimate dojos costing $90 (of course there's variability in both), But people assume in both they are learning good, solid martial arts. And if they were told that they are, that's the issue.

The average untrained person doesn't know what's good or bad self-defense. So if they were told X is good martial arts, and it costs $150 a month to learn, who are they to argue? Except when they eventually learn it isn't, and they wasted thousands on it...
Who decides what they can appropriately spend their money on? You?

There is no objective standard and you know it. We are not the guardians of good martial arts. No one is.

It's nice you want to stop people from being cheated. They don't want your help. I've talked to many of them in the dojo. Good self-defense? Solid skills? Authentic training? Don't make me laugh. They want little Johnny to get promoted on time. They want trophies and photo ops for the grandparents. They want karate day care. They could give a fig about a decent block.

And McDojos recognize this and sell it to them. You can say it's fraudulent all you like, it won't change a thing.

And honestly, it's best the students and McDojo that want that hokum find each other.
 

JowGaWolf

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Get your black belt fast!
I don't like this either. The black belt is supposed to indicate a certain advance level mastery and people like to brag about that, but very few want to put in the actual work to get one.

In my opinion it's not the kids driving this but their parents. The sooner the kid gets the black belt the less money the parent has to spend.
 

bushido

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I have a business that does online marketing and primarily fitness content, both workout videos and written content specifically developed for each customer.
Because something is consistent, that does not make it a McDojo...
If you want to drive business: Create a consistent brand! Research & know very specifically your target demographic. Create a website. Create your social media accounts. Branding must carry over & be consistent across all platforms. Create content to be posted on your sites blog and on your social media at least twice per day. Do not use copy & pasted content from other sites, this will be ignored by Google search engines & get tagged as spam content. The content MUST be keyworded for search engines, and social media MUST have hash tags, but no more than 10 hash tags per post. Develop a lost leader (give-away) product. Design a one page ad and sales funnel for the give-away, which collects their e-mail and leads to a low cost front end product and another higher priced back end. Get that funnel active through various methods. Create an e-mail list from that. Start a cold-call out reach program... 10,000 e-mails to start. Define and refine your ad copy. Start a Geo Marketing campaign for local potential customers. Build out from this, expanding products & services.
6-8 months, and you will start to blow up your sales and increase membership incredibly quick.
 

skribs

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It's nice you want to stop people from being cheated. They don't want your help. I've talked to many of them in the dojo. Good self-defense? Solid skills? Authentic training? Don't make me laugh. They want little Johnny to get promoted on time. They want trophies and photo ops for the grandparents. They want karate day care. They could give a fig about a decent block.
I think this happens about 1% of the time with our white belts. I've seen it happen once with an adult colored belt. Most of the parents who bring their kid to martial arts want them to learn discipline, and if their kid isn't ready they want the kid to improve. I've had a ton more times that a parent will ask me to be tougher on their kid, than ask me to be nicer.
 

MadMartigan

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As Skribs said, there is a difference between bullshido and mcdojo. All we really need to do is look at the etomology of each term.

Mcdojo comes from the words McDonalds and Dojo.
Standardized, cheap, fast, not that healthy... but fun and serves its purpose. These are the belt factories among us.
(1 caveat: many schools that otherwise fit this description are far from cheep).

Bullshido comes from Bull$#i+ and Bushido.
Fraudulent, secretive, and often cult-like. Usually not fast, or even easy... but dishonesty usually lives at the core of what they do. These are the real problem we should be worried about. Not some harmless beltmill that specializes in babysitting.

A large chain of schools with a standardized approach is not a definitive way to tell the quality. Applebees is a large consistent chain too, but I doubt anyone would say their food is at equal quality with McDonalds (in no way implying Applbees to be the gold standard, just a useful analogy).

Your school could be the McDonalds, the Applebees, or the little family run bistro (with the local reputation for being the best around). There's space for all the above. Let's face it, would you really want to sit down to a $100 dinner next to a McDonald's playzone? The kids need somewhere to go too, and a professional mma gym is probably not the best fit.

It's not the standardization that creates the McDojo... it's the catering to the lowest common denominator to maximize profits that does that.
 

dvcochran

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Who decides what they can appropriately spend their money on? You?

There is no objective standard and you know it. We are not the guardians of good martial arts. No one is.

It's nice you want to stop people from being cheated. They don't want your help. I've talked to many of them in the dojo. Good self-defense? Solid skills? Authentic training? Don't make me laugh. They want little Johnny to get promoted on time. They want trophies and photo ops for the grandparents. They want karate day care. They could give a fig about a decent block.

And McDojos recognize this and sell it to them. You can say it's fraudulent all you like, it won't change a thing.

And honestly, it's best the students and McDojo that want that hokum find each other.
@Monkey Turned Wolf said:
So, contrary to my last post, if you can destroy 90% of blocks with the tiniest bit of pressure, then yes that is trash. And while it's fine to teach arts with that flaw as anger management, or just a daycare for their kids, or something similar, teaching it as self-defense is false advertising. If what you teach as a block can be destroyed that easily, and you don't teach a counter to that destruction, then there is an issue.

An upper body block should work against most upper body strikes. And people learning them should be aware of how to counter a feint, and also where to position the block so it's effective (there's a very fine line between someone being able to power through it, and you putting it far enough ahead it doesn't do anything). If they don't teach that, then they are not teaching the art properly.

Regarding your last line, that people are getting what they paid for, an important thing is the instructor/salesperson being honest about it. From personal experience, I've seen what I consider mcdojo's costing $150, with legitimate dojos costing $90 (of course there's variability in both), But people assume in both they are learning good, solid martial arts. And if they were told that they are, that's the issue.

The average untrained person doesn't know what's good or bad self-defense. So if they were told X is good martial arts, and it costs $150 a month to learn, who are they to argue? Except when they eventually learn it isn't, and they wasted thousands on it...

Sadly, I believe you are both right.
 
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J. Pickard

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Self defence is a legal defence against an assult charge.

Which has almost nothing to do with self defence as a instructional subject.
If self defense is a legal defense against assault then shouldn't that be the instructional subject? If you are taking a "self defense" course and all they teach you is how to hit a person to cause the most damage and then run away but they don't explain to you when you have a legal right to do that then it's just combat training and not self defense. If you live in a duty to retreat state in the US and you took a "self defense course" that only taught you how to hit hard and then run, wouldn't you be pretty pissed off after getting charged with assault because you didn't try to deescalate first? Seems like something that should be covered in a class that claims to teach self defense.
 

drop bear

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If self defense is a legal defense against assault then shouldn't that be the instructional subject? If you are taking a "self defense" course and all they teach you is how to hit a person to cause the most damage and then run away but they don't explain to you when you have a legal right to do that then it's just combat training and not self defense. If you live in a duty to retreat state in the US and you took a "self defense course" that only taught you how to hit hard and then run, wouldn't you be pretty pissed off after getting charged with assault because you didn't try to deescalate first? Seems like something that should be covered in a class that claims to teach self defense.

Yes and no. Self Defense as by the law is a fairly narrow subject. And wouldn't fit in to most people's idea of what would be in a course.

So for example a duty to retreat is a good idea. But if you retreated and escaped that isn't self defence. Because you didn't assult anyone.
 

dvcochran

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If self defense is a legal defense against assault then shouldn't that be the instructional subject? If you are taking a "self defense" course and all they teach you is how to hit a person to cause the most damage and then run away but they don't explain to you when you have a legal right to do that then it's just combat training and not self defense. If you live in a duty to retreat state in the US and you took a "self defense course" that only taught you how to hit hard and then run, wouldn't you be pretty pissed off after getting charged with assault because you didn't try to deescalate first? Seems like something that should be covered in a class that claims to teach self defense.

Yes and no. Self Defense as by the law is a fairly narrow subject. And wouldn't fit in to most people's idea of what would be in a course.

So for example a duty to retreat is a good idea. But if you retreated and escaped that isn't self defence. Because you didn't assult anyone.
I think we all know this can be debated ad nauseum.
Admittedly, I am not as savvy and up to speed on the legal side of this as I used to be. But I do know there is a TON of semantics involved.
In terms of building a defense for your actions, proof that you were rightfully in fear of yours or someone else's life is important. If an encounter goes to the courtroom (which is doubtful) 'painting' this picture is so very important.
So, it goes beyond the bar room sucker punch scenario.
 
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J. Pickard

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Yes and no. Self Defense as by the law is a fairly narrow subject. And wouldn't fit in to most people's idea of what would be in a course.

So for example a duty to retreat is a good idea. But if you retreated and escaped that isn't self defence. Because you didn't assult anyone.
I think the disconnect here is you are only looking at it from a hand to hand combat type situation instead of as a whole, but many self defense courses also include firearms training in the US and Canada and self defense in some places also covers breaking and entering as a means of escaping a threat, not just fighting back. If someone claims to teach a firearms related self defense but never explains the difference between felonious assault/manslaughter and self defense you would probably want your money back. In many places a Duty to Retreat is not just a good idea it is the law. In Delaware, for example, if someone threatens to shoot you and flashes a holstered firearm and you react by securing the weapon and delivering blows to disable the would be assailant the way it is taught in many "self defense" courses you just committed a crime in the state of Delaware because of their Duty to Retreat laws. The same cannot be said in Florida, in this same situation Florida law declares this self defense. If you take a course that doesn't cover this and end up getting charged with a crime I would imagine you would be pretty pissed off at the "self defense" instructor for not covering this. Fighting back is definitely an important part of self defense but it is at most 25% of it. To the original point of the topic, I think of a McDojo more than anything as dishonest marketing to steal money from unsuspecting clients. If they claim to teach self defense and charge money for self defense and then proceed to only teach point karate then most likely They are a mcdojo and should not be encouraged to continue to operate. So when I heard this guy talk about McDojos as a good thing for the sake of business I couldn't understand why anyone would support that. But now, after reading through this thread, I see that his definition of McDojo is not the same as mine and mine would more be classified as just straight bullshido.
 

drop bear

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What we are looking at in a very simple term is this.

Defence against assult.

CAMELS Consent, amicable contest, misadventure or accident, execution of law, lawful correction or chastisement, self defence
 

dvcochran

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I think the disconnect here is you are only looking at it from a hand to hand combat type situation instead of as a whole, but many self defense courses also include firearms training in the US and Canada and self defense in some places also covers breaking and entering as a means of escaping a threat, not just fighting back. If someone claims to teach a firearms related self defense but never explains the difference between felonious assault/manslaughter and self defense you would probably want your money back. In many places a Duty to Retreat is not just a good idea it is the law. In Delaware, for example, if someone threatens to shoot you and flashes a holstered firearm and you react by securing the weapon and delivering blows to disable the would be assailant the way it is taught in many "self defense" courses you just committed a crime in the state of Delaware because of their Duty to Retreat laws. The same cannot be said in Florida, in this same situation Florida law declares this self defense. If you take a course that doesn't cover this and end up getting charged with a crime I would imagine you would be pretty pissed off at the "self defense" instructor for not covering this. Fighting back is definitely an important part of self defense but it is at most 25% of it. To the original point of the topic, I think of a McDojo more than anything as dishonest marketing to steal money from unsuspecting clients. If they claim to teach self defense and charge money for self defense and then proceed to only teach point karate then most likely They are a mcdojo and should not be encouraged to continue to operate. So when I heard this guy talk about McDojos as a good thing for the sake of business I couldn't understand why anyone would support that. But now, after reading through this thread, I see that his definition of McDojo is not the same as mine and mine would more be classified as just straight bullshido.
Maybe, but that is a little extreme. How can an instructor be expected to maintain you whereabouts for perpetuity? Who's to say you take a class and then move to another state the next week? Is this still the instructor's responsibility?
We are in a legal/liability wormhole.
 
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J. Pickard

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Maybe, but that is a little extreme. How can an instructor be expected to maintain you whereabouts for perpetuity? Who's to say you take a class and then move to another state the next week? Is this still the instructor's responsibility?
We are in a legal/liability wormhole.
The instructor should teach to the laws of the state they instruct out of, or in the case of traveling instructors they simply need to bring up the fact that laws vary from state to state. You don't need to get too in depth on it but at least make a point of talking about it. Something as simple as saying "make sure to check your local laws". Being ignorant of a law is not an excuse to act against it. I think firearm self defense classes are another good example to draw from here. I have taken 3 firearms based self defense programs and two made a point to state that they were teaching to the laws in our specific state and to always check when the laws when traveling to another state/country. The 3rd instructor travels and he always worded it something like "when you are legally allowed to defend yourself these are some options you can take, but what is legally self defense varies by state so make sure to check your state laws." Now Carrying a gun is not the same as carrying fast fists around, I get that, but the overall approach to self defense is the same. If you know the laws where you teach, great! Then include them. If you don't then you should at least make a point to inform students that what they are allowed to do to defend themselves depends on state/country laws and it is up to them to figure it out.
 

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The instructor should teach to the laws of the state they instruct out of, or in the case of traveling instructors they simply need to bring up the fact that laws vary from state to state. You don't need to get too in depth on it but at least make a point of talking about it. Something as simple as saying "make sure to check your local laws". Being ignorant of a law is not an excuse to act against it. I think firearm self defense classes are another good example to draw from here. I have taken 3 firearms based self defense programs and two made a point to state that they were teaching to the laws in our specific state and to always check when the laws when traveling to another state/country. The 3rd instructor travels and he always worded it something like "when you are legally allowed to defend yourself these are some options you can take, but what is legally self defense varies by state so make sure to check your state laws." Now Carrying a gun is not the same as carrying fast fists around, I get that, but the overall approach to self defense is the same. If you know the laws where you teach, great! Then include them. If you don't then you should at least make a point to inform students that what they are allowed to do to defend themselves depends on state/country laws and it is up to them to figure it out.
It sounds to me like what you are describing is more of an academic add-on to the physical training. When a martial art school claims to teach self-defense, I believe what they are saying is simply that they are teaching physical skills that you can use to defeat a person who might attack you. The legal side of that is another thing altogether. I get your point: ideally the physical and the academic ought to me taught together, if the aim of the school is to teach someone to defend themselves within the limits of the law. But lets be honest about this: most martial arts instructors are in no way experts on the law, and honestly, I dont think they need to be nor is it realistic to expect them to be. Most of them havent been to law school. They are teaching a physical skill that by far, most of their students will never need to use to defend their lives.

Maybe there is a gap that some enterprising community college could fill by developing a class within their paralegal studies program, in understanding the law around self- defense. This could be a stand alone class within that program, or could be taught in tandem with a physical skills class. Whether that skills class would be structured specifically to meet a definition of effective and legal self-defense or not, might be another topic of debate. Maybe the skills classes are simply designed to teach a particular martial method. I know that the community college system in my area teaches martial arts within the physical education program, and it is designed to teach specific martial methods, such as Tae Kwon Do, Judo, Shotokan, Wing Chun, etc. in that case, they would be stand-alone classes. Learn a martial art. And if you are interested, take a law class designed to help you understand the law around self-defense and interpersonal violence. The community colleges are designed to be affordable and accessible to members of the community, so this could be an interesting solution.

But I dont think the typical local martial arts school is qualified to teach that. I do think people ought to be thoughtful about how they market their program. I personally simply claim to teach a kung fu method. I also suggest that it is interesting and can be an excellent form of exercise, and should you find yourself in need of defending yourself, it can offer some effective solutions. I am probably better able than most to articulate a general level of understanding of what is reasonable and unreasonable in defending oneself, but my family has several attorneys in it and Ive worked for many years in legal settings as well. Most people probably do not have those resources. But that is definitely not my focus in what I teach nor in how I market it.
 

dvcochran

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It sounds to me like what you are describing is more of an academic add-on to the physical training. When a martial art school claims to teach self-defense, I believe what they are saying is simply that they are teaching physical skills that you can use to defeat a person who might attack you. The legal side of that is another thing altogether. I get your point: ideally the physical and the academic ought to me taught together, if the aim of the school is to teach someone to defend themselves within the limits of the law. But lets be honest about this: most martial arts instructors are in no way experts on the law, and honestly, I dont think they need to be nor is it realistic to expect them to be. Most of them havent been to law school. They are teaching a physical skill that by far, most of their students will never need to use to defend their lives.

Maybe there is a gap that some enterprising community college could fill by developing a class within their paralegal studies program, in understanding the law around self- defense. This could be a stand alone class within that program, or could be taught in tandem with a physical skills class. Whether that skills class would be structured specifically to meet a definition of effective and legal self-defense or not, might be another topic of debate. Maybe the skills classes are simply designed to teach a particular martial method. I know that the community college system in my area teaches martial arts within the physical education program, and it is designed to teach specific martial methods, such as Tae Kwon Do, Judo, Shotokan, Wing Chun, etc. in that case, they would be stand-alone classes. Learn a martial art. And if you are interested, take a law class designed to help you understand the law around self-defense and interpersonal violence. The community colleges are designed to be affordable and accessible to members of the community, so this could be an interesting solution.

But I dont think the typical local martial arts school is qualified to teach that. I do think people ought to be thoughtful about how they market their program. I personally simply claim to teach a kung fu method. I also suggest that it is interesting and can be an excellent form of exercise, and should you find yourself in need of defending yourself, it can offer some effective solutions. I am probably better able than most to articulate a general level of understanding of what is reasonable and unreasonable in defending oneself, but my family has several attorneys in it and Ive worked for many years in legal settings as well. Most people probably do not have those resources. But that is definitely not my focus in what I teach nor in how I market it.
A simple and commonly used caveat is that a school is teaching self-defense skills, nothing more. Certainly, these skills can be comprehensive in nature. But somewhere in the explanation or curriculum it must be noted/stressed that not everything self-defense (legal for example) will be covered and a person must be self-taught on the ramifications of using SD.
Keep in mind that most folks seeking this type of training are good people with legitimate, but morally tempered fears. It is paramount that the course does not try to turn them into immoral beasts.

Because of my background, I probably go a little deeper into some of the what-ifs of deploying self-defense. However, it is always taught as the last resort tool in a person's tool bag. Very, very hard to do when, in the same coursework, we talk about first strikes as an advantageous option.
Sadly, somewhere there needs to be the legalese.
 

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