October 6, 2018
I recently received an inquiry from someone looking for a class for her daughter. Her primary goal was physical fitness, but her daughter wanted to learn self defense. Here's how I explained the differences.
There’s a big differencebetween fitness classes, martial art classes and self defense classes. There are martial arts schools that offer a blend of kickboxing and a cardio workout, for example, but you are not learning self defense in those, and similar classes offered at exercise gyms (like the YMCA etc) are often not even taught by martial artists. There are four different realms actually: martial arts, combat/fight sports, physical fitness, and self defense.
Martial arts classes are great for developing self-discipline and for learning movement patterns, but not much of what you learn in the protected environment of the school translates into what works during an ambush on the street, a break-in at your home etc. And I say this as a 4th degree black belt in mixed martial arts! Martial arts-based self defense is almost always an “if he does this, then you do that” system of complex motor skills, and they can take years to master. With the PDR™ program, you won’t be an expert in a day but you will definitely learn what it takes to be safer in your everyday life.
Combat/fight sportsare likewise not the same as self defense: in the ring or octagon, there are agreements, starting with an agreement to fight, and including what you and your opponent are and are not allowed to do, and there’s a limit to how much harm you can inflict. In a sudden attack in the home, at the mall, or on the street, there is no agreement at all between you and the attacker, no rules, and no end until either you get to safety or he gives up, or heaven forbid he prevails and you are abducted, injured or killed.
Fitness classesare great for, well, fitness! But those marketed as “cardio kickboxing” or “MMA fitness” for example, don’t teach anything that will be remotely usable in a real life-or-death situation. Fitness is definitely an asset when you have to defend yourself, but it isn’t essential and taking a fitness class won’t give you the skills and knowledge you need to protect yourself.
The Personal Defense Readiness™ program developed by Tony Blauer (Blauer Tactical Systems) is different from what is labelled “self defense” in many other schools/programs because is it reality-based training (you get to “pressure test” what you’ve learned in realistic scenarios with a non-compliant – and truly intimidating/scary – “bad guy” so that you are put into an adrenalized state and have no choice but to respond as you would in an actual attack).
You also learn everything that precedes a confrontation or attack: how to detect and avoid, and if you can’t avoid how to defuse and de-escalate. You learn how to manage fear, and you learn what your body already knows how to do. Our brains have thousands of years of developing survival skills, and those are what you will use spontaneously when you’re attacked; those survival skillsare far faster than cognitive thought and are based purely on human physiology– everyone has these skills because they’re part of our DNA, our genetic wiring.
On top of that you learn about behavior, what a “bad guy” does(what he wants and doesn’t want, how he can maneuver you into a bad situation etc), and how you can make yourself a very unappealing victim.
You also learn how to defend yourself using whatever tools you have, whether your own body (striking with hands, elbows, knees etc, biting, scratching, pinching, poking, clawing) or something in your environment (your bag of groceries, a bedside lamp, the glass of wine you’re holding etc), and even another tool such as pepper spray, Taser, or firearm. The key is to weather the initial attackso you can get to the point where you can either flee to safety or use those additional tools to deter or incapacitate the attacker and save yourself.
My full course is typically an 8 hour programthat may be done in a single day, a couple of days, or spread out over the course of 5-8 weeks. Participants remember what they learn forever, because what they learn results in a huge paradigm shift: once you’ve learned it you can’t ever go back to the awareness, the understanding, and the mindset that you had before.
It isworthwhile to return for the advanced coursesthough, because that’s where you get to run through more scenarios (participants often bring in situations they’ve encountered or that they dread) and you get to sharpen your skills. I also offer private “refresher” classes for those who would like to follow up but not take another course.
I don’t offer an ongoing class because these aren’t perishable skills– once you’ve “got it” it’s there for good. If people want to come back for more, that’s awesome because it allows them to expand their library of mental blueprints (things that might happen and how they could respond in a given situation) and that makes them even more prepared to protect themselves and their loved ones. It also allows for a deeper dive into physiology and behavior, leading to a greater understanding of their own capabilities and of dangerous people they may encounter.
I teach this program because I want to make the world a safer placeby giving everyone I can the knowledge and skills to protect themselves. And thisprogram, unlike any other I’ve encountered in my 20+ years of martial arts training, gives people exactly that, and has been proven all around the world, both by law enforcement and military folks AND ordinary people who have no martial arts training at all.