One of the most important things I’ve learned over the years of teaching is the difference between “the plan”, and the execution OF the plan based on the INDIVIDUAL. For years I was taught—and have taught—that “we are a concept-based system, not a technique-based system.” Even though we will teach you techniques to help you to build better options, the overall concepts of self-defense must be adaptable for each individual. You hear this a lot in the self-defense community, but more times than not, they aren’t considering the individual into their “plans.” I’ve been guilty of this over the years and I certainly still have my biases, but I find myself more open to different ideas these days. I try to avoid absolutes and give guidance based on plausibility.
Take into account the individual you are training
General plans and concepts can be great, but we must make sure the way they are explained takes into account the individual we are working with. Let’s look at a two common ideas we see in the self-defense world: The Plan: “Never go to the ground.” Considerations:
- If the student is uncoordinated, lacks balance, or lacks size, getting them to a high level of efficiency in staying standing, will take some time. (IF in fact the attacker wants to put them on the floor.)
- No matter how skilled the student is, there’s always a chance they will end up on the floor.
- If an attacker has a knife, and I’m with my wife and child, my goal is to ensure they can get to safety. That may mean I may need to buy them some time, and in that case, using the ground as a third leverage point may be the best option.
- The student may begin his defense from the ground, or perhaps the student tripped and fell while trying to evade.
The Plan: “Everyone should carry a weapon” Considerations:
- Defensive weapons are used to cause serious physical harm or serve as lethal force options. Weapons include (but certainly aren’t limited to) knives, firearms, batons, flashlights, tactical pens, etc. Is the student psychologically prepared to inflict serious physical harm or use a lethal level of force? Do they actually realize what it will take to shoot a human, stab into flesh or bludgeon someone?
- Does the student feel comfortable and confident carrying a weapon? I don’t just mean a false sense of confidence. If a person is nervous around firearms, they aren’t going to be comfortable walking around with a loaded gun.
- Can they physically use that weapon? If someone has a handicap that affects their hands or weakens their grip strength, most defensive tools are going to be for more difficult for them to handle.
- If the student ends up in close quarters before having drawn that weapon, they’ll need an unarmed skill set to make space or gain control of the attacker before that weapon can be an asset.
Much can be dealt with through training, but much also comes down to the individual.
This isn’t to say that carrying a weapon is bad, or that going to the floor is good. These are just two ideas we commonly hear espoused without actual thought. Many of these considerations can be dealt with through training, but that also comes down to the individual. What resources are available to them as far as instruction, training facilities and equipment? How much money can they afford to put to training? How much time are they ACTUALLY going to commit to training? All of these factors matter and must be considered. Try not to brush things under the rug by speaking mindless platitudes that oversimplify the challenges we must endure when facing violence. Plans are great, but the individual must be a part of that plan. And remember, we haven’t even started talking about the most influential variable in the whole equation: The Bad Guy Stay Safe, Train Hard, One Love, aaron