Under: Self-defense
9 Oct 2007

I have been reviewing other self defense websites and blogs and have come to the conclusion that many of the sites use poison pills! A poison pill is an old sales technique where the sales person will be loosing a sale and then mention “the things the buyer should look for in another vendor’s product”… “and by the way our competitors do not have this feature or that feature…”


I have used the poison pill when I owned a karate studio whenever I was loosing a sale. I would point out that my competitors did not offer private lessons and their instructors were not black belts and so on. Many of the prospective students then did not consider my competitors and signed up with me. In retrospect I now think that approach was unethical because a student should look for a good fit more then features (that they do not know anything about yet) when selecting a method of self defense. 


Everyone learns differently and self defense is no different. Some folks like lots of companionship while working out and thrive on comradery! Others need lots of personal attention to build up their self confidence before they believe they can be successful. Many self defense studio owners and bloggers think they have the solution to the exclusion of all other methods. I submit to you that this is ludicrous! There is not one way or method or style that works for everyone. Not everyone needs the holistic approach. Not every prospective student will need self confidence boosting as part of their program. We are a world of individuals that all absorb information differently so there is not one solution. Please be suspect when a studio owner or blogger has the answer. I think they can certainly have a part of the over puzzle but when they start bad-mouthing everyone else… I discount most of what follows.


I’ll give you a modern issue that has been highly contested among karate studios in America. The issue is what sparring method is most effective? Many formal styles rely on non-contact sparring. They believe that if they contacted each other in actual sparring – it would be too dangerous as their hands are deadly weapons. They also train on breaking techniques to increase their power. 


Non-formal styles do a combination of semi-contact or even full-contact fighting. These stylists believe that you fight the way you train. If you end up having to defend yourself and have never taken a punch or felt what it was like to punch someone – you would be at a disadvantage in a real fight. A football team could not train with flag football and then play effective tackle football!


I am guessing that my frame of reference has shined through but let me say that now I do not fully agree with either stance. I had a discussion with a formal stylist at a party once and fighting methods came up. He asserted that since he did not practice sport karate and all targets were open to him (even though he practiced non-contact during practice) he was at an advantage in a fight. I asserted that since I knew what it felt like to be in a fight I would be at an advantage (even though I would fight the way I did in sport karate matches). We then exchanged true life self defense stories and both of us were able to defend ourselves (albeit different methods). 


I now think that a prospective student in self-defense, karate, MMA or any other fighting style should consider what benefits they are expecting and then select a method, style, personality, or school that is a good fit. If one only has one night a week to devote to learning self-defense and they do not want to choose a new lifetime hobby, perhaps a local self-defense course put on by local women against rape group would be a good choice. If you want to learn a sport that you can also use as self-defense – try your favorite martial art. If you do not want to go to any effort – perhaps buying a can of mace will increase your comfort level. Whatever choices you select – try to integrate your choices with lessening your exposure to risk (as your parents have probably pointed out).


As I mentioned in my “Introduction to My Self-Defense Blog” I am not an all knowing expert about self-defense or karate. I just have been around awhile and have an opinion about this topic. Feel free to chime in with our opinion. I welcome discourse. My stance is, it is not the style but the person generally, and it is certainly true when it comes to the plethora of self defense styles and methods. 

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