Train Hard Or Go Home? -A Little Perspective, Please


Thanks to my good buddy, Grant Cunningham, I had the pleasure of reading an article on female personal defense training do’s and don’ts this morning.  I really enjoy when he brings these types of articles to my attention – and I should really be seeking them out on my own, you know, in my spare time (!).  I’m not one for critiquing someone else’s writing, but I really think this author missed the mark enough that I need to make a few points.

The article was on  I believe this is the link:

I think the author has a point to a certain extent. But the author only address half of the personal defense equation – the physical defense. Nowhere in this article does the author mention mental or psychological training or preparation.  My guess is because either they don’t teach it or don’t know how. Regardless of how much physical skills you’ve got in your bag of tricks, if a person isn’t mentally ready to fight back they won’t.  This is such a big miss in so many personal defense classes, one that I  address in each and every class I teach.

The author also doesn’t mention that high-level physically demanding classes may not be suitable for everyone, at least at the beginning of their training. What about people with physical limitations? What about people who are already apprehensive and would more or less shut down in a class like that, walking away with nothing gained?  Sometimes what we as instructors WANT to teach and what the student is ready to receive are two completely different ideas.  I teach to the needs of my students in a manner in which they will learn and understand. People who don’t already comprehend physical force (even on a small scale from what we as instructors understand) won’t initially learn from it. This has been my experience.

Now, in my 6-hour Commit To Be Safe Workshop, I go about 50% power on the techniques we are learning. It’s more than just a “comfortable” level, but not too much where they will be hurt or overwhelmed. If an individual can take more, I give more; if they need less I give less. And there is already a level 2 class in the works, which will be more intense. I’ve chosen this step-up method of learning because of the market I’m trying to reach – people (male or female) who have never even thought about personal safety in a manner like we are asking them to, and perhaps are just a little bit apprehensive about coming to a class like this at all.  And I want those students to have a solid base of understanding before entering a more intense type of training environment.

I’m not saying the ‘go hard or go home’ mentality doesn’t have its place in training.  That’s how I learned over the past 20+ years.  But people are different, and that’s not for everyone, at least not initially.  Perhaps that’s why there were only two female students at my school back in the day (right, Julia?).

In the end, I guess it just boils down to this:  Instructors don’t have the luxury of dealing in absolutes, or at least the worthwhile ones don’t.  Each student is unique, and while some broad generalized concepts can fit each individual, most personal defense skills need to be modified in some fashion for it to work for each student.  Instructors worth their salt understand that, and try not to make comments that reflect such rigid thought processes.  And remember, I’m not bashing the author.  I just think it was incomplete in thought – at least from my perspective.


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All Things Training, Uncategorized

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