April 15, 2014, Toronto, Canada - In this SAFE International Self Defense blog I would like to expand on what I wrote the other day on our website SAFE Blog about whether a self defense instructor should take credit or blame when a student shares a story of success or failure in dealing with a potentially violent, or a violent scenario. I thought I might add some more thoughts on this. It is very common for instructors to share stories of success when their clients have avoided a violent situation, or if they have handled it successfully with what they had learned physically. Yes, you should be very proud and happy, and I always share stories like this as examples of what was successful for our students, but as far as taking credit or blame, lets look at that further.
- On the surface it may seem logical to want to take some credit, but what does taking credit mean. If they got into a physical confrontation and got away, great, but maybe they had opportunities to avoid the scenario, but they didn’t, so should you really take credit, because ultimately they wouldn’t have gotten into the physical defense you are taking credit for. Or should you take blame that they didn’t avoid? See most self defense instructors love to share these stories of students defending themselves as proof their courses are great. I look at this differently. The fewer stories I hear means the awareness/avoidance strategies we are teaching are working, but because there was no attack, there is no definite way to measure this success because you can’t be positive an attack was going to take place.
- Maybe the difference between them getting away was a quarter of an inch in their striking, in which they didn’t quite get the eyes, As many of us teach, there are 1000s of variables in any attack with moving bodies, changing behaviour, emotion, psychology, and adrenaline. Don’t many of us teach to attack the vital areas? But, what if they missed that vital area by a quarter of an inch. Are you going to take responsibility for all the minutia that takes place in the moment of the attack? You may have taught them to go to the eyes, which they did, but they missed by a quarter of an inch. If you think this is stuff you can take credit or blame for, then time to look at your ego because if you think you can have that much control over how someone “performs” in that precise moment of violence, then you are actually going against the philosophy of gross motor vs fine motor concepts. You aren’t there guiding and coaching your student during an attack. You can’t completely replicate real life violence in the training, so maybe this real life attack was well beyond their ability to handle, but because you didn’t really try to harm them in training, is that your fault? You can have the most realistic training ever, but it is still not real.
- Yes, you should constantly re-evaluate what you teach. If you teach something you know has a low probability of working, then yes, take blame because you have been negligent. And what if what I teach is very different to what another instructor teaches, but we both completely believe our material works? My job is to teach what I completely believe in 100%, but I never guarantee anything will work, because I am realistic enough to know that all my clients bring with them a different history, decision making ability, and other human traits that can alter a decision in a split second. Something we teach a client to do for a few hours, weeks, or even years, may be overruled in that moment of stress by their belief system which they have had for many many years.
- And maybe most importantly, what works perfectly in one scenario, may be the worst thing to do in another scenario, but because the attacker is not familiar with what you taught your client, they don’t meet the norm in what you teach to look out for or deal with. You can virtually take the exact same example of an attack, but because you don’t know what is inside the head of the attacker, what you taught the student to do as the best strategy in most cases, might be what sets this attacker off. There is always the exception in regards to what an attacker will do, and it might be extremely rare, but because you weren’t able to teach your student to completely recognize what was in their head, are you taking blame for that.
Lets be realistic. All we can do is offer the tools to survive with 100% of our commitment, passion, and ability, but taking credit or blame, I believe, moves us into the area of ego. If something works for my client, FANTASTIC, but if something doesn’t, yes, I want to know the details to possibly help others in the future, but I won”t take blame because that means I am taking responsibility for my clients actions which I can’t do because I was not there. Please visit our website at www.safeinternational.biz
Thoughts are welcome as always!