80. A link on self-defense

All, a very interesting article on “self-defense” and the US legal system by Marc MacYoung:
(Partial quotes:), from his “Latest Thoughts” page (http://marcmacyoung.com/LatestThoughts.htm):

“…Do yourself a favor and don’t limit your training on this subject to just the physical. Unfortunately in most training, there is entirely too much emphasis on ‘winning’ in a violent situation. A popular fad is how to overcome the freeze response and explode into blindingly fast response time. People are afraid of failing in a self-defense situation, and that’s what they want to know. I will say: This new training is good, it is important.

But so too is what I call ‘planning for success.’ If you successfully use your training, there WILL be an aftermath. An aftermath that can be more complicated and dangerous (in other ways) than the original situation. This article is to introduce you to just one aspect of the aftermath.

Unfortunately — in most so-called ‘self-defense’ training — subjects like avoidance, violence dynamics (de-escalation and deterrence), ‘do you have to engage’ decision making, and legal consequences are all given a hand wave. By this I mean: “Oh sure we teach that too, now let’s spend the next six hours learning how to bust someone up” or “Well, obviously you should try and escape, but here’s all the things you can do with your weapon when you can’t escape.”

There is no denying that this kind of training is fun and exciting. It is a confidence builder. It can be good exercise. It also can be very powerful fear management, but it is not danger management.”

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5 thoughts on “80. A link on self-defense

  1. Aside from Wayne’s purpose for sharing this, I would like to take the opportunity to exploit a related topic.

    Marc “Animal” MacYoung started a self defense system some years ago primarily for women. The same group of women all self defense classes target. I have read much of what he has written with an open mind. I would agree there is a hand wave to the vital appendages of self defense. My contention with self defense class is the lack of liability to what is being taught. The lack of instructor responsibility to the material taught is a type of fraud in my view. It is easy to talk up a good talk, to establish confidence in a good lie of success, and take no responsibility when it fails. Very few people hold their self defense instruction and instructor responsible for failing and being B.S.

    Very few martial artists and self defense instructors ever discuss this issue. It is the proverbial, Gorilla in the room that shakes the very foundation of every martial arts entrepreneur’s credibility. Even Mr. MacYoung in his thoughts deftly and carefully avoids the issue in his criticisms. Why, because to gain the relative experience, knowledge and understanding of self defense situations you need years of various situational experience in being a targeted victim, to understand what a common person victimized by a violent assault holistically experiences. And then what it takes, in terms of skills, etc. are required to be effective. In contrast to the blanket, one size fits all, approach most self defense instructors are teaching from their personal skill sets.

    Most instructors who teach self defense are sport fighters, brawlers, bouncers, researchers, martial “artists,” people who aren’t the passive average person victimized. Most self defense instructors perspectives and lessons are not drawn from their experiences, personalities, and skills sets. They can’t draw on the critical experience and knowledge of being a repeated victim. it is true most self defense instructors have much to offer, but it is from their perspective and their personal experiences. This creates a gap where most instructors fill in will their ideas, conclusions, concepts, jargon, assumptions, personal stuff, etc. More succinctly, they are unable to address all the variable or combinations of variables associated with all situations of possible attacks. Intentionally or not the instructors teach what is unreliable as fact that will result in success for everyone. All without the concern of liability, when their instruction is not applicable to everyone.

    It is true knowing something is better than knowing nothing. But this puts a victim on a razor’s edge, at high risk, and very unfavorable odds of success. Also self defense instructors would fail in their venture on such a scat philosophy of knowing something is better than nothing. It is simply not enough to teach on or warrant more than one class. Beside volume as a mark of value, people want reassurance, to feel safe psychologically, a sense of control, over the uncontrollable. They then don’t adequately question what they are doing or being taught. It isn’t enough for those seeking self defense to hear the unsettling truth and the limited information based on the limitations of their instructor and what is being taught. People seeking self defense instruction suffer from not knowing of what is responsible instruction and material that will keep them safe from B.S. and the commercial fads created to provide credibility. Therefore, when they are in a self defense situation and survive (usually battered and beaten, and not ever being that situation) never questioning what they employed was inferior, based on methods and instruction.

    There it is, the Gorilla in the room. inferior product being peddled as superior product without the threat of liability. The self defense instructor is never held responsible for their inferiority, in any way. Thereby never held to any standards or accountability. We as a society, hold teachers of adults to the highest degree of education and experience. We demand viable standardize credentials, and proof of their knowledge. Just to teach, history 101. Our society demands anyone of any profession dealing with or selling to the public to be liable, expect for self defense instruction. What value then does society place on self protection from injury and possible death that we don’t hold self instructors liable to what they teach.

    1. Jon, you point out some very significant issues with most self-defense courses. I don’t have any pat answers, but your questions and criticisms are very, very valid. I still think Mr. MacYoung, in his article, brings up some very important issues of the aftermath of violent encounters, however. But you also bring up significant problems in teaching “self-defense” courses inherent in the expectations and failures of them.
      –Wayne

      1. Thank you, Wayne. I am far from the caliber of a writer than you are. And I appreciate your tolerance. Prefacing my post, I am not trying to discredit anyone individual. Marc MacYoung definitely has one of the most sobering view towards self-defense and is a good resource. My post was to expand with my opinion of MacYoung’s noteworthy concern when there is hand waving of very important issues. I don’t want to diminish the purpose of your first post. I think, obviously, it was an important post that needs to be read.

        I don’t think there are answers really that can be implemented successfully. The only thing that can be done is to get the word out as both you and MacYoung have. Education is the key.

  2. I think here Macyoung provides some food for thought. I am not actually a fan of his, or people like him in the “self defense community” for reasons Jon has touched upon as well as others; but the fact fo the matter is “martial arts” instruction is often glossed as “self defense” instruction and the two are quite far apart.

  3. Wayne, you are right to put a spot light upon an area that is left in the dark, the aftermath of a conflict. I am going to expand on that with my own opinion. I will also comment on Kit’s comment.

    Honestly, self defense instructors imo focus on the front end of self defense because it is what brings people in the door, and it placates to their fears, and gives them sense of control. If you deal with the aftermath of a victimization it is counter productive. It makes people uncomfortable when the established their sense of control is lost, and fear is re-established. But the aftermath part, is equally important.

    Ninety percent of a self defense class is establishing a sense of psychological confidence in the participants, a very weak sense of confidence usually. Participants psychologically feels a sense of confidence/control/command they never felt before, regardless of the level of physically competency, when they complete a class. They rarely ask, what do I do when I succeed in protecting myself? And self defense classes, the best ones, just touch upon state self defense laws. In contrast, when a person is victimized, unless is happens frequently, there is a world of new of consequences, from physiological to legal that dramatically effect a person’s mental health and life in ways they never dreamed. Most self defense instruction is ignorant, ignore, or unable professionally to deal with the aftermath of defending yourself.

    With that being true, martial arts instructors are not qualified or prepared to teach a real self defense class. Martial arts in imo are arts. For me, I add culturally and distinctively to the word Budo to mean in part it being an art form. I correct anyone who says Budo is for self defense purposes. It is isn’t, as it doesn’t deal with victimization. Budo arts are born out of ancient military combat methods and culture. It is wrong to confuse martial arts with self defense, because how Budo is taught is based on and practiced in Budo traditions. Budo doesn’t deal with the aftermath of self defense. Here is where I believe lies the underpinning cause of why self defense instruction doesn’t address the aftermath. People think Budo arts are for self defense and that is a dangerous myth. And as I stated before, something is better than nothing. But, that is all most self defense classes really do, as well as Budo- in terms of self defense. A long held myth that needs to go away and allow for the broader truth to be revealed.

    The myth is created because people, only see the front end of Budo and self defense classes. It wows and convinces people when seeing techniques in a control and rehearsed environment, they too will succeed in a conflict. Potential participants during watching a class gets their fears of being helpless when victimized, eased. Enough of a glimmer of confidence that sets a limited paradigm and expectations of an attack. To deal with all the complex issues related to being in a self defense situation, it takes more than stagnate rote practice of modified ancient combat maneuvers in a confined amount of time. What is required is properly trained and recognized professionals to deal with all areas of self defense; including what happens after defending yourself. MacYoung addressing that issue is being responsible despite criticism. Wayne referencing MacYoung is also responsible and understand then need to address the issue.

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