I was recently party to a Facebook thread that really got me thinking about the mythology surrounding self defense. Twenty Three years in emergency services I have seen evil close up from serial killers, to serial rapist, to hit men and hardened killers. I’ve studied martial arts since the age of 8 and I truly get frustrated seeing what I have seen and knowing what I know, with these rape prevention programs or quasi self defense classes.

They misinform people by irresponsibly offering them a false since of security. They lead people to believe that when and if they are in a violent encounter they will have this information stored in their brains somewhere and magically it will reappear when needed. This is a complete fallacy, no one would be able to recall and execute something they did a couple of times years ago. In fact science has proven that if information is not reinforced within 20 days it is forgotten. Unfortunately for the students of these courses this type of information is never given. How many people would sign up and pay for a course that told the truth “As long as you are attacked within 20 days after taking this course you may be OK, but after that sorry “

I honestly believe that these classes do more harm than good. That in this day and age no one want to tell our “8 Minute Abs ” culture that it takes more than 8 minute to get in shape and it takes more than 3 weeks to be able to learn to defend yourself.

There are a few things about violent encounters that the average person doesn’t understand. First and foremost it’s nothing like what you see on television. The FBI says that the average violent encounter last about 8 seconds.  Many attackers are raised in a violent culture and violence is simply a tool that is used to achieve a goal. These attackers are trained, maybe not in a formal dojo but they are taught how to fight, inflict harm and conditioned to tolerate pain. These types of people are well seasoned and experienced criminals.  Odds say that the average law abiding citizen has never been in a violent encounter and hence lacks the experience of a seasoned criminal.

The FBI profiles different types of Rapist such as the anger-retaliatory rapist: “He feels animosity towards women and wants to punish and degrade them. Often he is a substance abuser. He is impulsive and has an explosive temper. He looks for an opportunity to commit the rape rather than for a specific victim. He attacks spontaneously and brutalizes the woman into submission. Thirty percent of rapists fall into the anger-retaliation category. He will grab you from behind and drag you into the bushes. He will often beat you to near-unconsciousness before committing the rape. Any level of resistance may well enrage him and cause him to beat the hell out of you until he gets what he wants. He’s not looking to kill you, but the beating could be fatal. ” Is it reasonable to believe that anyone can learn enough in 6 classes  to successfully escape this type of attacker ? Who honestly thinks 32 hours of training will ever counter a life time of criminal experience ?

Research has shown that during high stress moments if your actions have not been rehearsed to the point of “Muscle Memory” then you will not be able to call on the skills when needed. The military trainers  know that for a person to operate in high stress environment he must be conditioned to do so. In high stress moments two things happen, first a person will losses significant cognitive ability and won’t be able to think and fine motor function is gone.

How important is preserving your life and that of your family ? If it’s important it is going to require more than a “8 minutes abs” commitment. Take one year and find a reputable school and commit to learning self defense. Take a gun safety course and a gun self defense course. I’m not suggesting making this a lifestyle but I argue that if you practice something for a year your much more likely to be able to deploy it when your life is on the line than some 3 week course that is simply a money making conscious easing gimmick.

This is not gospel but simply my opinion and that’s all its worth.




 Facebook Post

I am taking a woman’s self defense class through my gym starting tomorrow morning. Anyone want to join me?? It is open to people outside the gym and is taught by a RAD / rape certified female Lowell Police detective and a trainer that has her black belt. This is something I want all my friends to be strong in!! Worth the $ and your time!!!! Come on!! You know it’ll be good!!!

Female 1 It runs for three weeks and the classes are at 8:30am Sunday and 5:00pm Tuesday. One class a week is all you need, but the all classes will have something new. 14 years old and up. $75 for all the classes or $25 for one.

Me I’ve been studying martial arts since i was 8 and do yourself a favor skip that BS class and join a solid school and learn self defense … these courses are a waste of time … it takes years of training to be able to function under stress and protect your life and your families

Female 2 My sister and I took a class a few yrs back and I say go for it, I understand what you friend is saying Amanda. But your point of view resonates louder with me, rather have that knowledge in the back of my mind than not at all.

Female 1 Point taken clay, but seriously, your saying you’d rather me have no skill or knowledge to have in the back of my mind in the event of an attack??? If all I take from this 3 week class, from certified instructors, is one move that helps me get away from an attacker it is worth my world, sanity and life. There’s no price to that!! Please be careful when you discourage a woman from taking ANY step toward empowering herself. I’m kind of taken aback from your reaction considering what you must have seen in your line of work. I don’t need to win any battle just know how best to get away!! Most women won’t walk into a martial arts studio to start defense classes, should they have no skills then?? Maybe a smaller class would inspire someone to go that road! I’d love to have years to develop that skill, but until that fits into my life I want something to hopefully keep me or a loved one from harm!

Me I’m not discouraging anything just the opposite …. that is a popular myth but when that moment happen you will be too terrified to think and the entire confrontation will be over in less than 8 seconds … so because we are friends … i want you to survive and in moments of extreme stress it must be muscle memory … nothing you learn in 3 weeks and never use again until that moment of life or death , will become instinct … i didn’t take what i said litely at all in fact i take this subject matter deadly seriously because of what i have seen… this instills false confidence which will get you hurt… your life and that of your family should be important enough to take 2 nights a week for 1 to 2 hours for a year to learn and condition yourself … that is when you will learn self defense … that is self defense

Male 1 Lots of useful information in those classes. You don’t need years of training to protect yourself. Sometimes, and more often than not, it’s the smallest of things that allow an ordinary person to get away. It’s the little opportunities to look for that you’ll learn in this class.


 Self Defense Chart

This is a chart I have developed and it is only my opinion. It breaks down some of the arts I have been exposed to and I rate them based on how long it takes to be able to use the art and if I believe it to be a good self defense art.



Good for Self Defense

Amount of time before you can use




3 to 10 years

Aikido is a great self defense art if you can find a school that teaches it that way. It is so watered down now that it takes years to be able to defend yourself. Not very good if you are only devoting a year





Insure you are learning a traditional style of self defense arts of Japanese Jujitsu like Seignury, Combat Jujitsu, or Daito ryu Aiki-jujitsu.



6moths to a year

Ensure the school includes ground defense. Traditional karate is the mother of self defense arts and is always a safe self defense bet

Kung Fu

 I don’t know

I honestly don’t know enough about Kung Fu to comment. Please feel free to leave comments

Krav Maga


>3 months

If you have limited time and need to be able to defend yourself this is the art.

Brazilian Jujitsu

  If you are fighting for sport or want to get in shape, but for self defense look somewhere else.



>1 year

Heavy dependence on weapons like stick and knife but the empty hand techniques are highly effective but at time complicated. If time is an issue this may not be a good fit .


I have no opinion because I don’t know much about it

Jeet Kune Do


Too long

In it’s current form it lacks structure and is too complicated for a beginner and people with limited time.


  Not for self defense. This is for sport  or fitness only



1 year plus

This is largely a sport art , but very effective for self defense. The USMC use to teach marines  combat Judo. Its very rare to find a Combat Judo school now but Judo will condition you real world combat.


There are hundreds of arts but these are the ones I am most familiar with. This does not mean I am condemning any art not mentioned. I encourage you to look at many different styles before choosing one, to ensure that style fits you.



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