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Self-Defense Classes are Like a Box of Chocolate….

Posted Jun 11 2009 5:55pm
….You never know what you are going to get.

I must begin with a caveat. The self-defense classes I am referring to are one or two session classes taught to non-martial artists. The classes may be for an organization, church group or business. The class covers basic self-defense techniques for adults. I am not referring to seminars taught to martial artist or women’s self-defense classes.

As far as self-defense classes go, I have been a participant, an instructor, an observer or an assistant. The truth is that you never know how a self-defense class is going to go until it is over. This is true even if you are well prepared with goals for the class and a lesson outline. Take for example two self-defense classes with the same instructor and identical curriculum. One class could be a great success while the second class might be unpleasant.

What is the difference? The participants. I have compiled a list of individuals or personality types that have made appearances at self-defense classes.

Regular Participant: This is the largest group. This individual is willing and interested to learn self-defense. These people come to the session with an open mind. They are excellent participants, pleasant to be around and a joy to teach.

Reluctant Participant: This individual was forced to attend the session. They do not want to learn self-defense and have absolutely no interest. This is the first person I spot among the group because they are usually standing with their arms crossed with a bored expression.

Over Enthusiastic Participant: This individual is the first to participate and often volunteers. They are enthusiastic for the attention not for the pursuit of information.

“I Know a Better Way” Type I: This individual has previous martial arts experience. The often do not divulge their background. He/she is polite and listens but you will find them practicing the releases/locks their own way. They may even show other class participants their variation.

“I Know a Better Way” Type II: This individual does not have martial arts experience but still believes they have a better way. They may have seen it in a movie or learned it through a different athletic pursuit. You will hear them exclaiming, “Well, I would do it this way.” There is an opportunity here for the self-defense instructor. If Type II demonstrates and their technique is faulty, they can learn a valuable and possibly life saving lesson. Type II will either get angry or accept the correction. In my opinion, it is better to find out that a technique does not work during practice than on the street.

Quiet Observer: I think it is important to look for the quiet observer. This person is an intense listener, participates but does not ask questions. They look like they want to say something but refrain. At the close of the self-defense class, we provide our phone number and email address. In less than a week, this person usually calls with a specific question or concern.

The Disbeliever: This individual does not think self-defense works. They ask many questions and look for the exceptions. They love to offer “What if?” scenarios.

Ok…that is my list but I am sure there are other characters that make guest appearances at self-defense seminars. I would love to hear your thoughts!
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