Civilian self-defense training

Civilian self-defense training by coaching student to use his or her, already developed, skills is a psychologically challenging task for instructor. It is big odds that, amid difference in background, self-defense instructor and his students will see the World through the same eyes. Something, that experienced martial artist will do with no or little hesitation, can be unthinkable moral line crossing for his student.


I walked in a park in Jerusalem with friend of mine, well qualified boxer, and I passionately talked to him about need for martial artist to “live” his art, to be immersed in it, in order to be effective combat fighter.

It was 20 years ago. Martial arts ware a high priority on our value list. We attended civilian self-defense instructor class run by late Eli Avikzar based on his Krav Maga (I.K.M.F.) style, that bring in diverse group of combat sport and martial art enthusiasts ranging from under 20 to over 50 years old and from fresh high school graduate to accomplished public figure, like novelist and boxer Eli Luxemburg.

My friend patiently listened to me and then said: “I can grab someone’s finger in a fight and break it off. I don’t want to, but I can – it’s not that difficult. It may induce pain shock and I’ll be victorious. But the question is: would you want to do anything with me after this? Do you want to be friend of someone like this?”

I shut my mouth for having nothing to say.


In civilian self-defense training, when coaching his student, instructor should take in account that for his student it’s “if” and “when” unlikely (hopefully) and unwanted scenario, and that been a trained fighter is secondary for his other social roles. Out of about 110 active hours per week good self-defense student will spend 6 and up to 8 hours in the training hall and no more (but may as little as four; any less will be insufficient). It represents no more then 8% of all his weekly activities. In the rest of the time he’s doing homework with kids, working with clients and partners, teaching, shopping, enjoying family and friends, and doing a plenty of other normal things where his fighting skills have no place.

So, to try to teach a middle-age elementary school teacher to gauge eye out from a head lock (as described in “American Combat Judo” by Bernard Cosneck, otherwise a good book with historical significance) is not a wise idea (besides of that this technique has little self-defense value).

Self-defense instructor should concentrate on

    conflict avoidance

    reading body signals indicating hostile intend

    reading body signals indicating beginning of attack

    attack prevention and preventive moves

    first response moves

    fight breaking techniques

    use weapon of opportunity

This priority list looks not very inspiring for enthusiast martial artist who is likely to be self-defense instructor. So, for benefit of the instructor (and to break it even with his students in excitement -:), self-defense class should be also martial art class of any suitable style (by instructor’s preference). Classes like “May-Ti for fitness and self-defense”, “Karate for fitness and self-defense”, “Jujutsu for fitness and self-defense”, “Krav Maga for fitness and self-defense” are legitimate realization of this idea. Such classes usually based on non-competitive styles (or at least non-Olympic) since clubs specializing in popular sporting styles, like Olympic Judo and Olympic Taekwondo, tend to be more tournament success oriented (as it affect personal standing of instructors in national and international federations) with little time for self-defense training, unless dedicated hours allocated to this activity only (but this is excellent option).



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