I just returned from Bonny Eagle High School, a local school, where I taught a group of 24 seniors an 1 1/2 hour self defense class. I have probably done a couple of hundred very short self-defense seminars such as these over the years, and I draw a few distinctions between teaching martial arts and teaching a self defense seminar.
Let’s be clear – the martial arts I teach are 100% geared towards self defense. The people who come and train with me week in and week out get very good at purse self defense very fast. However, I can’t teach a 1 1/2 hour seminar the same way I teach the people who train with me 4 hours a week for years. The main issue is time. What kind of training can I impart in a very short 1 1/2 hour class?
To toot my own horn – I can teach awesome advice, strategies, and techniques in 1 1/2 hours that can save lives. Over the years I have boiled down a curriculum to a complete array of useful tools. Yes, I mentioned the “t” word – technique. This is the big difference between my regular classes and the one-off seminars – I focus on several high-value techniques. There just isn’t the time to teach concepts and principles and have people go through the exercises to internalize them.
The students in my seminars will get some very important concepts and principles as part of the teaching, and I have sneaky ways of getting people to learn them without learning. Most “the 10 deadliest moves to win any street fight” type courses you can buy off the Internet teach a set of “unstoppable” techniques – most rehash the same old stuff over and over.
For the technique approach to work with beginners in a seminar setting the techniques must be:
- versatile – able to work from various angles, under different types of attacks etc.
- large muscle movement based – small muscle groups and complex motor skills will not function correctly under stress
- easy – the techniques must not require extreme balance, flexibility, or coordination
- stackable – the techniques must leave room for follow-up techniques, suicide throws and the like are not great
- simple – one or two steps, large target areas, etc.
When I teach in the seminar setting the teaching must be fun, fast paced, but still allow room to inculcate the skills I want to impart. I’ve developed some teaching methods which I have found maximize retention and understanding in a short time.