Today I was inspired by this story about a local grandmother who single-handedly fought off two armed home invaders. I was inspired because this story highlights how untrue many statements are that I’ve heard from martial arts and self defense ‘experts’.
Let’s break down a few myths that I’ve been trying to debunk for years:
Self Defense Myths Perpetuated By Experts
- You can’t fight multiple attackers
- You need years of training to defend yourself
- All fights wind up as a wrestling match on the ground
- You can’t fight armed people without getting killed
- Untrained people just freeze up
- You have to be in great shape to defend yourself
In my experience, most instructors out there get their ideas about self defense from the same place most people do – movies and the TV. They also tend to think in absolutes like “never”, and “always”.
Here’s an absolute that makes sense: “Every situation is different”.
Here’s what I would rather hear:
- Defending yourself from multiple opponents is hard, but it’s definitely been done and can be done.
- Untrained people defend themselves successfully every day. Training makes you better at defending yourself.
- It’s a good idea to learn how to disengage if you’re ever grounded. Some self defense situations wind up with both opponents on the ground, but you don’t want to go there if at all possible.
- Weapons are always to be considered dangerous. Sometimes armed assailants wound or kill their targets, but this isn’t a definite outcome.
- Sometimes people freeze up, even trained people. But there are a range of reactions including fight or flight that are more common. Most people are not good at predicting what would happen to them or others under duress.
- Fitness is a definite advantage in self defense situations. However, unfit people can be skilled. Skilled and unskilled people defend themselves successfully every day. If your self defense training requires you to be in peak physical condition to execute, it might be less effective when you are sick, injured, or elderly.
You do not need to be some kind of commando trained lethal weapon to defend yourself from most common situations. Real self defense is not about fighting like you see it in the movies.