The Five “Most Important” Concepts for Self Defense

A few weeks back I wrote a little post asking people to weigh-in on the five most important concepts to learn in self defense. We got quite a few responses, and as expected a vast majority of them were very similar in thought. For the most part it boiled down to these five concepts:

  • Accountability
  • Awareness: Internal and External
  • Mindset
  • Decision Making
  • Physical Ability

Now, though I tend to agree with this list, I put the words “most important” in quotes, because this is all opinion and more so a collective of opinion. You don’t have to agree with it, and to be honest, the exact listings are not really the point of this article.

The point of this article is to create some guidance… or thought at least about a few things.

If we do in fact agree that these five things are most important, then we have a mission that we can test our decisions off of.

For instance, if you are a self defense instructor, what do you teach in class? Do you hit all five of these? Only three? Only one? Why? Should you be doing more?

If you are hitting multiple concepts in classes, then it makes sense to ask how often? and what percentage? Are you stressing one concept over another? If so, why?

By having a mission or a focus, you can do a more meaningful job of quality control. Are you living up to your mission statement? If not, what needs to change? Is it the classes, curriculum, or structure? Or is it the mission?

Why do you do what you do? Why do you run classes the way you run them? Is it because someone else told you to and you just did? Is it because it brings more people through the door and/or is more lucrative? Is it because you don’t know any other way? Is it because this is what you truly believe is best?

I am not here, to tell you what is right or wrong, but it is important to make sure you are doing things for the right reasons.

Let’s take this another direction. Again, assuming you have identified the five most important concepts for self defense, you are posed with the following situations.

  • Your child approaches you because they are being bullied at school, what do you tell them in the next 20-60 minutes you have with them to better prepare them for this situation? If you know your core values on this, then how does the context determine what you say? do you discuss all five? Do you have the time? Do you need to? If not, then what is most important? How do a pair that five down to three? Or two? Or one?
  • A friend approaches you because their significant other or ex-significant other is being controlling, verbally abusive, physically abusive, threatening. They are looking for advice on how to handle the situation. What do you tell them?
  • You’re approached to give a 2 hour self defense training to a group you have ties to (church, place of employment, school, etc..). What do you discuss? How do you lay it out?
  • You are going to run a six week self defense class for a group you have ties to. It will meet once a week for six weeks. How does your plan change from the two hour seminar above?

We can play this game all day. The point is simply this. If you identify your core values or your mission statement, it makes creating plans and adapting to context much easier. It gives you direction. It allows you to sniff out bullshit easier. It allows you to measure your own bullshit.

There is A LOT of information out there. Thousands of instructors, and books, and videos, and tools for self defense. It is very hard for educated individuals to sort through all the shit, let alone someone that is new to this arena. It is important to understand what your context is and make sure your goals align with that.

Take this list (only if you agree with it) and hold it up to your training, your reading, your thinking, your teaching. Does it hold up?

If it doesn’t, don’t be upset, just seek change. That’s how you get better.

Be good, train hard, stay safe.


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