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Are You Qualified To Teach Self-Defense? Probably Not

Like many of you, I grew up watching (awesome) Kung Fu movies and surrounded by martial arts schools everywhere. In the beginning of the 80’s, not yet a teen, I joined a Karate Dojo and like a sponge, I listened and trusted that the Master was the ultimate guardian of the truth about all things related to fights.

I did all the steps with all the required enthusiasm. We were taught how to move forward, backward, punching, kicking, powerful defenses, sneaky leg swap and…against weapons.  We were hypothesized on the idea of “one punch and one kick kill” and at the same time we recited the Dojo Kun (training rules)…kind a mixed messages here 😀

Not until I was much older and a teacher myself, I started to meet people and have experiences that altered my understanding of what self-defense was –and wasn’t… in a hard way, having very frustrating experiences in real street fights and later during my Special Forces training. I found out, as much as I didn’t want to believe it, that while I could block, punch, and kick like those actors on tv, I didn’t really know much about real self-defense. Why? Just because the thugs on the street don’t play by my rules, and that’s the key point: rules.

I found out that even if I could block one attack, they wouldn’t stop. They kept coming with more and different attacks, the kind of attacks that I didn’t train because they were some random, so wild, so unfair. Well, street fights are unfair, dirty, messy and unpredictable, there isn’t any referee yelling to stop or a crowd cheering because you did a Jean-Claude Van Damme kind of kick.

I didn’t do this post to promote Krav Maga or my school, but when I see so many Martial Arts dojos promoting Self-Defense classes I have to say something. Guys, Martial Art is exactly that, an ART. Don’t ask a pet photographer to photograph Lions in Botswana, he/she will be eaten alive.

People who are truly unqualified to teach self-defense are passing on techniques and ideas that are absolute fantasy. The instructors mean well, many of them are simply doing what they were told to do –and they were taught not to question, but to listen and do as they were told. I don’t say that they don’t believe they’re “teaching” practical self-defense, but sadly they are not, only if you lived real life threats/attacks you would understand the meaning of Self-Defense. Or (probably the easiest way) you can learn hand-to-hand self-defense and fighting systems truly based in real life situations, people who can take away your fantasy self-defense curriculum and give you easy to practice pragmatic tools, tools that will enhance what you’ve learned, and what could make you a real self-defense teacher.

Self-defense shouldn’t be about business, about making money at all cost. It’s about teaching common people to defend themselves from any kind of attack on the street, this doesn’t mean that you’ll transform them into superheroes, only means that at the end of the day you will sleep well, knowing that because of you, someone is more confident, healthier and has more chances to survive.

By | 2017-11-01T11:35:49+00:00 August 4th, 2017|Uncategorized|4 Comments


  1. David Holford December 9, 2017 at 10:33 am - Reply


    I am very much interested in krav maga for a few reasons – its effectiveness (or at least thats what ive read…but never experienced it first hand), that im a step father of two fine young boys (8 and 10) with a future wife to be that I love dearly, and that somehow I feel that with everything I read or hear about these days has to do with growing hate, violence and fear. My 1st priority is the security of my family. Ive done a bit of judo (which I absolutely loved)…unfortunately, at 56 my body and my own misjudgements had it such that I suffered a separated quadricep…1 year of rehab.

    I feel that time is no longer on my side to become proficient in a given martial ART, such that i can be ready to parry any sudden, unforeseen circumstance.

    With all that blablabla here’s my question: you mention real life situations in class (which i can relate to in judo and aikido class…in the sense that we were erroneously following scripts) – how do you achieve these real life situations without training injuries ?

    As for yourself, what are your qualifications ?

    Thanks for your time,


    • V F December 9, 2017 at 11:38 am - Reply

      Hi David, thank you for your comment.
      First let me say that with 50 years you’re not old. I agree that your body probably doesn’t respond the same way, but for sure you compensate with experience.

      How can we prevent injuries? Well it’s all about intensity and protective gear. All our students have groin cup, gloves, shin pads and mouth guard. But this doesn’t mean that injuries can’t happen, so we use our best friend: Common Sense
      We try to copy real life situations with all the twists that may happen: i.e. after a groin kick, does he bend to the left? To the right? To the front? Is he alone? Does he have a weapon? Is he a biker and he still has his helmet?…
      As you can see in the same situation, you should adjust yourself and your following technique to what is actually happen and not only training one pre-made form where you train that and only that.

      About my bio you can find it on our website but I can tell you that before Krav Maga (which I started in the year 2000) I trained Karate (for 20 years), Zen Kutsu Kendo and Ninjutsu. Went to the Portuguese special Forces when I was 19 years old and working for some years as a nightclub security gave me the perspective of real life scenarios.

      Stay safe,

  2. Allan Palmerston August 31, 2018 at 5:47 am - Reply

    Nice, really need that kind of best friend. Maybe avoiding fight is the best self defense, but if you are already in that situation especially on the street anything is possible. Will you consider counter attack as self defense?

    • V F September 4, 2018 at 11:44 am - Reply

      Hi Allan, yes, of course, I totally agree with that avoiding a fight is the best option but we all know that sometimes it’s impossible.
      Yes, I do consider counter attack as self-defense, but I still prefer to act first (when I’m 100% sure that’s a dangerous situation).
      Stay safe,

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