There are a lot of questions regarding which martial arts are best for self defence, and lots of claims from certain arts as to why their approach is the most effective. Here at MAP we've always said that generally self defence (SD) is a separate subject away from regular martial arts classes and this thread is here to explain why and to assist those looking for SD. There are a few basics that aren't covered in regular martial arts classes and that should certainly be understood by anyone claiming to teach self defence. The law and your rights Verbal de-escalation Types of aggressor Key responses to aggression The law and your rights Here in England we are bound by the same set of laws. That is they don't change from city to city, but this certainly isn't the case for other countries, so there isn't a one size fits all. It's important that your instructor is aware of local laws. Some countries permit the carrying of weapons, some don't, but as mentioned at the start of this thread, this isn't something mentioned in a regular training session. Verbal de-escalation You will see an attempt at verbal de-escalation in SD drills, but do they go far enough? Does your training partner understand their role here? Your defences will only be effective if you're given the correct cues. Is the attacker playing the role of a burglar, sexual attacker, someone on drugs, or perhaps someone who has had too much to drink? Different types of aggressor will reach differently to verbal and physical cues, so the role and understanding of the attacker is vital. So when you shout, "back off", who are you shouting it too? It may be that your aggressor reacts poorly to an order like that and that should be reflected in their response. Types of aggressor I personally have never been to a martial arts class where this has been fully explained, even during SD sessions. You may face reactive aggression. Perhaps from someone who is just having a bad day and takes out their anger on you. It may be pathological aggression, so drink and drugs. A basic understanding is necessary, as each aggressor is going to react differently. Key responses to aggression You can respond without being physical. "Help me understand what you mean", may be enough to diffuse physical conflict. Batari's box describes it well. http://changingminds.org/explanations/behaviors/betari_box.htm So already we've indicated several things that aren't included in many martial arts classes, but what about those schools that claim to teach SD? The problem with many classes is the level of realism. The techniques look nasty enough, but if you take a look at the following video you'll see that the aggressor stops as soon as the victim starts to fight back. [ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjmBPFPTq-g"]The Best Krav Maga practitioner in the World - YouTube[/ame] Here is a good scenario based video and you can see how after just 30 seconds the practitioners are completely out of breath. This is as much from the adrenaline rush as it is dealing with two guys chasing you across the street. This drill could be done again with all parties in head gear and body armour and punches, kicks and elbows being thrown. [ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXP1DTKG1Ng"]Self-Defense Instructor vs 2 Street Thugs - YouTube[/ame] In regard to training in armour there are a couple of methods you can use. The first is to have one person in armour and the other without it. The person in the armour is instructed to react as they would without it. That is to say if they're hit with enough force they go down. [ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IzUXoNF9Sw"]The Approach_vol8_full_contact.mp4 - YouTube[/ame] Some are not so keen on this method and prefer to have all parties in armour. [ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6hLJcJNmbo"]Self Defence Scenario Training and Pressure Testing - YouTube[/ame] As you can see from both examples this isn't sparring. While I'm sure we'd all rather face someone who had never done any sparring, sparring generally doesn't prepare you for the industrial bad language, the posturing, multiple attackers, weapons and different scenarios. So in summary I hope now the difference between a regular martial arts class and SD training is a little clearer. Train in whatever art you chose because you love it. If you do have an interest in SD then seek it out as a separate subject. You don't need to move away from your regular class, in fact SD training will enhance it, as you'll look at how you apply yourself and your techniques in a whole new light. I hope also that you can see not all SD classes are created equally. There is a place for SD in a martial arts class, as long as the instructor explains the difference between a martial arts technique and one that can be applied in SD.