Deeper Teaching Questions

Deeper Teaching Questions

© Copyright 2016, tim boehlert


Yesterday (06/14/16) I listed some questions on a post by *a Martial Arts/SD instructor* that I felt were important to consider and discuss, specifically about Women’s Self-Defense, but really about all Self-Defense courses and all Martial Arts programs that promote their program as effective self-defense platforms.

My questions were meant to put a spotlight on what I find to be problems that I have seen over the last 8 years in Martial Arts in general that I also felt were worthy of consideration and open and frank discussion. Well, Frank couldn’t make it, so I welcome your input and feedback:

1) Does anyone teach about the other aspects of violence that will surely enhance a person’s abilities to deal with actual violence?:

  1. a) Verbal aspects:
    1. Verbal assault
    2. Verbal escalation
    3. Verbal de-escalation
    4. Verbal deflection
  1. b) Awareness aspects:
    1. Situational awareness
    2. Environmental awareness
  1. c) Psychological aspects:
    1. How you will be affected when it starts to go wrong?
    2.  How you will react to an extremely aggressive verbal assault?
    3.  How you will deal with an actual physical assault?
    4.  How you will deal with the aftermath?
    5.  How you will deal with the legal aspects?
    6. How you will deal with your reaction to your actions?
    7.  How you will deal with your feelings about your self-image?

2) How many start their programs/seminars with those aspects, and don’t immediately go to the physical aspects, the techniques or the principles?

3) Does anyone discuss ‘permission?’ It’s a concept that I learned about through Rory Miller, and I find that it’s an absolute MUST UNDERSTAND aspect for anyone to comprehend when dealing with violence. This needs to be discussed FIRST for anyone that considers taking a Self-Defense program. If you can understand Rory’s two-cents on this, it will make a huge difference in how you will be able to proceed with the remainder of your program. Your students need to first comprehend this concept and then accept it BEFORE you move forward. This will be one of the easiest but also hardest aspects of your program – easy to discuss, but hardest to accept. It represents a total mind shift to what we are accustomed to. It bends the golden rules of how most of us were raised, and that’s not going to be easy for anyone.

4) While I don’t ‘teach’ SD, combatives or Martial Arts, I do participate in my own way, and educate myself, and have been to other’s schools and seminars. I primarily read and view whatever I can – internet, books, blogs and videos, but I don’t recall ever seeing anyone discuss these specific aspects or advertise them either. You usually get the usual boxing gloves pic, or perhaps the Red-Man suit etc., but I never see the White Board, the students seated watching/listening to the teacher or other aspects – reading, or watching actual footage of assaults. I was just wondering WHY that is so, and if in fact it was just missing in the advertising, and/or in the actual classes. To me it seems of paramount importance to include this material up-front before even starting to teach anything about fighting back.

5) Does anyone teach about violence specifically? By that I mean, do you ever just gather and discuss what really happens in the world? Have any of you invited in a Dr. or an RN, a Mental Health Professional, a Law Enforcement Officer, a Coroner, a Funeral Home Director to talk about violence from their perspective? Do any of you actually show images of gunshot wounds, stab or slash wounds, and by that I mean the really graphic content?

6) Do any of you speak to the actual legal matters involved with Self-Defense? Do you speak to the legal system, the rights of the victim AND the aggressor? Show statistics of actual outcomes? Do you discuss HOW your training may be used against you in a court of law – pre-meditated actions that may likely be held against the victim that has trained?


I’m just really curious about HOW and WHAT we are actually disseminating to keep others safe. I deal with violence on a regular basis, and have lots of time to research, but also ponder about the outcomes. This is something to consider. While it may be done and forgotten after an altercation, are you prepared to step into court a few years down the line and testify as to your position and actions while ‘defending’ yourself? It happens.

Do you document these events, or teach your student to document properly? Have you prepared them for any of the legalities? Do you discuss justifiable actions and train HOW to properly explain your responses to violent encounters? Have you trained them to LOCATE witnesses and obtain statements from them or to direct law enforcement to them to do so? Have you given them the tools to create witnesses that will favor their side if called upon?

These are just a few of the things that I wonder about whenever I think about things that I’ve learned, and see missing, but that seem like as teachers we should be addressing.

© Copyright 2016, tim boehlert