Posted: February 18, 2005

I have spent many years teaching law enforcement officers who have no time to waste with useless techniques. What they need is something that works and the conditioning and stamina to execute these techniques in a high intensity confrontation.

I recently enrolled a new student who possessed the characteristics of the ideal student – polite, respectful and willing to learn. She told me that she was a police officer who was looking to polish her defensive skills. She had abandoned her membership in a competitor’s school because the classes lacked any practical application. Nothing that was being taught was of any use on the streets. The system was chock full of flashy jumping and spinning kicks, which are perfect for the movies, but disastrous for self-defense.

I feel that it is my obligation as a marital arts instructor to prepare not only police officers, but also the general public, for such confrontations. Unfortunately, some martial artists are making a lot of money marketing a lot of empty promises. I had a new student who decided to spend $2,500 on a 4 hour seminar in California that promised a lot of fancy fighting techniques and a certificate of completion. When he returned, I was curious to see what $2,500 could buy in 4 hours. I asked him to show us. In order to do this, I had to find him an opponent. I looked around and decided to pair him up with an 18-year-old woman who had been training with us for only one month. The only rule I set to this match was that she was to use what she learned here and he was to use what he learned at the seminar. It took all but 30 seconds for this young lady to bring him to his knees. So much for the seminar!!

Another student came to my school with world class martial arts credentials. By this I mean lots of titles, trophies and medals. He said that he was the best and he only trained with the best. He boasted about paying his last instructor $18,000 for one year. We enrolled him in the group class where we do a lot of two-person drills. I paired him up with a heavy student who could throw a decent roundhouse kick to the leg. It took this student two shots to the leg to hurt this world class champion. He was too embarrassed to come back after this episode.

Our police officer has been training with us for a few months and is pleased with her progress. To her, training is not about belts, trophies or flashy techniques – it is about survival. When choosing a martial art school, choose the practical path. Ask yourself, “Are they teaching me something that could one day save my life?” If you haven’t had enough experience to know the difference, find someone who does and bring them with you before you sign a contract and turn over your money.

"Our police officer has been training with us for a few months and is pleased with her progress. To her, training is not about belts, trophies or flashy techniques – it is about survival."