PhilO

What forms of self defense could be a core subject in school?

38 posts in this topic

Some of my thoughts about the recent events at Virginia Tech led me to remember some of Robert Heinlein's science fiction stories, where self defense via martial arts is treated as a serious subject taught in school. So, I'd like to bring this up as a discussion topic.

My view is that it *should* be a natural, required school subject, for the simple fact that self defense is something virtually every human being needs to know at some point in their life. Some discussion points could be: age of introduction; types of self defense; basic training in a number of weapons, particularly ad hoc weapons; which martial arts could be most effectively taught on a large scale (e.g. Asian vs. recent inventions such as Israel's Krav Maga.)

The basic principle here is that it is a virtue to have the knowledge and skill to use one's mind to defend one's highest value against irrational attacks. It is obvious that the vast majority of American kids have no such knowledge, and certainly no self-defense mindset, even at a rudimentary level.

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My view is that it *should* be a natural, required school subject, for the simple fact that self defense is something virtually every human being needs to know at some point in their life. Some discussion points could be: age of introduction; types of self defense; basic training in a number of weapons, particularly ad hoc weapons; which martial arts could be most effectively taught on a large scale (e.g. Asian vs. recent inventions such as Israel's Krav Maga.)

The question is, would making it a required subject actually make the situation better? Assuming that we can overlook the issue of if it is right to force the minds of the teachers we expect to train our children, why would this training help?

I was required to take a lot of things in public school that made absolutely no sense, which I learned well enough to get an "A" in and promptly forgot as soon as the class was over. If they had required me to take self-defense training, I would have done the same, but the little thug that wanted to beat me up would have learned all kinds of things he would have found useful. I really don't think I want the government to use my tax dollars to teach martial arts to the thugs who might attack me and my family some day.

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Although I agree that people should be able to defend themselves I do not think that the government should be teaching our children defense.

I also do not think that most defense schools or tactics will really work against real, deadly criminals. There is a large difference between a little fist fight and a brawl to the death. When you get in a fight with someone on the street, how do you know how far he is going to take it? How do you know how far you will need to take it. If you start trading blows with someone are you willing to take it to the end if needed? I would say most people, even with proper martial arts training are not willing to do it. If someone walks up to a person at a red light mad because they accidently cut them off and starts punching them, how do you think the average person will react. Fighting in a class or even in a controled surrounding is a lot different than trading blows where there is no judge nor someone to stop it.

Lastly, I do think it is the proper metaphysical standard to take. That being that the world is a horrible and terrible place that unless I stay inside I am not going to be safe. My grandmother never had any instruction in fighting and lived to be 80. My mother has never had any instruction in fighting and is going to be 63. I just do not think the world is that bad that all of us need to know how to defend or kill every jerk on the street.

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... I just do not think the world is that bad that all of us need to know how to defend or kill every jerk on the street.

The biggest direct physical threat is currently from the government.

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My view is that it *should* be a natural, required school subject, for the simple fact that self defense is something virtually every human being needs to know at some point in their life.

"Defense Against the Dark Arts" is a subject Harry Potter and his fellow students are required to study at Hogwarts, but I don't see self-defense as a proper course for the regular curriculum that should properly just consist of literature, history, mathematics, and science. I think it is fine for parents to provide such training as an after-school extracurricular activity. Many of the martial arts make a fine sport or physical exercise and firearms training is useful for sport as well as self-defense.

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I should have stressed, for what it's worth, that my intended context were rationally run private schools. I wouldn't trust public schools to do anything right.

Athletics are considered a normal part of almost any school curriculum, at all levels, public and private. I don't see why appropriately taught self-defense methods couldn't be a part of such a curriculum. It would certainly be far more potentially useful than playing various organized sports.

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...Many of the martial arts make a fine sport or physical exercise and firearms training is useful for sport as well as self-defense.

I would like to ask any reader how many street fights or real self-defense situations have you been in. I would think not that many as most Objectivist are against irrational violence and going out looking for a fight. I think the type of situation that Phil is talking about will not allow for many chances at taking or giving blows. If this situation ever arrived you would not be fighting the local bully but people such as Richard Kuklinski (The Iceman), or dealing with nuts like Jeffrey Dahmer.

Richard Kuklinski was known to have killed people just to try out a new weapon. He once shot a man in the head with a compound bow and arrow to see if it really worked. The man that was shot was doing nothing to Richard Kuklinski except bending down to give directions. Another time a man once made him mad while playing pool, so he took a pool stick and beat him to death. At a heigth of 6 ft 5 inches and around 300 pounds your punches or kicks are going to do very little to stop someone like this.

Could guns prove to bring about a different story, yes. But that is not what Phil's original question was asking. And, I do not remember being allowed to bring a gun to my college classes and I do not believe it has changed.

Unless most of the people on this Forum are a lot more brutal than I think. I do not think spending time learning something that one will almost never use is worthy of someone's time to learn. I would instead recommend just staying away from areas where getting in situations like I described are more likely to happen. I also think spending my time and effort trying to create a wonderful life would do me more good than taking blows in a gym which for most, almost never transfers to real life.

Just my thoughts on the subject, of course you can all disagree.

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I also do not think that most defense schools or tactics will really work against real, deadly criminals. There is a large difference between a little fist fight and a brawl to the death.

I would say that doesn't exhaust the possibilities. My view is that any fight is a serious fight. If some moron wants "a little fist fight", as far as I am concerned they can end up on the ground with a few broken bones. If they want more than that, then really let them have it. Proper training wouldn't let it be a "brawl", which connotes untrained, brute violence. That's exactly my point. It is true that the vast majority of people feel disarmed in the face of brutality - and my point is that well trained right should be able to defeat thuggery.

My point of view on this is said best by Ragnar Danneskold:

"One of these centuries, the brutes, private or public, who believe that they can rule their betters by force, will learn the lesson of what happens when brute force encounters mind and force."

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At a heigth of 6 ft 5 inches and around 300 pounds your punches or kicks are going to do very little to stop someone like this.

Are you suggesting that being 6'5" and 300 pounds and angry represents an implacable force that a well trained smaller man cannot defeat short of a gun? Much smaller Bruce Lee could have taken him apart without working up a sweat. Yes, of course, even most trained individuals aren't up to that skill level, but even periodic training would certainly make somebody better able to handle that situation. A well placed hard kick-in to the kneecap is going to bring Mr. 6'5" down in a hurry, for instance. Is he going to be doing much running with a broken knee? And that hardly exhausts the possible attack points.

No rational man is going to look for a fight. The context is when escape is impossible or riskier than response.

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I thought PhilO's initial question was a very good one. (Personally, I think people should be taught self defense and how to deal with deadly situations when they are adults, not children.) But I'm somewhat surprised at the negative responses. In the thread discussing the massacres, some people wondered about how so many people could be killed with a small caliber handgun unless they were just standing around letting themselves be shot, offering no resistance. Somehow, running at an armed man with a gun was preferable to just standing by and letting him shoot you in the head. Yet, most here don't want to provide some training to prepare people to deal with deadly situations. Can someone explain this to me? How is an average person going to be prepared psychologically and phsyically to deal with a situation that few will ever face in their lifetime?

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How is an average person going to be prepared psychologically and physically to deal with a situation that few will ever face in their lifetime?

I took a 3-hour Women's Self-Defense class many years ago and I have felt confident I could deal with such situations ever since then.

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Are you suggesting that being 6'5" and 300 pounds and angry represents an implacable force that a well trained smaller man cannot defeat short of a gun? Much smaller Bruce Lee could have taken him apart without working up a sweat. Yes, of course, even most trained individuals aren't up to that skill level, but even periodic training would certainly make somebody better able to handle that situation.

I am not sure martial art should be a required subject in school but I do think it is a good idea for after school activity. Benefits (some in common with any sport type activity): effective self-defense, physical self-confidence, self-respect, self-discipline, focus, responsibility. My son is starting his introduction to Yoshinkan Aikido this coming Monday. From what I read this style is unique in its effectiveness of controlling and minimizing aggressive behavior no matter how large or powerful the aggressor. For that reason, it has been deemed mandatory training in Tokyo for all female police officers, and Tokyo’s Riot Police candidates must attain 1st degree black belt status before qualifying to join the squad.

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Well, not there is anything wrong with being 6'5" and slightly overweight :) Not all of us are psychopaths.

That said my high school featured self-defense for the female students.

As to the original question. I do not believe that it is the governments place to say whether I or anyone else should take martial arts for any purpose whatsoever. It is outside their jurisdiction so to speak. That of course leaves out discussion about the current climate of government interference already in the curriculum.

As for discussion about particular styles of martial arts, even if your policy was implemented I don't believe a school environment would be the place to teach a "style of martial arts". As far as purely self-defense is concerned it would be a lot easier to learn a few techniques for a variety of different attacks. For instance teaching students a basic punch and a kick. And how to deliver it with power and accuracy to vulnerable target areas such as groin, hands (fingers), nose, eyes etc.. as well as a few basic grapples and throws. To learn a martial arts style takes a lot of dedication which isn't guaranteed in a forced environment.

If you keep it basic and to bare essentials even the most bored and uninterested student may pick up enough knowledge to break an attack and run for the lives. Fighting back isn't always an option, and not usually a recommended one. As has already been mentioned, you can never know how far the assailant wishes to go. Better to break and run than to find out in my opinion. That way you can deliver a timely and effective report to the police.

------------------------

In response to the apparent violent appraisal of martial artists I must reply that martial arts can be a very rewarding experience. Leaving out the combative side of things (including self-defense) it is a very good method of developing speed, strength, and flexibility. It also aids co-ordination and cardiovascular fitness. So as a purely physical pursuit it has major benefits for heath and wellbeing. Of course there are many physical pursuits that aid in those areas, not just martial arts. (you just have to discard many of the mystic eastern philosophies they bombard you with while you are learning [though that is really only a problem in traditional eastern styles])

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Still no one has answered my question of how many of you have actually been in a fight and felt the real brutality of a punch, kick, knife or anything else that can do a lot of damage. And, as for building self-confidence there are many more ways to build it than through martial arts that are less costly to the body. I am not saying that people should not learn some type of defense, but according to the context of your life. Someone could spend a large amount of their time learning something that they get to use once in a life time if at all. How many of you have actually been in a struggle with someone and had to throw punches or kicks to get free or survive? And if you have been in a struggle, how often has this happened? No one needs to spend hours upon hours to learn how to kick someone in the groin, poke their fingers in someone's eye or puch someone in the throat. These are all items that someone could learn in a short amount of time and never forget nor need to practice often.

Lets say the average martial artist spends at least 15 hours a week to become proficient. Now times that by 52 weeks, times that again by 15, 20, 40 or more years all for one battle/struggle, maybe. A rational person would not spend a huge sum of their limited resources for less than a minute of reward, at least I do not think so. Spending that many resources for a once in a life-tme event would be like me putting a pool in my yard that cost me $70,000 and only getting in it once over the next 40 years.

I do not remember seeing in the news many administrative assistants, computer technicians, business owners, medical professionals and others ever having to fight on a day to day basis. The situation we are talking about is for most a once in a life-time event. I do not mean we will not see anything like it again, just that a regular person will probably never go through a situation like that more than once in a life-time.

Finally to answer your question Phil. Richard Kuklinski and people like him would not stand and trade blows with you, they would just shoot you or kill you in another way and not care how many levels of black belt you might have nor what your name was.

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I think an important distinction that needs to be made is whether you are talking about Self-Defense or Martial-Arts--they aren't the same thing.

I think a good analogy is that what Engineering is to Physics, Self-Defense is to Martial-Arts.

If you were to do a Martial-Art, it would need to be something that you can do full-speed day in day out almost like a recreational-sport. Martial-Arts like Jiu-Jitsu, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Sambo, and Kickboxing, that one can do relatively full-speed without injury show the greatest results in terms of application to military, police, and personal self-defense.

There are a lot of people that think that the moment you make something into a sport then it can no longer be used as self-defense: my response would be to go test your hypothesis against a boxer or collegiate wrestler and see how it works out. I think there are a lot of Black-Belts out there in certain Martial-Arts who would get their clock's-cleaned by just an average to good Boxer or Wrestler.

I almost do wish that Martial-Arts were required in America, because I agree with Theodore Roosevelt and Jigoro Kano's view that a strong society or nation is built off of physically and mentally tough men that are best built by combative-sports like boxing, wrestling or Judo; no matter how smart and advanced your country is, if it is a nation of pansies then you are just begging to be invaded and conquered. However, I think that this is something that shouldn't be forced.

If I ran a private-school, I think I would make taking an elective-sport a requirement, and then amongst the choices there would be things like boxing, wrestling, Judo and Jiu-Jitsu.

But I do agree with RayK that spending a huge amount of time on a self-defense course would be pointless if you were living a normal civilian life: unless you lived in some remarkably dangerous city during the fall of civilization, there really isn't much of a reason to spend countless hours of your life training how to defend against and disarm someone with a knife, a gun, a pool-stick, etc.

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Self defense is about ending a violent attack, not having a fight. Courses that I know of (no net links unfortunately) tend to run for a few hours (typically 10) and are usually spread over a few weeks. Betsy Speicher has already stated in a previous post in this thread that her course lasted 3 hours. The accomplishment of the highest rank of a Martial-Art merely for the purpose of Self-Defense is a waste of time. One would need other reasons for the pursuit of such a goal.

I disagree with the need to mention anything about whether anyone has been in a fight or not, however.

To address Paul's Here's question (I missed it in my previous post)... I don't believe anyone here is saying that the pursuit of Self-Defense training is a bad thing. Just bad that it be forced by the government into the school curriculum. Ask a question involving the government initiation of force in an Objectivist forum, one can only expect a negative response. I haven't been following the thread concerning the massacre that closely so I can not comment further.

I also agree that Self-Defense training is a good idea, if voluntarily chosen. I can see the rational validity of the pursuit of that particular goal. However it is not our responsibility if others can not.

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I disagree with the need to mention anything about whether anyone has been in a fight or not, however.

I disagree with your disagreement. The reason I mentioned whether someone has actually been in a fight is to point out how much effort could be spent in an endeavor to "be ready" for something that is most likely never going to come.

But, I agree that if people want to spend their time doing something that I think could be better spent, I have no power beyond rational discussion to persuade them.

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If I ran a private-school, I think I would make taking an elective-sport a requirement, and then amongst the choices there would be things like boxing, wrestling, Judo and Jiu-Jitsu.

But I do agree with RayK that spending a huge amount of time on a self-defense course would be pointless if you were living a normal civilian life: unless you lived in some remarkably dangerous city during the fall of civilization, there really isn't much of a reason to spend countless hours of your life training how to defend against and disarm someone with a knife, a gun, a pool-stick, etc.

I see nothing wrong with some basic level of self-defense training that could be augmented with more advanced optional courses. As far as the time argument goes, how many hundreds of hours of athletics are mandated when you add it all up K-12? I would far rather have learned some useful martial art than playing some pointless game.

And, thanks for the rest of your post.

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No one needs to spend hours upon hours to learn how to kick someone in the groin, poke their fingers in someone's eye or puch someone in the throat. These are all items that someone could learn in a short amount of time and never forget nor need to practice often.

Who's disagreeing? So why isn't even some basic level of self-defense being taught? Gets back to my original question.

I do not remember seeing in the news many administrative assistants, computer technicians, business owners, medical professionals and others ever having to fight on a day to day basis. The situation we are talking about is for most a once in a life-time event. I do not mean we will not see anything like it again, just that a regular person will probably never go through a situation like that more than once in a life-time.

Leaving aside the questionable assumption about "once in a lifetime", here's a question: Do you fail to pay for car and house and other insurance because of the low probability that you'll ever need it? If you do, why do you? It's a fair bit of money isn't it?

Look at the news again. A large bit of the news is comprised of stories about criminal events, where an innocent person was attacked. And that greatly under-reports smaller criminal events. If decent people did not need to be concerned about the bad guys, there would be no need for the police - and the police are unlikely to help you at the moment you need it.

Finally to answer your question Phil. Richard Kuklinski and people like him would not stand and trade blows with you, they would just shoot you or kill you in another way and not care how many levels of black belt you might have nor what your name was.

I am not going to argue that point any further, but there are a number of things wrong with your example. First of all, a large number of possible assailants do not fit that description (I'd never heard of him before but he was a "hit man" for the Gambino crime family, hardly the usual criminal - he was an assassin that relied on the unexpected.)

And secondly, I reject your idea that this person would be unstoppable against a well trained smaller man without a gun. Or - somebody else *with* a gun, there is that too.

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I have done a little bit of research on the subject of martial-arts & self-defense and here is what I have gathered.

1) There are simple, effective ways to disabble opponents, but they are pretty gruesome and civilized people have strong prejudices against using them. Those methods are currently not taught in the vast majority of self-defence classes. It's infinitely harder to block, stop, immobilize an opponent if you don't want to inflict a disabling level of injury.

2) Practicing those methods is actually not easy because you need a sparring partner wearing full protective attire. This is the only way to practice effectively.

3) Most people, even reasonably well trained, cannot fight off a violent opponent because they lack the preparation for the emotional and physical responses. Most aggressors are used to inflicting and suffering some degree of violence and that gives them an amazing edge. I am not talking about the skills, but the ability to receive pain.

4) The only way for a smaller person - say a woman - to effectively fight off a stronger attaquer is by using a force multiplier, preferably a gun. Short of training multiple hours a day or being willing, able, and prepared to inflict very gory damage to an opponent, a smaller person cannot reliably expect to fight off a larger person used to violence un-armed.

5) Basic and effective empty handed combat requires surprisingly little teaching because it relies on gross motor skills and no more than a handful of tricks. A few hours of training in World War 2-style combatives will do that. It's constant practice which is needed. See some articles on the subject here:

http://www.gutterfighting.org/Main.html

6) Most martial arts are sports, and they don't teach self-defense. To the extent that they do, most methods taught would constitute assault under current laws.

The man who introduced me to Objectivism, Phil Elmore (he's since move away from O) is a dedicated practitioner of self-defense skills and writer on the subject. He publishes an online mag on the subject and annimates a forum:

Site: http://www.themartialist.com/

Forum: http://www.paxbaculum.com/forums/index.php

There's a lot of good reliable info on the net on real life self defence. There's also a lot of bad, msleading info.

I actually think that an effective SD class could be taught in school, but it should rely mostly on how to evade (not prevent) violence in the first place. Always identify alternate exits, be aware of your surroundings, identify potential improvised weapons, etc, is good preparation.

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1) There are simple, effective ways to disabble opponents, but they are pretty gruesome and civilized people have strong prejudices against using them. Those methods are currently not taught in the vast majority of self-defence classes. It's infinitely harder to block, stop, immobilize an opponent if you don't want to inflict a disabling level of injury. [...]

What should be taught is what works. Disabling an irrational attacker isn't pretty but one isn't dealing with the normal.

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3) Most people, even reasonably well trained, cannot fight off a violent opponent because they lack the preparation for the emotional and physical responses.

I agree that you won't develop such skills during 3h SD class. When studying martial art however such physical/emotional responses are more automatized.

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The man who introduced me to Objectivism, Phil Elmore (he's since move away from O) is a dedicated practitioner of self-defense skills and writer on the subject. He publishes an online mag on the subject and annimates a forum:

Site: http://www.themartialist.com/

Forum: http://www.paxbaculum.com/forums/index.php

Joss, I'm going to politely say that I wouldn't exactly call Phil Elmore a reliable source for martial-arts or self-defense:

http://www.bullshido.net/modules.php?name=...es&id_cat=5

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1) There are simple, effective ways to disabble opponents, but they are pretty gruesome and civilized people have strong prejudices against using them. Those methods are currently not taught in the vast majority of self-defence classes. It's infinitely harder to block, stop, immobilize an opponent if you don't want to inflict a disabling level of injury.

What are these simple effective ways?

2) Practicing those methods is actually not easy because you need a sparring partner wearing full protective attire. This is the only way to practice effectively.

3) Most people, even reasonably well trained, cannot fight off a violent opponent because they lack the preparation for the emotional and physical responses. Most aggressors are used to inflicting and suffering some degree of violence and that gives them an amazing edge. I am not talking about the skills, but the ability to receive pain.

This is why martial-arts that can be practiced almost like full-speed sports work so well: because you acquire a lot of experience practicing those techniques in physically intimate and violent situations. This is even true of sports like boxing or wrestling: if a boxer were suddenly surprised with a sucker-punch on the street, he could more than likely recover and defend himself well, because he has spent so many hours getting punched hard that he knows how to maintain his composure and counter. The same would be true for someone who did sport-wrestling and was suddenly tackled by some big thug on the street: the wrestler would have a lot of experience in being up close and physically rough, and would be able to recover and place himself in a physically dominant position so as to beat the attacker senseless.

6) Most martial arts are sports, and they don't teach self-defense. To the extent that they do, most methods taught would constitute assault under current laws.
Ok, but like I said: do you really think that a blackbelt in Judo or even a competent boxer/kickboxer would be incapable of defending themselves because what they do can not explicitly or literally be called self-defense?

From what I've read, the Russian and American militaries now use self-defense systems that are based on a mixture of grappling-arts/sports like Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Sambo (all from the Jiu-Jitsu family of martial-arts) with striking-arts like kickboxing. They take the martial-art that is practiced like a sport (Judo, BJJ, Sambo, Kickboxing) and they apply the principles to situations like disarming a man with a gun, or escaping from a man strangling you from behind, etc.

This is how I think proper self-defense should be done, and this why I brought up the analogy of what Engineering is to Physics (or just abstract Science in general), self-defense is to martial-arts. In standard Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes, no, we don't train self-defense day in day out (defending against armed attackers, etc.). However, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu blackbelts can still collaborate with military self-defense instructors to apply the principles of BJJ to specific self-defense situations. And they do actually, the United States military uses Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu techniques, and there are a number of self-defense books from BJJ instructors out on the market.

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Carlos,

I'm actually not an active participant on his forum, and I don't really read the Martialist. But his site is a good starting point for various resources on the internet, and he's certainly done a lot of work on the subject. There is a tremendous amount of immaturity in the SD community, with some people becoming near cultish about a particular style or mentor, etc. When I started interacting with Phil he was strongly on the no non-sense side of things and was fighting dilligently fads and trollish behavior. Not knowing anything about this bullshido site, I am going to keep giving Phil the benefit of the doubt.

If people are looking for real experts on SD, I recommend looking up Masab Ayoob, Don Pentecost, and Animal MacYoung at http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/. Actually, MacYoung's site is a great resource for real life SD, and is a must-read in my opinion for any non-law enforcement officer seeking information on SD. Readding the site back and forth should reinforce that the best SD is to evade dangerous situations.

~Sophia~,

please re-read my post. I am not talking about skills but emotional and physical responses. Those can probably be trained but not by normal SD or martial arts classes (unless you're prepared to do full-contact boxing, for example, which would certainly teach one how to deal with pain, exhaustion, and adrenaline highs and lows).

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