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Andrew Carr-Locke
Andrew Carr-Locke's picture
The Most Common Teaching Lessons in Protection

Hello Eveyone, 

I have been on this forum for a little while, but until now have not been posting here. Recently I have opened a Security Agency in Toronto, Ontario and am now promoting and teaching Self-protection classes and programs. Our core is the professional security guard Use of Force program. I am now being asked more frequently if we have anything for those who are not trained professionals in the industry. 

What are the most common lessons you feel that are required teaching in Self-protection, self-defence, or street awareness programs. Whatever you call the program itself- I am looking at a civilian level response options to common questions, or commonly asked for lessons in your expereince. 

Jr cook
Jr cook's picture

First thing that comes to mind is not a specific lesson but this comes up all the time, especially when starting new material. The question itself is usually phrased something like:

"Ok, but what if he does this...?"

No matter what lessons we are covering, once we get into the physical part of training it seems that someone always asks the "what if?" question. I think this can be a useful learning opportunity but it can also easily become a distraction from the original lesson.

Not quite the answer you were looking for but more of a heads-up for working in a civillian self-defense setting. I just keep reminding everyone (including myself) that there are no shortcuts. Hope this is useful.

Stevenson's picture


Are you familiar with Sgt Rory Miller's work? If you aren't I can strongly recommend his books - in particular "Facing Violence" which is, in my opinion, the definitive look at this question. It's extremely well written and provides are framework with regards to tackling this subject. I am certain Iain, who is a friend of Rory's would agree.

Rory's particular speciality is courses in violence for martial artists. As he puts it; "What is the point of spending 20 years studying answers, if you don't know what the question is?" He emphasises understanding the psychology of bad guys and potential threats and identifying when there might be a threat, and how it will manifest, and understanding how your martial konwledge fits in with actual real world violence, and its consequences. The information is valuable for non-martial artists too, but he does focus on trying to dispel myths and hubris of the typical martial artists who has little if any experience of real world violence.

I cannot recommend his stuff more highly.

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

It's been my experiences that when people really want to learn "what works" for self defense, they think it it will just be techniques they can memorize or something, so the first thing is to get them to understand this requires a whole framework and shift in their own views, rather than specifics. Providing they have no experience of violence themselves, in which case they might be easier to catch up to speed.

I agree with the suggestion of Rory Millers books. Iain's Stuff is great, Kane and Wilder's Little Black Book of violence and How to Win a Fight are both really good, and also really accessible.

Other than that the most common questions i've gotten are "how do you defend a roundhouse kick" and "what if he knows BJJ".

Suffice to say these sorts of questions are sigh-inducing ;)

If you are teaching people who  have never even been around any kind of violence at all there really is nothing you can take for granted, everything needs explanation and context.

JWT's picture


Precisely what I teach depends on the audience, their needs and the time I have managed to negotiate having with them.  Obviously those that train with me regularly who are essentially following my instructor training programme) get a great deal more (including subjects not listed below) than those who are seeing me as part of a course.

This is roughly what I cover for self protection:

Lecture / Discussion presentation(s):

Use of force and the law - the legal framework that should underpin training

Safety strategies - common sense approaches to reduce the odds of becoming a target Attacker behaviour patterns and strategies (including real event footage discussion) Personal motivation, fear management and physiology awareness (ie human reactions under pressure) Attacker aims and motivation Verbal Situation Management skills and escape strategies Crime statistics and patterns (including Blade awareness) Sexual Predator / Conman strategies Physical Training: Exactly what I cover depends on how long I have a group for. Body language and physical movement Vulnerable points of the human body Gross motor striking skills translated from common movements (against pads) Flinching and moving from flinches into striking Defending against HAOV Gender specific full contact scenario replication The most common questions?  Usually, after a talk to a large audience... 1. How many fights have you been in? 2. When were you last in a fight? 3. What about Tony Martin? (I say common - that happens about once every 10 courses) I can't remember the last time someone asked me a 'what if he does this? ' question - the way we train people these days they can usually see the answer for themselves.
Andrew Carr-Locke
Andrew Carr-Locke's picture

Hello All, 

Thank you for taking the time to respond. I have been busy as of late, and didn't reply once I saw the responses come in. Just wanted to drop a note and let you all know that your insights and information helped and although there wasn't an immediate reply from me, I was reading the comments as they came in. Cheers. 

miket's picture

That's a nice outline, John, sincerely.  You mentioned already that you customize it as occassion warrants. One thing I noted:  Might I suggest inclusion of a short section on 'improvised weapons'?   My feeling is, if an instructor is doing a 'Saturday seminar level-event, poeple are far better served (from a purely physical skills standpoint) with a short section on 'gettings something in their hands' than with comparative 'overtraining' in physical skills they are not likely to master in an afternoon anyway.   (That's not directed at your course in any way.  As I have gotten older I have gotten a lot more critcial of teh idea of such short sessions to begin with for the reason I just mentioned.  They are certainly 'better than nothing' but 'not by much' from a physical standpoint). Occassionally, we do a short section in such sessions (whcih I do admit to occassionally teaching despite such reservations.  :-)) with a 'pointed object' (i.e. pen, dinner fork, hand-stick-- literally a stick, not a yawara or such, etc.); an 'edged object' (by which I don't mean 'blade', necessarily, I mean anything made of metal or plastic with a durable hard edge, but sometimes including a discussion of blades like scissors etc, one favorite is a round nosed butter knife. :-)), a 'long object',  (fending and poking), and a 'corded object' (flail)...  we also occasionally use book bags or purses (sheilds and for impact), heavy books or picture frames, whatever.  Much of this ends up being demo or lecture but we do let participants do a short section of physical skills with a variety of objects we bring in... ice brush from a car, ruler, metal stapler, cell phone, etc.  The focus is placed on surprise, wounding, and range more than it is on specific weapons tactics. Obvioulsy, we are not trying to 'train partcipants in the subtle arts of book bag defense', more we are trying to cement the concepts of 1) if possible, 'arm yourself to whatever possible advantage' and 2) such 'armaments' are typically and easily drawn from 'at hand' ojects and are essentially represented by whatever you can hold or grip.  So the point here is to demonstrate that such everyday tools can be used in out of the box ways.

Again, I think it's a very good outline.  Appreciate the discussion of use-of-force law.

JWT's picture

Hi Mike

Thanks for the comments.

I often don't get to deliver any physical training.  Given the choice of a talk for 60 minutes or a physical class of the same length I'll opt for talking and showing stuff as I can make far more of an impression and cover more important material.  

I do cover the different offensive weapons that can be used, But due to time constraints I don't normally look at the use of everyday objects for defence.  That's largely due to the audience.  What I cover is determined by the age range and sex of the group and the types of attack/threat and location.  It's a subject that I cover with females more than males.  

John Titchen