Hell, yeah!!!! Now, this might spark a little controversy, but you can learn something in 30 seconds that can save your life! So, can you learn self-defence in 4 hours? That is a loaded question that I can argue in more than one way. If you asked me, can you learn EVERYTHING you need to know in 4 hours? Hell, NO!!! I mentioned in my previous blog titled, “Why I Quit Teaching Self Defence,” I like to focus heavily on Violence Prevention. Avoiding Violence, I consider the most critical aspect of self-defence as it begins with the self. A considerable amount can be learned in 4 hours.
So, what can you learn in 4 hours? This question is heavily dependent on the needs of the person I am teaching. If I am teaching a group of people looking for some general instruction on the topic of Violence Prevention, those 4 hours will look a lot different than someone I may be teaching with an immediate threat in their life. There are undoubtedly many topics that will crossover from one to the other, but there are some definite differences which I will point out.
Take, for example, a group of people who are interested in a general outline of Violence Prevention or self-defence if you are insistent on using that title. It will undoubtedly include making sure people understand the differences between self-defence vs fighting vs martial arts since the vast majority think they are the same, which they are not. This topic is perfectly addressed by friend and fellow instructor Richard Dimitri by clicking +Martial Arts, Combatives or Self Defense? Why is it important? Because if one believes they are all the same and treat them all the same, it could end up in disastrous results. We may then aim to get a feeling for how the group feels about the topic of Violence and whether it is good, bad, or something else. Now, this blog is not going to go in-depth on any of these topics but rather give you a sense of what can be accomplished in 4 hours, again dependent on who we are teaching.
One area, regardless of the group we teach will be addressed is in the field of Intuition; what it is, how it feels, looks, and how to use it in your daily lives. This topic alone has saved millions of lives throughout history and does not take weeks or years to learn.
Now, if I am teaching a general program, we might analyze the daily routines people in the group might face, such as the use of public transportation, car safety, home safety, being followed, purse safety, etc. Still, if I have a client with an immediate threat, those 4 hours will not be optimized if they do not have a car, for example, so no point in putting any focus there. If the client facing an immediate threat is commonly assaulted in their home and still living there, we may spend a considerable amount of time on those specifics.
In addition to Intuition being a mainstay in all our teachings, another critical topic is the one of Mindset. Still, even within that topic, there will be many distinct differences between the “general” client to one who has been facing Violence over a considerable amount of time. Someone who has not met Violence may require different strategies to reach them on the importance of developing a productive Mindset in the face of Violence. The person who has been victimized for years may have many more obstacles to overcome to reach that productive Mindset. In the area of Mindset, 4 hours most likely not be enough, but can begin the process. I have seen it accomplished but may take years for some for many reasons we will not go into in this blog post.
Now, some question how you measure if what you have taught in those 4 hours have been useful. Great question because if someone takes the advice on a topic and nothing happens, they still might wonder if the “incident” did not occur because of the information I followed or was not going to happen to begin with. Let’s use a simple example, a woman is about to get on an elevator, the doors open, she sees a man standing there seemingly innocent, but her Intuition immediately tells her not to get on. So, she walks away or makes up some simple excuse for why she did not get on. Did the information she learned in those 4 hours prove effective or not? See, people usually expect to hear of some physical retaliation to make it a “successful” self-defence or Violence Prevention story. In my opinion, it is the complete opposite, the fewer stories we hear, the more effective the training has been.
So, if the above example was taught during a 4-hour seminar, did they not learn Violence Prevention in 4 hours? And that is just one straightforward example of many ones we have heard over 25 years of teaching the SAFE International programs.
Next, you have those who believe you need to spend years perfecting your techniques to be effective at physically defending yourself. Again, I say BS, but also say, yes, years of training would be great, but 99% of the clients we teach will ONLY ever dedicate a few hours to learning how to recognize, avoid, or handle the potential for Violence. When I began this journey 25 years ago, I thought everyone would love me and want to train week to week over years and years. LOLOL…I quickly realized that just because I put such high importance on personal safety does not mean most do. I promptly changed the philosophy of SAFE International to be, “what would I teach someone if I knew they would only ever dedicate 4 or 5 hours to their safety”? That might have had the most significant impact on what we still teach 25 years later. If someone dedicates more time than 5 hours, fantastic! But it is not expected.
I strayed from the topic of “techniques” and what can you learn in just a few hours. Plenty of fundamental principles and concepts can be learned in a relatively short amount of time.
Sometimes a bit less education on the topic can prove valuable. More so than trying to cram in too much knowledge with too many “techniques” to be remembered. Remembering too many “moves” is much more challenging to access in those times of stress, adrenaline, and chaos that Violence presents without care to your level of training. We teach primary gross motor tools that can be utilized by anyone regardless of age, gender, physical limitations, or lack of training.
There have been far more people with little to no training who have defended themselves than those with years of practice. I never want to hear of people we have taught having to use what we have taught them. Still, we have received several stories where young women as young as 14 years of age have defended themselves against much more significant, stronger, experienced users of Violence. Often the attacker is known to them, which is another considerable dimension often ignored in Violence Prevention education.
And how did they do it with only 4 hours of self-defence training? Because they heard the education, internalized it, and applied it knowing it was their best chance of getting home to those they love.
They did not think in the middle of a Violent scenario, but I have not trained for years, I am too small, or any other excuse. They applied the Mindset backed with how the human body generally wants to behave in high stress, along with some basic strategies. Are there any guarantees? Of course not, and anyone who says there are is lying.
So, can you learn Violence Prevention or self-defence in 4 hours? YES, you can!
Managing Director, SAFE International