There are some marketing folks out there that would have you believe in The Myth of Self Defense. Buy these videos, learn this top secret technique, talk to this master Gung Foo practitioner, and you will be magically endowed with super human fighting powers, able to defeat a violent attacker with ease.

I Googled self defense and came up with 24.7 million hits. Everything from pepper spray to tasers to super advanced groin kicking techniques. Here are some of the better offers I have seen:

I can teach you, in a matter of a few hours, exactly what you need to know in order to defend yourself against a violent attacker, regardless of your age or physical abilities...
Really? Even if I am 87 years old and have severe spinal arthritis? Amazing!

In just a couple of hours we teach teenage girls that they have rights, that they face dangers which can be minimized, and we teach some simple street-fighting techniques to get away from any bad situation.
What about a situation where a 250lb guy is sitting on top of them and punching them in the face? You can teach them to defend themselves from that in a couple of hours? Amazing!

How to toss ANY man right on his head... and break his arm on the way down if you choose to do so. (I don't care if you only weigh 90 pounds soaking wet, you'll see, your physical size has nothing to do with it.)
Hey, I think I have seen these super secret ninja tricks on YouTube videos. Does this technique involve using your Chi to throw your opponent? Amazing!

Incredible military tricks that will take you from absolute rookie to a master fighter in just a few short hours.
Wow, how come the military guys I train with don't know these incredible secrets? Amazing!

No matter how much money you have, you can't buy self defense. You can hire instructors and purchase videos but you need to work to develop the ability to defend yourself. It takes many many hours to learn techniques, train muscle memory, and develop the situational awareness required to be successful in a fight. Especially a fight with a bigger stronger opponent.

Even if you have trained for years, and are the baddest of the bad, some situations just require you to shut up, hand over your wallet, and do as you are told. If an attacker has a gun pointed at you from more than an arm length away, I don't know of a single valid technique for defending yourself.

Some BJJ schools provide self defense training, and there are some notable self defense focused videos based of BJJ techniques. But we have to be honest about how much effort it really takes to learn and master techniques, and how and when they will be effective.

The Myth of Self Defense preys upon people's fears (some of which I have as my daughter heads to college next year) and use that fear to sell them self defense snake oil. It's shameful.


- Bill Thomas