by Ph.D. TK Logan

I have heard this statement numerous times, and wrestled with it myself. Can you really teach someone something about defending and protecting themselves in just a one-shot, few hour session with no other follow-up training? If not, was the time and money spent on that class a waste of resources?

You see, I want to reach people who have never considered a self-defense class, not people who already live in a world where they think and plan for their safety regularly just like they decide what clothes to wear every morning. That means I have to straddle two worlds. In one world I work with people who rarely think about their safety or how to respond in the face of a threat as well as with women who have been sexually assaulted, stalked, and abused and yet, they don?t want to be responsible for harming another person or don?t consider themselves capable of fighting back. In the other world, I see self-defense or martial arts instructors who have relatively simple answers for aggression-be more aggressive, plan, and train, train, train. Two different worlds, two different ways of thinking about safety. I should make clear that I think of self-defense as bigger than just combat.

One thing I really want self-defense instructors to know is that when someone from my world thinks about going to the other world, even for a few hours it can be intimidating and scary. This month I saw a seminar on knife defense from a group I haven?t interacted with before. I debated for two weeks about signing up. I really wanted to do it but I have so much anxiety about going to a new place, interacting with big guys with potentially big egos who really won?t want to partner-up with me (how would I challenge them?), whether or not I am worth the trouble for this instructor, whether or not the seminar will be worth my time, and whether or not I am going to get hurt. I am no shrinking violet, but the anxiety is overwhelming. Self-defense instructors need to understand that even getting there, to that one class, for people from my world is a huge step.
So when I get there and I am told that one class will not make a difference unless I keep training, I feel hopeless. I have limited resources and limited ability to commit to ongoing classes even once a week. Then I begin to wonder exactly how much is enough training before I should feel confident in protecting myself in their mind? Then I just get overwhelmed and feel like not even trying to go to another class-what?s it going to matter?
I?ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to integrate these two worlds because I want to help people be safer, especially those who have already been harmed or are being harmed in a 24/7 reign of terror (for example those being stalked). I have been stubborn in my pursuit of bringing some self-defense training to those who, in my opinion, need it the most. But I feel like my progress has been as slow as molasses.
I know that small things can have profound impacts on people?s life. Haven?t we all heard a story, had a conversation, read something, or had a near miss that has had a profound impact on our life? For example