This week we received a call from CBS News. They were going to run a story on a Lyft driver that had assaulted several female passengers. The reason they called us was they wanted me to go over how to defend yourself in a similar situation. I reluctantly agreed to meet with them.
Why? Because 30 second instructional self-defense doesn't work. Learning how to fight works. Taking one self-defense class, and thinking you are going to learn something that will save you is not realistic. It doesn't hurt anything but that is the reality. A person that has spent years learning a Martial Art like Jiu-Jitsu can defend themselves in that situation, even if their attacker outweighs them significantly.
I did not want to lie and say yes knee them in their groin or scratch their eyes. Would that work? Maybe, but probably not.
I think a person has to spend time learning how to actually fight. And Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the best option for a smaller person to defeat a larger person. Physics are real. Athleticism is real. Teaching someone a quick trick to stomp the foot or knee the privates will not be enough for you to walk away unharmed.
You will need to train for years in order to learn how to manipulate someone's body. So you can either escape and run away and call for help or put them to sleep then call for help. I am not saying all self-defense doesn't work I am saying that the legit self-defense takes time to learn. Not a single class.
How do I suggest you learn to defend yourself? I would suggest finding a good Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym. First do your research on the right gym for you.
- Who is the head instructor? Who did he receive his Black Belt from in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? (Unfortunately, not all instructors are created equal. Find the BEST gym not the closest gym).
- How long has the gym been open? (It is a good sign when the gym has been around for years). It also means there are more upper-belts for you to train with. It takes on average around 10 years to get a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The best gyms will have a variety of black and brown belts on the mats as helpful training partners for you.
- How many females are training? (If you are training Jiu-Jitsu for self-defense. Going to a gym that helps and promotes females training is important). Look for female upper-belts. A good gym will have a community that cultivates long term female students.
- Do they have a beginner and advanced program? (Separating the pure beginners from the rest of the class is very helpful. It allows attention to be given to help you learn the basics. It helps also with safety).
- Have fun. Training should be fun. It shouldn't be something you dread to do. Of course, there are days I would prefer to skip class after 21 years of teaching. But in general, I am almost always excited to be on the mat working on improving.
Conclusion: I don't train Jiu-Jitsu for self-defense. I train because it is fun. It is that simple. The extra benefit is I can defend myself. Jocko Willink (former Navy Seal) says the best self-defense is a gun and the second best is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I do not carry one on my person so for now I will have to rely on my Jiu-Jitsu to defend me.
Below is the full interview with CBS News.