This article was originally written for those looking for self defence classes in Bristol. However, the lessons learned are valuable and can be applied to self defence classes taught anywhere.
I am a lifelong martial Artist, a multi black belt instructor, a National Coach for the British Krav Maga Instructor Development Programme and a professional trainer for over 20 years.
I started out as a Psychiatric Nurse specialising in the management of challenging and aggressive behaviours in a range of custodial environments. I moved on to Control and Restraint training, Riot training, and later still, I began teaching as a Home Office approved trainer.
Some 15 years later I was responsible for auditing the use of Force in a range of settings for a Government commission, often writing or amending training programs in light of a serious incident. So it’s probably fair to say that I was considered an expert in my field.
I went on to train external agencies and the general public how to manage conflict or physically intervene in violent situations, often teaching those going into situations where violence was inevitable rather than probable. This experience and training gave me a different perspective on training than my fellow martial artists who had not been exposed to violence as part of their occupation.
Martial Arts training vs Occupational training
The training I received in my occupational occupational setting was markedly different than anything I experienced as a martial artist. The trainers were more experienced, the training more realistic, (often set in cells, corridors and escort type environments) and the role-play scenarios that were both stressful and intimidating. Although this training was continually watered down from the early 1990’s (Health and Safety), the training at that time was excellent – tough – realistic and professionally done.
As a martial artist, self defence training was rarely pressure tested, involved fanciful techniques, and was taught by a Blackbelt with no real-world experience. This training was both ill-informed, impractical and at times downright ridiculous.
Little has changed.
So I wrote this article to share the benefit of decades frontline experience dealing with real violence and teaching others to do so.
My hope is that when you have read through this article you will have a clearer understanding of what to look for if you are trying to find good self defence classes in Bristol or where ever you live.
Paul Grey. National Coach. British Krav Maga.