I'm pissed again. This is why I don't attend martial arts classes any more, why my answer to "what martial arts have you done?" is "oh, this and that."
Because most martial arts talk is posturing and pretense and ego, not much to do with effective self-defense. Which I do care about.
I'm not going off on a rant how most martial arts practices have little or nothing to do with self-defense, or how most MA teachers haven't a clue how little they know about what they think they're teaching. Heck, I'm barely going to touch on how much worse than useless most "women's self-defense" training is. All that would take a book. This one is a good start.
But I will say this: if someone you care about really needs self-defense, give them a few critical basics:
1. No matter how much experience they say they have, your teacher can be oh-so wrong. They don't know what you know about your body, your mind, or your self defense situation. And gosh, if they aren't listening to you, they know even less.
2. Anyone who won't talk to you about why they teach specific moves, who can't answer "but why not just walk away?", does not know what they are doing.
3. Belts don't matter. Martial arts lineages don't matter. The name of the school doesn't matter. All those weapons on the wall? The big, lovely Japanese kanji? Irrelevant. Absolutely irrelevant.
4. You don't need lots of fancy moves. More techniques isn't the answer. You need one move -- just one -- that works. Okay, maybe two. Listen: if it's hard to do when you're calm, on flat ground, in a well-lit room, how hard will it be to do in the rain, on slippery pavement in the dark? Those moves should be simple.
If you want a good teacher, find someone who doesn't need to convince you that they're a good teacher. Find someone who teaches out of their garage. Find someone who, when you learn a bunch of moves, won't give you a belt.
And to the guy who tried to teach me women's self-defense tonight, who is probably nearly as annoyed as I am by the experience, who thinks pain and damage are the same thing, who told me that if I raise my arm over my head I'll be taller than my attacker:
I hope you find out how how little you know before you teach this stuff to any other woman who might actually need to use it. But I bet you won't.
We don't really live in a very violent place or time. Most of the women who learn these "self-defense" practices will never need them. I console myself with that.
And yet, somehow, I'm still pissed.