Next week marks a big new step in martial arts training for me. Valkyrie will be teaching our first ever self defense classes, as a four-class series.

I’ve resisted teaching self-defense for years. It’s what I taught when I started teaching martial arts, but the more I learned, the more I leaned away from teaching it. I had some good reasons. The primary reason was that I never felt I could devote the teaching time necessary to teach usable skills. I’ve always felt an urgency about teaching self-defense. What if the student needed to use the newly learned skills on their way home from class? Could I teach them enough to survive in one class?

The self-defense market was my secondary reason for not teaching. The market is made up of buyers and sellers, and between the two of them self-defense has become defined as a product…a thing you can buy and walk away with. Maybe put on the shelf to look at once in a while. Gimmicks abound, and most of the instruction is abysmal. I didn’t want to be associated with that.

As Valkyrie grew, our number one request from people was self-defense. I always said no. Flat out no, no questions asked, don’t bring it up again.

And now I’ve changed my mind. A few things contributed to that. Mostly it was She-Hulk and Squeak. They kept coming up with the right questions about my assumptions, and got me thinking about what I could do if I had the time and resources. The other thing was Sparky giving me some reading material that lead to a few other learning moments. The topper was getting the chance to see Sparky in his teaching environment, and learning some valuable pedagogical lessons…lessons that were repeated at the recent Vancouver International Swordplay Symposium.

I’m still putting the final touches on the classes, and will right up until the start of each class. Here’s what we’ve got so far:

The first class will focus on legal aspects of self-defense in Canada. We’ll talk about Use-of-Force and review the actual law, not just what we’ve picked up from TV. Then we are going to learn about pattern recognition and awareness. We will learn how to watch people, how to predict behaviour from body language and environment. There will be homework on this, and at least one field trip.

The second class will be about decision making. We will build up from use-of-force, and learn when it is appropriate to act, and how you should act. Should you strike back or leave the area? When do you call the police and when should you use verbal intervention? When do you call for help and make a scene, and what do you do after you have done that? We’ll talk about how to report crimes or suspicions, how to verbally de-escalate conflict, and when you need to be pro-active about making contact.

Our third class we will talk about target selection and recovery. This will be all about how to effectively follow up on the decision to use lethal force to save your life, or someone else’s life. We’ll be talking about recovery after action, and how to cope with what comes after. And yes, we will cover less that lethal responses. Probably in the prior classes as filler so we don’t sit too long when I’m talking. Or in follow up classes. Still working that out.

The final class will be some limited scenario work. We will create some situations, and students can opt to participate or just observe as they play out. They will be very realistic. We will prepare students before each scenario for what might happen, and we will review afterwards what actually happened.

If you are interested, you can sign up here.