Gaining Experience by Proxy – Marc MacYoung

I am often asked that question. Can someone who hasn’t spent years fighting teach you anything about self-defense?

Well aside from the first glaring error that fighting is not self-defense, the answer is “It depends.” It depends on something very specific. Below is my answer to someone who asked this very question.

The answer lies in the information, not necessarily the teacher.

What is important is that the information is accurate, legit, complete, applicable and all kinds of other words that go under the general heading of ‘good.’

If it’s bad, it doesn’t matter how much experience the teacher has or doesn’t. It’s still bad information.

If it is good, it’s less important that the instructor has experienced it first hand.

I had a friend, who was shipped to Afghanistan. One of the problems with IEDs (improvised explosive devices) is — if they don’t kill you — they can flip the vehicle. The armour on the Humvees has gotten a lot better, but flipping and rolling is still an issue. The Army, as part of pre-deployment training, has you get inside the cab of a Humvee that is attached to a giant ‘flipping machine.’ You are then rotated over and have to practice getting out of a ‘rolled vehicle.’ After you get that basic skill down, they start training you in different scenarios (half flips, one of your guys is wounded, this door is jammed, etc., etc.). These different scenarios, acquaint you with realistic possibilities and challenges you will face if it happens to you. In short, they teach you how to think and function under these circumstances.

Do you think the guys teaching that course have been blown up and flipped in a Humvee? Do they have to have been?


What is important is that this situation happens. It is a known problem. Here are the conditions. Here is the most effective training in response to that. If it happens to you, this is what you do. We’ve got proven, stable and reliable data people who do this have a much better chance of survival. In short, what matters is the information, not whether you’ve been blown up before.

To be clear, this information and training is based on data collected from people who have been there. It also has been vetted by those same people. Not just one guy, but a lot of experienced people.

The information is not a “well, I think this is what happens” by someone who has never been there or doesn’t understand the subject. As a friend of mine once put it, “Do you know the actual problem or are you just guessing?”

To be continued next week.


One thought on “Gaining Experience by Proxy – Marc MacYoung”

  1. I think Marc makes a valuable point about the greater importance of the accuracy of the information being taught as opposed to how the information was obtained. The key is having the information vetted by those that do have direct experience in order to verify it’s accuracy.

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