Mixed Martial Artists Wouldn’t Last a Second – Randy King

The reality-based self-defense world and all of the people teaching self-defense and commando kill style, all keep saying, keep harping on the fact that mixed martial arts fighters wouldn’t last a second in a street fight. You see it on all the forums, all the Facebook pages, everyone’s always ranting, “oh my ninja style would destroy you”, “my Krav Maga would destroy you in this situation”. This is so ridiculous to me, I can’t stand it. The point of the rants is for me to vent on stupid shit mostly that I see on the internet and this is definitely one of them.

Mixed martial artists are athletes. They are professional athletes that fight with the best in the world all the time. Are all of their skills transferable? No. Are some of the skills transferable?  Yes!  If I am in better shape, can hit harder, last longer, kick harder and take more damage than you, am I going to win the fight?  Yes!

People who train twice a week who think that they can go out there, after whatever their instructor tells them and thinks they can take on the biggest meanest neck tattoo-iest mixed martial artists, are insane!  These people are conditioned athletes who put a lot of time into this, this is their career for most of them. They cut weight, they train hard, they train for, some of them will train, in one day, longer than a lot of reality-based self-defense people will train in a week to two weeks. And they train longer than a lot of police forces require their cops to train for a whole year. They get that in a week. They prep for fights, they’re always in constant camps, they’re always constantly watching what they do, improving their technique and their fighting, the best people around them.

In a fight, reality-based self-defense people had better be using the plan A for reality based self-defense which is get the hell out of there. If he’s bigger and stronger than you, as I’ve mentioned in multiple rants, he’s going to have a distinct advantage. Now take a high level of training, you’re in trouble. Even if they are training in the worst MMA gym in the world. There’s a whole bunch of good ones, but even if they are training in a crappy one, with a fake instructor with fake credentials, who has glamour-ed them and talked to them about how awesome they are, if you’re putting in three hours a day sometimes in any system, you are going to be good. You’re going to be able to take a hit, you’re going to be able to move, you’re going to be able to take the fight to the place you want it. They’re able to transition faster than most people, they can stand up, they can take down, they can put the fight where they want, which gives you a huge advantage in the street.

Yes, probably if there’s a weapon involved they’re going to get hurt. Are they going to lose because of their training? No!  If I knock you unconscious because I have a wicked right hand then there’s no way that person’s knife’s going to be able to stab me as they’re unconscious.

Stop using this sport combat thing like it’s not real. It is real, there are rules, yes, to protect the fighters, so they can fight again, and gain more experience. I’m not saying run out and join an MMA club, I’m not saying stop teaching what you’re teaching, I’m saying stop saying stupid stuff to your students to make them feel invincible against people that literally get punched in the face all of the time.

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Stop Using Fear to Profit – Randy King

It has been an intense couple of  weeks since the largest mass shooting in modern U.S. history happened  in Las Vegas. Just one day earlier, here in my hometown of Edmonton, we had a “terrorist” attack.

Sadly, attacks like these are becoming more and more common.

A lot of people have weighed in on these recent events. I am not going to do that – I want to talk about something different. I want to talk about the after-effects.

It has been shown time and time again that when tragedy strikes, the scum seems to rise to the top. Whether that is people pushing political agendas, using tragedy to boost their own profile, or, in our industry, using this tragic time to make money.

Seconds after the mass shooting in Vegas, my Facebook feed was flooded with mentions of active shooter courses. A few minutes after the Edmonton attack, people here were promoting self-defense lessons.

Tragedy should never – I repeat – never be “good for business”. Anyone who is trying to make money off this situation does not deserve your money. Anyone that needs to use fear to fill their gym is shit at what they do.

No system on the planet has an answer for how to deal with a man with multiple high-powered weapons shooting from an elevated cover position … this would take out even the most well-trained and elite soldiers in the world. An ambush of this nature is survivable only if you are not among the first hit, and then by gaining as much distance as possible from the situation. Or, by not being there at all … which is of course just luck, and impossible to predict.

Anyone who is trying to sell you the snake oil that “their” training would have helped you is a liar, and is trying to profit from your fear.

This type of marketing has always made me sick, for two reasons.

Reason one – it is dangerous. You are selling a bullshit answer to a legitimate problem. A solution that, if people buy into your slick marketing campaign (which they do all the time), may actually get them killed.

Reason two – trading on fear makes the world seem worse, not better. If you bring people in who don’t want to be victims, and you try to retain them by constantly reminding them how scary the world is, they will stay victims. Or worse – they will become even weaker, and more likely to be victimized … all while you keep your clients scared in order to pay the bills.

I have personally been speaking out about this for a while … I have ranted about it on my YouTube page (KPCMartialArts). Being as vocal as I am, I have heard all the excuses! As you read this, bear in mind that I already know all your self-justifying tactics; the reasons why it is ok for you to do it (but no one else). So, let me squash those as well.

“Yeah, but … what I teach is important! It doesn’t matter how they get in the door!”

Wrong: It does matter. Our job in this field is to build up, not exploit. The ends do not justify the means here. If your stuff is really that good, don’t start advertising minutes after a tragedy – let your brand stand on its own and see what happens. If people call you, and you give them honest answers, and they come and train … then your stuff is good, and you didn’t have to be a slimeball to get new clients.

“I know it’s wrong, but it’s the best way to collect students.”

Wrong(ish): I will admit that capitalizing on fear is a great way to boost those numbers … but only temporarily. You then have two options to retain these fear-based leads: A. Make them confident and not afraid (which is your job) … but then you have solved their problem … and so they leave. Option B is to keep them scared so you keep them long-term, and if you are willing to do that … then please go back and reread this article from the beginning.

“What I have actually solves the problem though Randy!” / “My system is based in …“ / blah blah blah.

Wrong: You’re not special, and neither is your system. You are problem-solving the same way we all are. If you did your job, you’ve read the reports … and there was no way to stop that attack once it started. Same as the attack that happened here in Edmonton. I don’t care what mystical pseudo-religious figure founded your system – I guarantee that they don’t have a defense against getting hit by bullets or a large truck.

“Randy, you are wrong! The world is the worst it has ever been, and without Combat Krav Jitsu-do, we will all just be lambs for the slaughter!”

Wrong: Please consider figuring your own shit out before you counsel others. (Also, please remove me from your friends list.)

I’ve said it before, and I feel like I will keep saying it for as long as I have a platform to speak from. Stop. Using. Fear. To. Profit. We have enough problems in this world, so please don’t be one more.

Fed Up With the Way Women are Treated? – Randy King

So, on the Randy King North American Tour 2015 summer edition, we had a couple of women’s self-defense seminars that we taught. We teach two versions of our women’s self-defense seminar, number one is a three hour course pretty much making you aware of danger, what to look for, how to avoid it, and then there’s our two day course which has some physical techniques. One of my courses was done on a reserve. The questions that were asked of me at that seminar blew my mind. It made me realize that I don’t understand the plight of women in situations like that. So many answers I thought would work wouldn’t work, so many questions were so specific, about the specific attacker that they had, like “when my attacker does this”, not “what if my attacker is this big”. It made me re-think self-defense for women.

Number one, education is way more important than technique, there’s no way around that. There is no way a three hour course of kicking a man in a bullet suit in the groin that you’re going to become good at defending yourself against anybody. You might be able to run away from a predator, it’s not going to stop an uncle or a cousin from beating on you, it is not going to stop that guy at work. Women need to have more education on what they can and cannot do, and men need more education on treating women not like animals.

We have a link to this as well on our Facebook page if you follow us on Facebook. We put up an article about a girl who was talking about her version of what men do to women, and how her day was every day. It blew my mind, and it was so foreign to me, the concept of what was happening to this woman, that I almost didn’t believe it. So, I put it out to the ladies of KPC, and I asked them, “ladies, is this true, is this lady crazy, what’s going on?”  From a lot of women that I trust and respect, I got a lot of answers that made me sick to my stomach.

Guys, what the fuck are you doing out there?

This is not every person out there, there’s a lot of nice guys out there that are doing stuff, but man there’s a lot of you wrecking it for all of us. I don’t understand your ability, your thought process, that you think you own somebody, that you can stop somebody. Or you can get mad at somebody for not wanting to have sex with you.

I saw a really funny meme on the Internet and it said, “Why is the friend zone not a thing? Because women are not fucking vending machines that you put tokens into then receive sex.”

Women’s self-defense is a joke in a lot of places because a) the people teaching don’t understand the problem, and  b) what they are teaching is a physical response that works against male-to-male violence, they don’t understand the female social-asocial thing. There’s a movement to say that it’s better to teach boys not to rape – everybody wants a universal reason for why things are happening. People want to blame it on porn or the way men are raised or religion or whatever. Everyone wants the big bad wolf in the woods, that is going to be able get shot once and all our problems will go away. This inequality and un-safety issue with women is across the board, everybody’s fucking this up. Men are fucking it up, government agencies are fucking it up, the women are fucking it up. People are taking unnecessary risks on the order of “this shouldn’t happen to me”.

There has to be a way to fix this. The only person who is in charge of your safety is you. I say this so much we have a meme about it. You cannot wait and think that there’s going to be a knight in shining armor or a person’s going to save you when you are in trouble. When seconds count, police are minutes away.

I know this rant is going longer than normal but this is really pissing me off. Reading this blog, reading the woman’s response, knowing that people I give a shit about and care about are scared out of their minds to go anywhere and it’s an act of bravery to go to the grocery store is not fucking acceptable.

Women, we can’t fix the system right now, it’s on your onus. Get as much education as possible, learn the laws, learn what tools are good, learn the bad people in the neighborhood, do everything you can to keep yourself safe because it looks like nobody else is out there to help you.

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Stop Thinking Your Attacker is Stupid! – Randy King

Another thing that commonly bothers me, all the time, when I’m teaching self-defense seminars, going to train with other instructors, reading articles in Black Belt, or looking at blogs online, is people assuming the person attacking you is unintelligent at best. So, you’ll hear advice like, if a person has a weapon, they’re probably going to concentrate only on that weapon, and they probably won’t transition from that weapon. Or if a person’s kicking you, they’re probably going to kick you, if they’re punching you they’re going to punch, if they’re grappling, they’re going to grapple.

I found in real life, and as I’ve said multiple times, fighting is high speed problem solving, it’s as simple as that. It’s just the ability to solve problems during whatever encounter you’re in. So, I’m being attacked, somebody’s punching me, if I can punch and they can punch, and the person’s punching faster than I punch, I’m probably not going to continue to punch that person and not try and transition into a grappling phase or a weapon phase or something else.

I don’t like the mindset of okay, if a person has a knife in their hand they’re going to only focus on the knife, they’re going to keep trying to drive the knife into you, and if you get control of the weapon they’re not going to try to turn or wrestle or take you down or transition into another weapon set or hurt you in any other way than with that weapon. Too many skill sets, too many people rely too much on stopping the weapon, not stopping the attack. The attacker is the problem.

Every time I’ve seen a real fight, every time I have been in a real street fight, any time the person is losing they will change their tactics. So if a person’s wrestling me and I’m out-wrestling them they’re going to start punching me, or they’ll flee, or they’ll transition into something else. If you assume that because your instructor tells you that this is how violence is and that because they have a weapon they’re definitely going to keep using that weapon against you at all points in time and not focus on anything else, you are living in a crazy world. It is impossible to tell what anybody’s going to do in any situation, under the duress of adrenaline, fear, anger, whatever substance might be in their body outside of the natural ones. You cannot predict what’s going to happen … there’s patterns, there’s different thought processes and skill sets but definitely there’s no always. Using the word “always” in combat is just insane. So many things change so many times: the environment, the person, yourself, you might get hurt or slip, luck is a huge factor in this as well, we mentioned the four different factors in fights.

When you’re doing any weapons training, when you’re doing any training in general, your training has to have a place where the bad guy can correct. We have a rule here which is never correct your attacker – the attacker is never wrong. You can’t say “oh I don’t know that one” and not problem-solve the situation.

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Escape and Evasion – Randy King

Every self defense program I’ve seen so far has an escape protocol to it; it has some part in the curriculum that mentions that escaping is a great idea, how to escape, where to escape, and what to do. I find, though, that most people don’t actually train to escape, and this becomes quite the issue when it comes to conditioning-type training. If you are part of the relatively new school of conditioning-based training, operant conditioning, or response-based training to stimulus, it is very important that you give your students the opportunity to escape, and reward them for escaping when you’re training the drills. A lot of instructors pay lip service to escape drills – they say that you should have an escape plan, you should have an evasion plan, you should make sure you know what’s going on, you should be able to de-escalate – but then no training time is devoted to the skills of escaping, evading, or de-escalation!

What I find in of a lot of self defense programs is that they are still just a fight program. To use the paradigm that Rory Miller set up in his book Facing Violence, there are seven things that must be considered for self-defense. You need to understand the legal and ethical ramifications, you need to understand violence dynamics, you need to understand escape and evasion, you need to understand operant conditioning, you need to understand “the freeze”, you need to understand the fight, and then of course, the aftermath of all these things. On this paradigm, which I find is the best I’ve seen so far for self-defense, escape and evasion is in the first three things you need to learn! Everybody talks about it, but it seems nobody actually does it. So, when training with your students, you need to make drills where escape is the best option, and it is a rewarded option – running away is okay! Redefining a win becomes very important.

I want you to understand that most of the time, when people come to a martial arts/self-defense class, they expect to learn the fighting part of the situation. But if they’re only learning the fight part, it’s just martial arts, we’re just passing a system down. We’re just showing them that there are ways to deal with violence, but when people get into violent situations, there’s always a lead up, and then a follow up portion. Understanding the lead up to self defense situations is far more important than the self defense techniques themselves. Saying this, you might do every single thing right, you can pay attention, you can follow all the rules, you can know who the bad guys are in your neighbourhood, you can plan escape routes, you can know where the fire escapes are, you can understand where to run and how to run, you can have a great sprint time, and you can still get attacked. I’m not saying that this is going to make you invincible. Understand that there are times when the fight has to happen, but that’s not always the case, and in fact it’s rarely the case.

Getting your students familiar with the mechanisms ahead of time, making sure they understand how people attack, making sure they understand violence patterns, making sure they understand how to run, and where to run, is hyper important. It can be really hard to add this aspect into your curriculum, especially if you like the kicking and the punching and the choking and the throwing. It can be very hard to add some kind of escape drill, because maybe you feel like it’s not fun for your students, maybe you think just paying lip service to it is okay. I’m here to tell you that it’s not okay. It’s your job to build drills that use escape, or that give your students the opportunity to escape.

Something we talk about all the time is that 60-80% of human communication is body language. That includes task-based stuff, so if you say every day “Oh, and don’t forget to escape” but you never let your students physically escape, and you never wire their brains for escape, they won’t believe that escaping is a proper option. When the brown matter hits the fan, they’re going to have trouble going to an escape pattern, as opposed to an attack pattern. Attack patterns are important, but I think escape patterns are even more important, especially in the real world. Yeah, it’s great to be Rambo and beat the bad guy up, but almost every fight comes with hard-won knowledge. Every single fight you’re in, you might hurt yourself, you might break a bone, you might twist an ankle. All these things can happen, and they will affect your life outside of that fight. Most people focus on the thirty seconds to a minute of most violent encounters, where the outside surrounding part of it is much more important. So – how do you teach people to escape and evade? By building escape drills into your curriculum.

There’s only really four things you can do in a fight. You can escape, you can control them, you can disable them, or you can lose. Obviously losing is not on the table – you don’t want to train your students to lose, there’s no point in putting reps into losing. You can choose to lose, you can choose to submit, you can do that, that is fine. You can choose to curl up in a ball and get kicked, you can choose to let people do what they’re going to do to you, and that also can be a viable strategy. You may have been training them in disabling an attacker, you’ve been training them in kicking and punching, you’ve been training them how to restrain people, but you’re taking one-third or one-fourth of their options off the table if you’re not teaching them to escape.

You need to teach your students where to escape and how to escape, and how to map a pattern in time and space to get away from the attacker. You could build a drill where it’s “all right everybody, you’re going to do your counter ambush drill, you’re going to do your favourite setup and instead of going to your follow-up I want you to escape, and I want you to escape to a doorway.” The problem with this is, setting a fixed position for an escape is beneficial for the first one or two reps, but the human brain is lazy, it’s a pattern recognition machine. Its job is to create the most efficient pattern possible. As soon as you create one static place in your gym to run to, after two or three reps the brain is just going to have a pattern to do that and they’re no longer developing the skill set to escape.

You also need to define the parameters of escaping. If we’re escaping from asocial violence, we obviously want to run towards lights and people. More people means more witnesses, and more witnesses usually prevents asocial violence. Lights also mean more people that can see you. If you are trying to stop social violence, you are going to try and escape away from crowds, because if it’s social violence and I run into a crowd of people, and the other person’s trying to fight me and they’re trying to gain status in their group, the more people that watch, the better it’s going to be. So for social violence, you need to get away from the surrounding people, you need to create an environment where they’re not going to gain the social standing they need. Identifying the type of violence is a whole different article – there’s already a number of them in this publication about that. Just understand you need to define the parameters of escape, what escaping is, lights and people, or away from the people who are trying to fight you.

There is a drill I have created that rewards escape, and this is by far the drill that is most stolen from me by every other instructor who meets me, so I definitely want to give this drill to you. I call this drill the “High-Five Drill”. This is a great solution to the problems mentioned above.

For this drill, we start with a person attacking you, and you do whatever movement pattern you’re working on that day, if you’re working a pass or a sweep or a throw or whatever, doesn’t matter. After the student has done the technique, I want them to run, and they’re going to run to an instructor. Why we call this a high-five drill is very simple – the instructor is going to walk around the room holding up their hand in a high-five position, and they’re going to keep constantly changing position and moving around. This forces the student to actually look and find the person, to scan the environment so they find the safe path, and then they have to get to it. The bigger the group you’re in, the better this drill gets. The reason is you get every single person in the room doing the drill at the same time – it’s a “you go, I go” drill. So, my partner attacks me, I do whatever technique I’m working on, I put them on the ground, I do my counter ambush, etc. Then I have to scan the room and find the person who has the high five, and I have to get to that person as fast as possible in the safest way possible.

The rules of the game are simple. I have to find the quickest, safest way to get to the high five person. I have to do the high five from the front, not the side or the back, and this is for the safety of the person doing the high five, and I cannot bump or smash into any other person in the room. In this game, the other people are barriers, rather than people. In real life, you could obviously smash your way through people to escape, but for this drill these people are barriers, corners, alleys. We need to move around these “human pylons” in order to map a safe escape path.

In closing, what I want you to do is make sure your students have an escape pattern, have the parameters and goals of where to escape, and then have a training regimen that rewards the fact that they can escape, and then you’re teaching a true self defense program.


The Statistics Trap – Randy King

If I can give you any advice as an instructor, it’s to not get stuck in the statistics trap.  As a person who’s just living their life, in this age of disinformation, where we have way too many people telling us way too many things, it’s very easy to fact-check something over and over and over again, even if the source is incorrect.  What I mean by the “statistics trap” is very simple.  A lot of instructors will read fancy statistics, memorize those statistics, and use those statistics constantly, regurgitating them, trotting them out like a proud parent, but without understanding where the stats come from, what the research is, or any other factor that makes that statistic true.  Very simply put, statistics can be used for anything across the board.

The first statistic I used when I started teaching was related to stabbings.  We are a very knife-oriented gym; we teach a lot of blade work. The city I come from, Edmonton Alberta, is lovingly referred to as “Stabmonton” Alberta, due to the fact that gun violence is low, but knife and machete violence is very high.  We used the general stat that everybody used, which is that 80% of knife attacks come underhand, and that’s how the attack lines work.  

When we built our first curriculum, we designed it off that statistic, since I don’t go around knifing people. I’ve been stabbed, I have friends that have been stabbed, but the studies showed that most attacks were coming underhand to the lower body, side, kidney region.  I ran with that stat for two years. Every day of those two years, people would come to me with anecdotal evidence, saying other things, like, hey when I was stabbed, this happened, or, I’m a paramedic, and this is happening, etc etc.  And I held steadfast and true to the statistic that I had read, in a book from a country that I’m not from.  When I delved deeper, I realized that the survey that the statistics were based on had included prison stabbings.  If you know anything about prisons, the weapons that are used are generally point-oriented weapons.  So, of course, the study was skewed towards  stabbing at that low angle, because so many prison stabbings come at that angle.  

Why bring this up? I had fallen into the statistics trap.  It was ridiculous of me to tell people who worked as EMTs, to tell people who had been stabbed, to tell people who were doormen, that stabbings happened a certain way, when all their experience didn’t line up with the statistic.  It was ridiculous of me to disregard my own story. My favourite joke is that I’ve been stabbed two and a half times – I’ve been stabbed once in the leg, once in the face, and once by a fork (that’s the half).  Every single time I was stabbed, it was an overhand stab, it looked like a monkey dance with a knife, an overhand swing coming at me.  This was also the evidence I was getting consistently from EMTs, people I trusted and respected, but because I had this fancy statistic and I was an “expert”, all of them turned their brains off and stopped arguing with me because of the fact that I could quote a statistic.  

Understand the information that you’re using, understand where it comes from. You can use it as an example, but nowadays most statistics on the internet are written as clickbait.  These sites want to give you a stat like, “1 in every 7 males with blue eyes is attacked by foxes”. That’s a crazy stat!  Obviously, you have to understand how surveys work, and how sample sizes work.  There was a great article by the Huffington Post on the statistic that 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted while in places of higher education.  That article then breaks it down very well …  if you read the article, you see it’s not 1 in 4; that number is exceptionally high.  That  number is the 1 in 4 people who took the survey, and it just means that a large number of the people who took the survey were been people that had already been sexually assaulted.  Now, I am not saying that sexual assault is not a horrible thing.  What I’m saying is that the number that everybody’s throwing around, the 1 in 4, was used by the New York Times as clickbait, without the full study being released.  

One of my favourite bits from the great comedian Bill Burr is on stats, and how he hates stats. He does this whole bit on how you can go to iamright.com and use a stat to prove that you are right or wrong, as long as it lines up with your vision of things. That’s the problem with most of this stuff; the statistics you’re using just happen to line up with your view of the world, and so you take that stat at face value without going further into the information. Then you’re disseminating information to people that is not intelligent, it’s not making people more powerful, it’s just making people more crazy about number crunching, just blurting out things to make it sound like they are more intelligent, again just becoming really proud parents.  

The stat Bill Burr uses is about shark attacks.  His bit is, “did you know, most shark attacks happen in shallow water?”  And he pauses, and everybody’s thinking, “yup, yup, yup, that makes sense” and then he states it very clearly, “why do you think that happens?”  

Because that’s where the PEOPLE are, people are in SHALLOW water, so of course shark attacks are going to happen in shallow water”.  

This problem of the statistics trap is becoming more and more prevalent in the marketing of self-defense programs.  I’m not saying don’t use statistics, and I’m not saying change your marketing plan. I’m saying that every one of those statistics should have a little star beside it, and the star should say, “as of the study here, where they use a sample size of this”.  Because there is no study in the world that takes 100% of the population, who then all send their surveys in, and who then don’t lie, so then that stat is completely true.  You have to take all these stats with a grain of salt.  

Rory Miller sums this up succinctly as well, just to hammer this point across one more time. His favourite saying is, “Correlation is not causation”.  The stat he drops is very simple.  “Did you know, that the more churches in a city, the more violent crime that happens in that city?”  The wheels start turning in everyone’s heads, “oh yeah, that makes sense, uh, obviously more churches means there’s more religious tensions …” and then Rory breaks it down just as simply as Bill Burr does.  He says, “No. The fact that there are more churches in the city means there are more PEOPLE in the city, and more people in that city means there’s more violent crime in that city”.  More in this case not being a per capita rate, but simply more total cases.  The language used and the statistics used are very important.  

So. Do me a favor.  Do your due diligence on statistics!  Find the stat you like, if it fits how your brain works, if you think that this stat is true, read the actual study.  Don’t take the clip, don’t do the thing that happened on IFLS (the science publication), where they put up a headline that said “Cannabis Proven Not From Earth!”  People shared and shared and shared and shared, and loved it, and said “yeah, cannabis isn’t from Earth, that makes sense!” If you had clicked the link instead of just reading the clickbait title, instead of just reading the 1 in 4 – the article actually wasn’t about that at all.  The article was about people only reading headlines.  

As an instructor, it’s your duty not to fall into the statistics trap.   


Stop Using Fear Based Marketing – Randy King and Erik Kondo

Erik: Randy, you wrote a great blog piece on why reality based martial arts instructors should stop using fear marketing to attract students. I think it makes great points and I have included it below:

Randy’s Post:

Reality-based martial artists, stop it. Stop using fear-based marketing, you’re a bunch of asses. I cannot stand people using fear as a motivator to make people buy things from them. Why – why do you feel the need to frighten people all the time about violence when, statistically speaking, they’re probably never gonna see it? Why are you putting up reports from your local newspapers all over your advertising listing all the bad things that have happened, out of context?

So many things in there happen to people whose jobs put them in the line of danger, or those who exist in a world where violence is very common. It’s not “local housewife walks down to store and gets attacked” – which happens rarely, stranger danger being the least common thing yet the most commonly marketed method to get people into self defense gyms. It’s always “man stabbed three times by girlfriend” – yeah, that happened, but what was the context of it?  Taking something from one tiny little statistic and then using that to blitz a marketing campaign on social media, or on flyers, or in schools is low, and it makes all of us look bad.

If you’re not a good enough instructor to bring students in and retain them on your merits, if you have to scare the hell out of them to make them stay out of fear that when they leave your gym they will be attacked by random ninjas and vigilantes and rapists all the time … stop teaching!  Just stop – you’re not doing anybody any favors. If you need to keep people in by making sure they leave terrified, or you bring them in by making them terrified – it’s ridiculous.

There’s a difference between fear-based marketing and awareness campaigns for what is happening. We, for example put up things that are happening in Edmonton, where we’re based, but we put up the context of it, we put up the whole news story – not a sound bite. Stop jumping into sound bite Fox news lifestyle where it’s all about propagating fear and making everybody suspicious of everybody else.

(Stop hitting the panic button! Students who you bring in with fear campaigns will not stay!)

Yes – violence does happen. Usually it happens from people that you know, usually with that violence – to quote Marc MacYoung – it has instructions on how to stop it. “Shut the fuck up and leave” – you shut the fuck up and leave, you’re good. Usually, bad things happen to people in bad situations – they go to places they shouldn’t go, they don’t know the rules, they’re in the wrong spot. Rory Miller has a whole bunch of things listed in his book, Facing violence about this. But to use bad things to profit your own business to me is probably one of the dirtiest, most shameful things you can possibly do.

Erik: Some Reality Based Martial Arts instructors are just one category of what I call the Merchants of Fear. The Merchants profit when people are afraid. Sometimes the Merchants are motivated only by profit. Other times, they may be promoting a worthwhile social cause (stopping violence against women for example). But the end result is still the creation of a culture of fear.

One primary audience for the Merchants of Fear are middle class women who are either in college or young working professionals. This audience typically has the disposable income to buy products. They are coveted by media advertisers. They have the time and passion to support their cause of choice.

The Merchants benefit when it’s audience:

  • Buys their personal safety products.
  • Attends their self-defense training programs.
  • Watch and read their crime centric sensational news stories.
  • Demand their greater police visibility and presence.
  • Support their Anti-Rape and Anti-Violence Organizations.

Some of the Merchants send out varying messages that evolve around the same general theme. All women are likely victims. All women are constantly being assaulted in one form or another. All women need this type of weapon, special training, or society to protect them. Scary statistics such as 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted are prominently quoted.

Suggestions that women have the natural resources/ability to defend themselves from assault in certain situations are sometimes denigrated as “victim blaming”. Some of the Merchants of Fear depend upon their target audience’s sense of victimization to further their respective businesses and causes.

The Merchants gain from its audience’s reduced Peace of Mind. Certain social causes pit the needs of the Individual against the needs of the Cause. The greater the victimization that appears to be occurring, the greater the support for the Cause. Society loses by increased feelings of helpless and fear, but the Cause wins more support.

Political candidates are increasing using the tactics of the Merchants of Fear to attract supporters.

Erik: Randy is there anything else you would like to add?

Randy: I have always found that there are two types of clients. Proactive and curative. The second group are training because something bad had happened to them. If you use fear based marketing, you not only rub their experience in their face for “not training sooner” (which is a giant pile of bullshit and you should know that!) you also run a huge risk of re-traumatizing them through your program.

The first group which thankfully is far larger, if you recruit them through fear, the only way to keep them is through the same method. You have to keep them scared, to pay your bills. If creating victims to scared to leave their home so that you get rich is how you roll…I hope that we never meet.