The term “expert” gets thrown around a lot. On the internet, on pieces of paper, on certificates, on promo material, on Facebook … everywhere there’s a self-defense “expert”. To me, in this field, there will never be an expert, and, to quote Rory Miller, “if they are an expert in the field, I think they should be taking a look at their life, for all of the bad choices they’ve made, rather than trying to teach other people how to be better.
In self-defense, even the best of us are pretty much just taking statistics, personal experience, and training, and bringing it together into one form or another. This is why there’s so many different styles of self-defense, this is why there’s so many different thought processes on self-defense, and this is why there’s so many instructors, because you need your information to link up with your instructor’s experience and curriculum.
To be an expert in a field, you have to have a lot of case study, a lot of experiences, a lot of different things have had to happen to you in that area. In self defense it doesn’t really happen. I myself was a bouncer. I have a lot of experience in drunk guys trying to punch me and each other.
Does that extrapolate to a drunk college girl and date rape? No it doesn’t.
Does that extrapolate to police pulling somebody over? No it doesn’t.
So where my sliver of experience or my expertise lies in reality-based self-defense is civilian-side male-vs-male social violence. Everything else we teach is based on book review and not personal experience.
I’ve never been a girl. I’ve never ever experienced what a girl experiences, I’ve heard stories and tales, but I am not an expert on female self-defense, that’s just how it is. If your instructor is not a girl, they’re not an expert in that field, they have ideas and information that can guide you on your path, but you have to make sure the reason you’re there is your own personal reason. You have to know why you’re training in any martial art, you have to know the reason you’re there. Everything they teach you, you have to look at it through a filter and say, is this what I want?
The word “expert” will make you judge your own thought process on things. So, if for example, I say I’m an expert on muggings, I would obviously have to be an ex-mugger (I’m not, but if I was, that would be how that would work). If I was an expert on muggings and I say, “Look, I’m the expert so you have to do this” then you stop using your own brain, and no matter how good of a coach we are, we won’t be on the ground with you when you’re there. You need your brain, your problem-solving skills, your thought processes to help you survive a situation. We can’t just armchair quarterback you all day.
Remember, there is no such thing as an expert in this field, just people with good ideas. Take them and make them your own.