“The technique worked!” So what?



I’m always amused when professional self-defense and tactical trainers defend themselves when they teach poor and outdated material by going to the “well, it worked for this guy and that guy, etc”.

You know what also worked for lots of people? Point shooting from the hip. It worked for Jelly Bryce and countless others prior to the 70’s. And yet these same trainers won’t teach hip shooting because we now know there is a better way. Nor do they teach things like “.45acp is a much better stopper than 9mm” or “revolvers are more reliable than semi autos”. All those things were taught at one time because it was the best we knew at the time. Now, we are better informed. So those things have gone the way of the Dodo bird.

Another thing that worked for a lot of people? Not wearing a seat belt. I don’t think I ever saw my grandmother wear a seat belt, ever. Yet she never was hurt in a car crash. So why shouldn’t we dump all seat belts? Again, because we know better know.

It’s called learning. And it’s based on constantly pushing the envelope of skill and performance. Why don’t football teams run formations and plays from the 50’s? It worked for the Browns and Colts and Lions team et al. But not one team anywhere, not even a high school team, would use the Lions 1953 playbook.

Using the mantra of “it worked” means little. Maybe it worked because the person doing it was a superior physical athlete. Maybe he got lucky.  Maybe the bad guy screwed up, or that he was not really that much of a threat. There are a ton of reasons something may work that has absolutely zero to do with whether it’s a good technique. Is it reliable and replicable over time and over multiple situations and can be performed by most people? That is the only thing that counts. Not once or twice, for elite performers, but over and over for the majority of people, especially the “everday joe”.

Take a look at the following video. It is actual CCTV footage of a store robbery by a guy armed with a knife. A customer stops the robbery by KICKING THE KNIFE OUT OF THE GUY’S HAND! You will see it for yourself. It happens, in real time, for the whole world to see. So, by definition, kicking a knife as a disarm “works”. Anyone want to rely on it for themselves? Anybody think a reputable trainer should teach it? Bueller? Bueller?



Here is the big problem with falling back on the “well, it worked” as a justification for something being taught. Let’s say over the past twenty years, we can track how many times that a particular technique, for example the speed rock, has worked for real. For the sake of argument, let’s put the number at 20 that we can document (this is a totally arbitrary number used as illustration to further our understanding of the issue – don’t quote the number). Sounds awesome right? Decent record of success. Sounds like something we should put into the training regime, doesn’t it? Except, what if I said, based on the same documentation, that it FAILED 80 times, and the performer was severely injured or killed. Does that success rate sound so great now? Of course not! Regardless of how many times something worked, if that number only represents a 20% success rater, who cares? I am not staking my life, or the lives of my loved ones, on something so flimsy. So when the trainer tries to justify his teaching of the technique with how many times it worked, he should also tell you how often it did not. If he can’t, then should you really listen? It is the equivalent of having a Pharmaceutical company try to sell you on a new drug and them tell you it will cure whatever disease you have, but then they neglect to tell you that there is a better than 50% chance that it will cause your eyeballs to bleed, and your heart to explode. Anyone want to sign up to take that medicine? I sincerely hope we are smart enough to understand that what we are looking for is something that works far more often than it fails.

Now, if all we can accomplish is 50/50 or worse, and we don’t have anything better as a technique/tactic/training protocol, then fine, we have to accept that. Like chemo for cancer – it’s not a great answer, and may cause more harm than it fixes, but it often is the only cancer treatment at all. But for a technique like the Speed Rock, we have incredibly better solutions, so why should we accept crap?

If this sounds like I am picking on the Speed Rock, well………… I am! It sucks. Period. There are a number of better solutions that are easily learned and trained, and those same answers work in a big variety of situations/scenarios, where the Speed Rock, at best, only works in one small and narrow niche.

If you want to get into the many issues with the speed rock, check out this article:


The author does a superb job of detailing why it is a sub-optimal method for dealing with the close range, entangled fighting problem.  Read it, and then if you see a trainer whose only rebuttal is “it worked for me” or “i have a friend who it worked for”, but cannot address any of the salient points in the above article, I would suggest maybe there is an inherent problem with the logic train.