Why don’t more people actively train in self-defense oriented activities?
This is something that many people in the training community have been talking a lot about. Karl Rehn of KR Training wrote a fascinating study (check the first part out here: http://blog.krtraining.com/beyond-the-one-percent-part-1/ ) where he looked at how many people who took the time to get a Texas concealed carry permit then followed up with more training. His estimate, based on a ton of sources and data, was that one percent (1%) goes on to do either other training, or shoot in organized competitions. That is simply stunning, especially considering the popular notion that Texans are all carrying guns and go shooting all the time. Other experienced trainers such as Tom Givens of Rangemaster have said similar things based on how much they travel around and conduct coursework.
It is probable that more people train in some form of martial art with the express purpose of self-defense (after all, that is the main role of martial arts traditionally), but even then, the numbers are not huge. It is rare to see any kind of martial art school have more than a couple of hundred students at the maximum.
And we all know of most of our family or friends who join a fitness gym every January 1st, only to quit soon after.
So what is the problem? Why aren’t more people joining in and becoming more capable and more dangerous? While there are probably a number of reasons, I strongly feel one of the biggest is a perceived lack of fun and enjoyment.
Face it. One of the reasons we are apt to do certain things is that there is a component of fun. Having fun creates a positive feedback loop that keeps us coming back for more. If a task is drudgery, even if it is seen as beneficial to us, there is little incentive to jump into it with full vigor and focus. Pretty much anyone who smokes knows it is bad for you, but trying to quit is sheer misery for almost everyone. That is why there is such a high recidivism rate. We need to enjoy on some level the process we are in.
Unfortunately, the training community tends to sell the value of training as “you will get kilt in da streetz if you don’t take xxxx training course!” or “your family will die a horrible death from a criminal predator if you don’t carry your Callahan Fullbore Autolock (nerd reference!)!” I myself have been guilty of this as well. None of us are immune. But we need to move away from Einstein’s definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If we are only reaching 1% of the population, then we are doing it wrong.
In my weekly classes I teach, one of the things that sold most of the new people who signed up was seeing how much fun the other students were having. The prospective person saw a large group working really hard at choking each other out, but also saw how big the smiles were on both parties face. Why would you not want to join in on something so obviously joyful? Once that lesson sunk in enough times with me, I realized that is a good avenue to pursue.
Let us go out and show everyone that when we are on the BJJ mats, in the weight room, on the shooting range, or doing a demanding training course like Craig Douglas’ ECQC or Mike Pannone’s Covert Pistol Carry, that regardless of outcome, we are having a great time! Put up pictures of people laughing and smiling, even if they are dirty and bedraggled and obviously worn out. That is what will help reach the rest of the public and convince them it is a good idea to step into this world. Not one more picture of some tatted up, bearded dude all decked out in Crye and showing off how cool he feels with that weapon in his hand. Or that example of that Guru trainer who thinks he has all the answers and anyone who dares thinks otherwise is a wuss.
Don’t present the image of the warrior at war with the universe, but the average person having a good time while working to become more capable, more dangerous, and just a general all around better person. That is what will make those “outside our world” pay attention. Don’t scare them, or berate them, but show them this lifestyle is just plain rocking fun!