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How Can You Tell if You’re Learning Authentic Self-Defense?

How Can You Tell if You’re Learning Authentic Self-Defense?

Self-defense courses are a popular venture for many people these days.  Not only are more and more people starting to take these classes, self-defense and martial arts are expanding at a rapid pace.  This is a good thing.  Given these strange times and the increase in violent crimes it makes sense that people would be inclined to take some classes to learn to defend themselves. 

The only issue with the increase in popularity of self-defense classes is the fact that some people may pose as a self-defense or martial arts expert in order to make a profit.  These types of people will attempt to take advantage of uneducated people who want to learn martial arts by lying about their credentials.  This is not the only type of imposter you need to be aware of; some people try to teach unpractical martial arts and methods of self-defense that can actually do more harm than good. 

You might ask yourself how can learning any martial art do more harm than good?  Well, the fact is, some methods of self-defense are not realistic, practical or effective, this can ultimately lead to a false sense of security and can make someone get hurt.  Why?  They may think they have adequate skills to defend themselves in a self-defense altercation and get hurt.  Let’s talk about how to spot martial arts that do not work, or false instructors, and then let’s discuss some factors of a real self-defense academy and how to know whether what your learning is practical and authentic.

Spotting a McDojo or Fake Self-Defense

When you are completely untrained and you have never done any martial arts like many of us are and you decide to walk into a self-defense course, you are learning a completely new skill.  That being said, you don’t have the ability to spot whether or not an academy is good for you or not, there are some simple things you can look for that will indicate whether or not what you are about to sign up for is useful.

  1. When someone says that they can defeat someone with their “chi” or “energy” and proceeds to tell you that they don’t even need to touch them. This is specifically dangerous because they may try to teach someone how to disarm someone with their mind or their “chi.” This can very blatantly put, get you killed.  There is no force or energy that can knock someone over.
  2. If they tell you that one strike can end someone or that if you touch a pressure point a person will faint. This is absurd.  There is no pressure point in the body that can just be touched and make a person faint.  A person faints from a choke hold that restricts their blood flow to their brain by applying pressure to the corroded arteries.  You can also constrict their airways by applying pressure to the trachea. Other than that the only way to make someone faint is to knock them out.  This type of false technique can get you killed, this is because someone may have the confidence to confront a mugger or attacker and try this and get seriously injured or killed.
  3. If the instructor has no proven experience, does not spar or participate, or has no footage of them competing, this is an indicator that they are not qualified to teach.  Let’s take a karate instructor for example, they may claim to be a legendary black belt and world champion but unless they have medals, footage, or participate in the classes and actively spar, they are probably lying.  There should be some paper trail of who someone is in the martial arts community.  Many times a simple google search can help you identify a fraud.  This goes for any martial art, Tae Kwon Doe, Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Boxing, anything.  Always do your research.  Martial arts should be treated like a school subject, would you want an unqualified professor to run your course?  Remember that you are the student and that you are paying for these classes.
  4. Other indicators can be business oriented, for example if they try and have you sign up for several months at once with a onetime payment, if they have non-negotiable contracts, if they have binding contracts, all of these can be signals that this academy is scared you are going to leave. Now, keep in mind, some authentic schools do have contracts, but do your research, most fake mcdojos always have them.  This is because their main priority is to take your money not teach you.
  5. If they are able to throw their demonstrating partner with a simple push, flick, or movement of the wrist. In order to successfully take an opponent to the ground there has to be a lot going on, some of the best martial arts for taking people down are Judo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Sambo, and Wrestling.  There are others like Aikido which can be beneficial but have a higher rate of techniques that may not be so effective.  Always ask the person to demonstrate on you if you can.
  6. Last but not least if they make you feel uncomfortable or like you NEED their martial arts classes and instill fear. Martial arts is not about fear, it is about empowering people,  it is not about attacking it is about avoiding damage and staying safe.


We have a video below showing a lot of what to look for if you join a self-defense class or martial arts academy. If you see any of this, stay away.  This is a compilation of things that you can look out for and you will notice a lot of things on our list!

How to know if your Gym or Academy is Authentic

Knowing if your school or the gym you are going to sign up at is authentic is much easier to tell.  You basically want to look at this list above and see if any of those things are present.  If you sign up at a martial arts gym whether it is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, MMA, Tae Kwon Doe, Karate, or Muay Thai you always want to do your research on the interweb.  We luckily live in a world where you can google almost anything and find plenty of reviews, you can use Facebook, and you can use yelp, all of these outlets will allow you to see if the place you are going to train at is authentic.  Not only if it is authentic but if it provided you with a good atmosphere.

 If you sign up at a martial arts academy you want to be able to be comfortable, you want to be around people you like, and you want to have a good atmosphere.  This is so important.  Martial arts is about more than just learning to defend yourself, yes that is the primary purpose of many of them but the martial arts can offer you so much more! Martial arts can provide you with a social experience, stress relief, a healthy lifestyle, friends, family, and so much more!

If you want to learn authentic self-defense from the comfort of your own home with either your friends, or family, here at Fanatics Self Defense we have an abundance of authentic self-defense DVD’s.  We do all of our research prior to filming anything with anyone, think of it this way, we did the research for you!  So if you want to pick up some good items, just look around.  We can start you off with a recommendation.  One of our bestselling DVD’s is Shoot First Ask Questions Later Krav Maga by Rodrigo Artilheiro. 

Who is Rodrigo?  He is one of the most accomplished living martial artists today.  He is a world class Judo black belt, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, Krav Maga instructor, Wrestler, and MMA coach.  He is a Brazilian national champion in Wrestling and Judo, he has taught the Brazilian and United states army Krav Maga, and he has coached some of the best UFC fighters in the world.  The list goes on because Rodrigo has also competed at the highest level of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu! This DVD is well worth getting!