Friday, July 29, 2005

If It's Too Good to Be True...

I was recently asked to review a self-defense instructional DVD series. The person that requested the review had already purchased them and wanted to know what I thought of the techniques being shown. Reviewing a set of DVDs after their purchase is a little unusual, since most people rely on reviews before they plunk down their hard cash.

The DVD covers were very plain and didn’t offer a lot of information about who had produced them so before I could schedule some time to review the actual DVDs, I went to the Web site shown on the box and began reading. The story of how this instructional series came about was fascinating. The instructor on the DVDs was afforded an incredible opportunity to work with some of the most advanced special forces soldiers on the planet. This group, combined with other sources provided by the government, eventually hammered out a program that kept only the most effective and most deadly techniques while eliminating all of the techniques that were found to be ineffective. The result was a system that could take any person – regardless of size, athletic ability or experience -- and turn them into a formidable fighter.

I was hooked. This is exactly what I had been looking for my whole career. And there were a large number of endorsements from real people from some of the most respected law enforcement agencies and military units in the country.

Since this program was developed on government time with government money and was highly sensitive, it was considered a secret. So the only way this instructor could offer it to the public was to hide his identity…

Okay, you can probably guess…

The series is a complete joke. Parts of it are actually funny. I’m pretty sure they were not meant to be amusing, but I had to chuckle. I should have known that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There are a lot of techniques on the DVDs, many which are traditionally taught and are usable, but they are standard fare. And they are not especially well executed by the mystery instructor. Definitely no secrets here.

Afterwards I picked just one of the endorsements given on the Web site and called a contact in that same agency. Officers in that department don’t seem to know the name on that endorsement. Are you surprised?

Here is my list of marketing phrases which should be red flags when looking for self-defense instruction or information:

“You don’t have to fear any man”;
“Rapidly hard-wire techniques directly into your brain”
“Automatic response”;
“Secret techniques”;
“Allows even the smallest person to instantly dominate any fight”;
“Quickly and effortlessly”;
“Guaranteed complete control over your opponent”;
“The one mistake every streetfighter makes”;
“So deadly that it cannot be taught to the general public”.

Don’t get fooled by the marketing hype. Self-defense and personal protection are areas that professionals strive to perfect over decades of intense study. If you’re not a professional, there are strategies and techniques which you can learn and there are self-defense products you can buy which can afford you a base level of protection in a fairly short amount of time.

But it won’t be effortless. Expect to devote time and sweat developing the skill and the will to defend yourself and your loved ones.

Now go out and train.


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