Inquiring parent: “Could you please help me? I am very concerned for my daughter’s safety and wish for her to have self-defence training.”
“Sure, we have a community service self-defence program specifically for women currently running in Queen’s Park on Wednesdays and Fridays at lunch time. The cost is $X per class because it is a community service. Your daughter is welcome to attend.”
Inquiring parent: “Oh. That time is not convenient for us. Is it possible for you to provide private lessons for her?”

“Private tuition costs $XXX per session. We recommend a minimum of a month of bi-weekly lessons as a basic introduction to self-defence before more advanced physical intervention techniques are introduced. We also encourage your daughter to attend all other available classes in addition to this private tuition in order to maximise their self-defence response development. We can make the remainder of the class attendance free if they are paying for and attending private classes.”

Inquiring parent: “Oh. So the cost is not the same for private lessons as for your community service? That might be a bit much. My daughter also has other commitments and a month is too much time. Can you shorten the course and make it less expensive?”

Sighs “No.”

I know that it sounds crazy, but this type of conversation has happened frequently in our history as a martial arts school in Australia. We are often approached by people who make a statement that seems to indicate that self-defence or martial arts training is of great personal value to them and then they contradict their first statement in the very next response.

Well? What is it? Are they serious about training or aren’t they? How much are they prepared to invest in their protection?

I have a young son whom I love dearly. If I was investing in his safety and security to ensure his survival, there would be no price I would not be prepared to pay. Financial or otherwise. Oh well, I suppose different strokes for different folks.

It costs approximately $4.50 for a cup of coffee in Toowoomba. A regular McFlurry with M&Ms costs $2.39. How many cups of coffee are you prepared to sacrifice per week in order to be able to protect yourself? How many McFlurrys?

For many people in the Toowoomba area, it would appear that the answer to this question is “None at all, mate!” Further to that, if your perception of the relative importance of self-defence or combat training even momentarily causes you to question its relevance over personal comfort then this path is probably not for you.

This may seem a bit harsh, but reality is always harsh.

Everyone who has felt the call to dedicate their lives to the pursuit of martial arts, combat training or self-defence has had to make big sacrifices in order to follow their path. The specifics of these sacrifices change from person to person but often include finances, time and personal comfort. While not everyone would be prepared to make the kind of sacrifices that this dedicated path requires, some sacrifices have to be made even for the casual martial art student or self-defence student.

Do not be surprised if the training takes considerable time and effort.

Do not be surprised if you are taken to places that are uncomfortable and do not be surprised if you are required to sacrifice things that are of value to you.

Many people struggle most with sacrificing their precious opinions about themselves and life in general. As I stated before, reality is always harsh and there is no more visceral way to face harsh reality than preparing to physically intervene in order to save your own life.

This in itself is a challenge for some people because it requires the person to acknowledge that people are not all intrinsically ‘good’ since they are training to survive a situation in which another human being is trying to hurt or kill them.

If you’re not prepared to make sacrifices, whether financial, time or comfort, you will never be able to effectively learn how to defend yourself.

Think about it logically. Do you think that a self-defence situation is comfortable in any way?

It isn’t.

Ergo the preparation for this event will not be comfortable either.

My final point is that investing in self-defence training is a little like buying a car. You get what you pay for. Self-defence training is like a car that will typically sit in a garage, unused for the most part except for tame test runs around the block. You may only have to drive this car at break-neck speed on a racetrack once in your life.

And when you do have to drive it, you’d better hope that it isn’t a lemon or you may never get home again.

Written by: SiXiong Lester Walters, Head of Chinese Martial Arts and Health Centre Australia