Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Are we guilty of scaremongering?

Ok, so all you instructors out there, have you ever asked yourself “Am I guilty of scaremongering?” To a degree I think we all are, look at the majority of adverts for martial arts clubs and they will advertise the fact that they will teach you how to defend yourself. I think we can pretty much agree that the majority of the people start training in the martial arts to learn how to defend themselves, but how do we attract the student to our class? I have seen a number of adverts over the years, an example being: an attacker wearing a ski mask brandishing a knife and various similar scenarios. Are these just scaremongering tactics that prey on the fears of the general public?

Looking at scaremongering from  a different point of view, I am sitting here writing this the day after the horrific shooting of PC Ian Dibell; now because of this shooting we may well see an increase of people claiming to teach firearms defence but in the UK is this sort of training really necessary? If you train for reality then surely this is something you need to consider, but really, how prevalent is gun crime in your neighbourhood?

The Metropolitan Police class gun crime as, “Crime (Violence against the Person, Robbery, Burglary and Sexual Offences) in which guns are used. A gun is taken to be involved in an offence if it is fired, used as a blunt instrument to cause injury to a person, or used as a threat. Where the victim is convinced of the presence of a firearm, even if it is concealed, and there is evidence too of the suspect's intention to create this impression, then the incident counts. Both real, and fake firearms, and air weapons are counted within this category.”

A quick search of the Met Police website ( reports that in the 12 months to May 2012 there were 2277 reported gun crimes, approximately six a day over the course of a year, down on the reported 2591 from the previous 12 months and this in a city with a population of circa 7,825,200 (reported figures from 2010). If you want further information on gun crime figures you can check out this website,

Looking at these figures we could ask ourselves if teaching firearm defences to the general public are necessary then. Look around at many of the modern “reality based” system and you will see them highlighting the fact that they teach defences against various types of firearms - pistols, shotguns, machine guns etc. but, is it necessary? That is the question. Some may argue that we should offer our students the option and opportunity of training in this area, maybe arguing better to have the skill and not need it instead of possibly needing it and not having it. In a country or society that has a greater exposure to firearms, say the USA; is it a valid area of training? Possibly, who am I to say?  We also need to consider what our students do as a job - armed forces, law enforcement, close protection, all areas that may need some exposure to firearms training.  There is good reason for offering this type of training to people serving in these areas but what about Joe Bloggs who works in the supermarket?

In closing, please do not interpret what I have said here as a pop at systems that teach firearms defences etc. I have merely used it as an example to highlight the original question of, ”Are we guilty of scaremongering?” Personally, I do not teach firearms defences, I have no knowledge or exposure to this area and so avoid teaching it. However, as with anything, if someone is skilled in this area and has a good level of knowledge and understanding then I do not see why they cannot teach it. 

As with most of the blogs and articles I write, I do try and get the reader to at least go away and think about their approach to the martial arts and get them to reflect and question the what, why and how of what they are doing. Sometimes this means being the devil’s advocate, but in the long run I understand that this can be beneficial as long as I open my mind to all points of view.

Thanks again for taking the time to read my blog here on
As usual I welcome any comments, feedback or questions and you can contact me via my website

Until next time, stay safe, train hard and have fun.

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