In my experience making a good simulation for self defense shouldn’t be taken for granted.
I’ve met many instructors that, despite their excellent preparations in their field still were struggling when it comes
to provide a good self defense simulation for their students.

In this article I share some information that may help you in this task taken from my teaching background.
Follow this link if you want to know more about me before start reading.

The basic concept of any training is to have a clear idea of ​​what you want to achieve.

In fact, once you understand what the goal is, you can decide the steps necessary to achieve it in the best possible way.

If in the case of a combat sports practitioner the goal is clear, the same cannot be said for self-defense.
In the latter area, the effectiveness of one’s action is not determined by one’s success in a regulated combat, but rather by a combination of factors.

These can be summarized in obtaining the highest possible level of security according to three profiles:
a) physical,
b) ethical / emotional
c) legal.

In fact, no personal defense is given if:
one’s body is put at risk both in terms of contingent effectiveness (technical actions have poor functionality in stressful situations), and in terms of safety in training (trained actions or the context practice have a high injury rate)

legal safety is not taken into account. Our actions must be framed within the parameters of the laws and justifiable in court.

the athlete has not been confronted with the consequences of his actions and has not made an analysis of what he is willing or unwilling to do to face an aggression.

We can therefore say, that the goal of a good self defense consists in:
“Owning a set of essential skills, techniques and tactics capable of guaranteeing the best physical safety framed in actions that respect the legal parameters and personal value both emotional and ethical.”

This definition must be considered while remaining well aware that each of the 3 aspects mentioned will have to adapt to the context. Perfect solutions exist only in movies.

Here testing with Eyal Yanilov

The goal of a good simulation for self defense.

If the goal of a combat sport agonist is to carry out all the steps that allow him to train and simulate with the right balance between realism and safety what he will have to face in a competition, what then is the goal of those who want to learn how to defend themselves?

Based on the 3 parameters mentioned, the goal is to have the skills, techniques, tactics, legal knowledge and personal value and ethical analysis necessary to be able to deal with simulations of aggression that correctly balance realism and safety. 

Simple? Not really.

On the practical side, in fact, we have several problems to face in order to provide a useful simulation. 

These problems, simplifying , concern all those aspects that are very clear in a competition and absolutely uncertain in a real situation.


a) what is the context of the attack?

b) Will there be a physical confrontation or will it only be verbal?

c) what other elements are at stake?

d) do I have to look after only myself or other people too?

e) how should I behave after the fight?

All these elements heavily affect the success of a simulation and must be included so that there is a learning by the student.
Not only that, it is necessary to ensure that the student acts in a condition of uncertainty for which an action of physical force is not the only option and, in case it is, it must be justified (and articulated lately).

The goal of a good simulation for self defense is to train the student to think under stress and find the best course of action to identify and solve the problem.
The most common mistake is to think that simulations are a pantomime to put fighting techniques on the field in an “urban” context. 

A similar mindset is not realistic.
Perhaps is just fine for martial arts movies where action and entertainment need to be offered to the viewer.

How to build a good simulation for self defense (phase by phase).

That said, a good simulation consists of a briefing phase, an action phase and a debriefing phase.

In the briefing phase, the scenario is composed and explained to the defending party and the attacking party separately. In this phase the parameters of place, condition, role, contest and respective motivations are set. 

In the action phase, the simulation is started, making sure that each group is checked and after explaining which actions are allowed and what are the parameters that stop the simulation to avoid injuries.

In the debriefing phase, we analyze what happened, the interpretation of the situation of the two parties and we give our own contribution as instructors.
Seminars contexts or focus groups where you have more time to discuss and exchange information, allow you to go deeper in details analyzing alternative actions. 

A few final recommendations.

Designing and implementing a simulation is a process that requires a certain amount of care and experience. 

If not have you ever done it, avoid improvising and rely on your instructor for adequate training. 

The purpose of this article does not allow the topic to be dealt extensively, also in consideration of the fact that a book can be written on such a topic. 

All aspects of the pre-fight and post-fight, the stress inoculation procedures and stress diffusion techniques were not even mentioned.

A good book to learn more about the simulations, even if in a very specific field, is “Leadership and training for the fight” Skyhorse Publishing – MSG Paul R. Howe