There are many systems of Self-Defense, Martial Arts, Combatives and other programs that claim they can teach you to defend yourself in days or even hours.Most of this systems will take you through various offensive & defensive techniques and tactics against common scenarios one might encounter.They will show how to defend against a specific type of punch and a counter-technique.They will show how & where to strike the potential assailant and show a defensive tech and counter for all the various likely street attacks.After the course or a specified time period,they may declare that you "know" the system and can defend yourself and perhaps even teach others.
True,you may "know" HOW to parry a hook punch and "know"an appropriate counter attack as well as it's proper technical execution as well as proper targeting, but can you actually APPLY it? The answer is that most people who train in Martial Arts & other various Defensive systems CANNOT MAKE IT WORK IN A ACTUAL DEFENSIVE SITUATION. In real world defense,the assailant will not announce when he will attack or what method or techniques he will using.He will launch a barrage of strikes,may slam you to the pavement or sucker punch you.You may even defend the initial attack and even counter,but it may not stop Him and He will continue the attack.
If you don't know what's coming at you,then how can you defend against it?There is no simple answer to that question irregardless of what anyone claims. If you don't know what attack is coming,then the first thing you have to do is identify it before you can perform the appropriate response and keep doing so after each consecutive punch/kick/takedown that comes at you.This is a instantaneous split second response that has to reflexive and you can't get this by simply "knowing" a technique.The only way to achieve it is through live unrehearsed, not choreographed training.There is no simply other way.
Can you "time" the technique? You know how to defend it,but is your can you time the execution of it against an actual full force attack?If you've never done Force On Force training,then you simply can't know or be confident in your ability to protect yourself.Boxers and MMA fighters spend a lot of time sparring,because there is only so far you can go with training drills and the same applies to reality based self-defense .You have to incorporate a live training partner to build the proper timing,reflexives & rapid technique selection.Some people will naturally have better natural skills and instincts than others,but everyone can improve.
I'm not recommending full contact training although with the proper gear it can be done relatively safely, but rather just a "sparring partner" that you can work with on unrehearsed exchanges & live spontaneous drills.They don't have to be full contact or full power.Build speed & duration in increments eventually flowing multiple attacks & defenses together as well as simultaneously all the while reinforcing the basic technical execution with staged drills and other technical training.Also,be sure not to just "spar"since defensive encounters can erupt suddenly & you won't necessarily be "squared off" with the assailant.So, have the training partner attack while you are not in a ready or fighting stance/position so that you must defend the first technique from a purely defensive standpoint.This will build reaction and reflexive responses like nothing else. Beginners should NOT start with this type of training(at least not a lot) as it will be more detrimental & create more bad habits than anything else.No,the beginner should first get very familiar will the basic execution of the techniques and work incrementally into more & more advanced.This should not take years though as many traditional Martial Arts believe in doing,but after just few classes,the student should be introduced the response training so that is programmed into their responses & mindset from the beginning.