There is no shortage of Martial Arts styles, self-defense systems & various Combatives Instructors that provide personal as well as book/video Instruction in defense. The novice can be overwhelmed by all of the choices as to what to take or what to buy.That is very understandable as just about every Instructor claims his method is the best and that everybody else is mislead or just flat out wrong. He may give the beginner information & explanations that make sense,but that may be because the beginner is simply uninformed.It's kind of like knowing nothing about cars and having a auto mechanic tell you that you need this or that part replaced. You simply have no idea or knowledge base to draw from to determine whether he is telling you the truth.
So,the first thing you have to determine if the Instructor in question has a reputation for giving solid functional information as well as what his credentials are that make him qualified to teach you how to defend yourself. It is similar to the process of finding a Doctor although there isn't an equivalent degree of accreditation for self-defense Instructors. Just because someone claims to be a Black Belt or part of some "official self-defense organization" doesn't mean a whole lot. There is no standard for a Black Belt and getting one in one school is usually completely different than getting one in another.Some places sell Certificates and even Instructor credentials.But,there are some that I would have faith in.If someone has a legitimate(you've actually called & checked them out) Black Belt ranking from any of the Gracie Schools,then I have no doubt that person is the real deal in terms of teaching BJJ.If someone is an associate Instructor for Mike Janich,Kelly McCann or from Gunsite,Thunder Ranch,Suarez International,then that person is qualified to teach IMO.There are others and I have links to most in my recommended links section.
But, is what they are teaching what you really need? That's where it gets a little more complex and much more subjective.Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has much to offer,but is severely limited in it's applications in a real world defense situation.Firearm Instruction is great for Home Defense,but what if you live in a State that doesn't issue CCW's? Plus,not every situation warrants the use of lethal force and there are many times when you don't have enough time to draw your firearm and must employ empty hand skills to get the time,distance & angle to do so.That's why a well rounded or eclectic approach is required and why I put the X logo at the top of this entry.X standing for the unknown quantity that is always present in any defense situation.You don't know when an attack may happen or who may attack you.You cannot know if there will be more than one attacker or if they will be armed.Even once certain circumstances are known & established,there are still many more that are not.Even if you determine you are facing one unarmed attacker,you don't know his method of attack or techniques He will use or when.You can't be sure he doesn't have a buddy nearby or that once you've gained the upper hand, a passerby may not mistake you for the attacker and launch an assault against you.
Even once you find qualified Instruction, don't limit yourself to that one method.Explore as much as you can and take bit & pieces from whatever you find useful.Many recommend establishing a base in one system first,which in itself may not be a bad idea,but I don't really think it's completely necessary.You do need to understand basic physiology,body mechanics & human anatomy,but I don't feel you need to limit yourself to one Instructor or method to acquire that knowledge.The key is finding commonality or broader concepts within different methods and individual techniques to give yourself a good foundation.People think that studying one specific "style"is necessary to achieve this,but that's false. The creators/founders of a given style took varying elements and put them together into what became their method.There are some usually common themes or principles within that style,but there are also many elements that are totally unrelated.Don't be bound by a set of techniques or principles or tied into any one "system" that will limit you. Explore as much as you can, but only really primarily give priority to(most drills & repetitions)what is useful to you and what Your likely to encounter and what's most proven to work(stats etc.),but do be prepared for anything and play around with unorthodox methods since it is very possible You could come up against something unusual and You don't want to be surprised if possible(but prepared and ready if You are).Explore,learn,borrow or create and develop your own concepts(generalities) & techniques(specifics)although You don't want to reinvent the wheel,so use established knowledge and information and if You come up with something new(probably does exist somewhere already,Your just unaware of it) or unique to You and it works,then so be it and good for You.There is no set rule as to what to include,so that is up to you & you only in creating your own personal method of defense.
Kelly McCann aka Jim Grover has some insightful statements on this topic in his site as well ..... http://www.kellymccanncombatives.com/?itemCategory=34162&siteid=priorld=0