Last week I had a conversation with one of my friends regarding an email she had forwarded to her from a friend. The article was from a "self-defense expert" who taught a self-defense program at a high school "for decades". Before I continue, I would like to note that I am purposely withholding this "expert's" name as I don't want to give any more attention to this person, though a quick Google search reveals this person's involvement with the school appeared to be limited to being employed as a High School Gym teacher. Could he teach self-defense as well? Absolutely, but I do find it to be another red flag in the whole story. During the conversation I had two main issues with the article at hand.
My first issue with the article was notion of using wasp spray as an alternative to pepper spray for home and work defense. The article stated this information was verified by a local police officer (no name give, cue eye roll here) and the advantages over pepper spray the author stated could be summed up as 1) Wasp Spray has ranges up to 20 feet which is greater than pepper spray, 2) Wasp spray is non-lethal and temporarily blinds the attacker "until they go to the hospital for an antidote," and 3) people don't assume it's a self-defense weapon so it doesn't attack attention.
I'll give the last point a little bit of credence. It is almost universally not used as a weapon, except against said wasps, but then again practically anything can be a weapon. That is the entire concept behind improvised weapons.
But I digress. The concept of using wasp spray as an alternative to pepper spray is a bad idea for multiple reasons. First, mace/pepper spray comes in multiple forms (streams, cones, foggers, mists, etc) and some types can be discharged up to the 20-25 feet (comparable to wasp spray). Second, wasp spray contains insecticide; Pyrethin (yes I had to look the name up) in wasp spray's case. Insecticides are a form of toxins, which is why it attacks the nervous system of the insects and KILLS them. While it can cause temporary blindness in humans, it also carries the risk of permanent blindness and/or death - this is why every can of insect killer contains a statement that states it is a violation of Federal law to use insect killer in manners other and it is specifically manufactured for (which is why highly I doubt a police officer confirmed this advice). I am not even going to go launch into the tangent of increased liability you're going to face if you do use this against an intruder, they survive, and then sue you - because we've never seen those kind of stories in the news. Third, in the United states, many states (check local jurisdictions) specifically prohibit the use of sprays in self-defense manners other than pepper spray for reasons I just stated (permanent damage and/or death). This is why is it illegal to use Bear Mace (mace specifically designed to stop a bear - typically around 5x as potent if I recall correctly) on humans as adverse reactions to the higher concentration can lead to reactions of the throat leading to choking and suffocation.
My second issue with the article is the notion of this so-called "self-defense expert" and the idea of this advice being verified by an unnamed police officer. Without a name to verify who said what, any potential legal advice has to immediately be discouraged. If this was truly credible, sound, and legal advice, and this alleged conversation actually took place, the officer in question should have his or her name presented in order to verify the source.
While I hold umbrage toward the credibility of the unnamed police offer, I take a greater offense to the notion of so-called "self-defense experts." Sadly, the Martial Arts world is populated with outright frauds, self-promoted instructors, and ego-manics who only care about rank. As I stated in the opening of this entry I did a Google search on this "self-defense expert." Through the first three pages of results I found a three or four sites verifying that he is/was an employee of said school district, a number of other websites continuing to propagate and spread this misinformation, a few links pointing that this email has been circulating since 2009, but the vast majority were other sites, YouTube videos, etc debunking this advice - much similar to what I'm doing there.
You know what I didn't find? I did not find one single link in the first three pages of Google's results about this guy's training or credentials to teach self-defense. Not. A. Single. One. I cannot tell if he has any formal training at all.
And that, in my opinion, is the biggest problem with this article and the countless ones like it. The Martial Arts world has relatively low - sometimes non-existent - standards for verifying who is saying what. There is absolutely nothing preventing your average Joe on the street from opening up their own Martial Arts school and proclaiming themselves as a 10th Dan in Hoke-Doke-Soke Karate and a "self-defense expert." Throw enough money at certain organization in the martial arts world and they'll "legitimize" your art or let you buy your way into a Martial Arts Hall of Fame.
We as Martial Artists, regardless of the rank or style, should openly research and question the credentials of those who teach or provide information that does not sound quite right- especially if they proclaim to be an "expert." Anyone who truly has nothing to hide is not going to object to you asking about their training, provided you do so in a respectful manner.
But since there are apparently no actually requirements to be a "self-defense expert," I am now proclaiming myself as a self-defense expert.
Sensei Brad Earich, "Self-Defense Expert"
Sensei Brad & Sensei Dan
Thoughts and reflections from either Sensei Brad or Sensei Dan. Hopefully updated semi-regularly. From time to time we've been known to be right.