The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) states that, on average, it takes someone 600 hours to become fluent in a new language. So, if you are practicing 4 hours/week, it would take approximately 150 weeks or about 3 years to become fluent in a new language.
The body develops habits through consistent repetition. Understanding Self-Defense is no different. The body needs time, consistency, and repetition to turn techniques into muscle memory.
I’ll explain this with a personal story… So, our school is unique in the fact that we do what are called, stress tests. Meaning, we make sure we are teaching effectively and the techniques are able to be repeated by students at random in a stressful situation. At the time of this test, I had been training consistently for about 6 months (at least 3 hours/week). I walked into class and my Sensei told me to go in the bathroom and come out when I was called. Inner me: “Oh, crap…” I knew what was coming. When I came back out, there were two rows of four students each, and every student was armed with a plastic knife. My job was to walk in between everyone and not get stabbed (easy, right?). What I didn’t know was that every student was assigned a number, and they would be called at random to attack me.
I managed to successfully defend myself from 3 students… but then came the fourth. A very large male student stabbed straight towards my center and I hit his arms down, but then I froze. I was so overwhelmed by the chaos of it all and his size that all my training went out the window. Needless to say, I was stabbed probably 16 times that night. Even with 6 months of training, I still froze.
If our main goal is to learn Self-Defense, we need to be ready to commit to consistent training. Dropping in to a class here or there may save us money, but it will not save our lives. A powerful quote to think about is this, “A dream does not become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.” (Colin Powell, former U.S. Defense Secretary)