1. Focus on quality of time, not quantity
Remember your time is one of the most precious gifts you have, so every hour you spend training must be spot on for what you need. Look for instructors that want to make sure you learn something new every time you train. Remember, you decide if you are getting the quality of training that you need.
2. Focus on training that works for you
All of us are different heights, weights, ages, and ability levels which means not every move will work for every person. If it doesn’t work for you then you’re wasting your time. It doesn't do you any good to watch someone do amazing kicks and punches if you personally can’t use it to defend yourself and your family. It is also very important to think about how your training will work if you are hurt or have a broken bone. How will your training work if you have your young child with you? What if there are multiple attackers? What if you are in a dark parking lot? These scenarios and everything else you can imagine are questions that you should explore and ask about if you are uncertain.
3. Focus on primal non-complicated movements
Self-preservation should not be complicated; in fact it is better to keep things simple. Studies show that simple movements work because when you are under stress you lose your ability to remember complex movements and will revert back to basics. So if the studies are right then why not train using the simple movements that you will remember and be able to use effectively?
4. Focus on instructors that keep it real!
Having the ability to train like you fight is critical to your self defense. Look for an instructor that will use reality-based, stress inducing situations in their teachings to help you understand the both the mental and physical reactions that occur under stress. For example, when we learned to drive a car many of us started driving in a parking lot or a back road and then transitioned to busy roads. We all got nervous at first and then slowly got comfortable even driving on a highway during rush hour. This same principle can be used in self defense training as well. Training one on one usually will not create the same stress reaction as when you train two on one, or even three on one. In fact, most of the time you find out what really works when you train against multiple attackers.
So if you’ve ever thought you didn’t have time to learn to protect yourself remember to focus on high-quality instruction that adapts to your surroundings, your opponent and yourself. There are self defense systems out there that focus on non-sport, reality based, street self protection. They explore the most efficient methods available of solving someone’s problems. For those that say they don't have the time to train should look for these types of systems and try them out.