Interview excerpt of Joe Robaina, an expert in self-defense instruction, both online and in-person. He was an early leader in online instruction with many Internet innovations. Joe Robaina has this down to an art with ACSD and cane self defense.
Joe does not emphasize the point, but there can be no doubt that online training alone, without at least some intensive in-person, is of limited value. I wont say worthless, as there are some very exceptional people out there. But for most of us, including me, some in-person, hands-on guidance is necessary. I can learn some things fast, but others, including many of the physical moves, very, very slow. Some movements, twists, feet moves, turns of the body, the “dance” as Joe calls it, require his expert eye to pick apart and see all that you are doing wrong. It can be one thing or more likely a series of things. You just need to be shown how with direct hands-on touch corrections. Yes, you sign a consent form.
Some complex movements require repeated attempts, errors and corrections. You just keep going and eventuality you get it. Joe and his staff, his family, are very patient. They are professional and have been doing this for many years. When you do get it right, take the attacker’s weapon away for instance, then it feels great. When that kind of flow happens in a group it is unique. A few times the whole group would move together, at once. We would, for instance, shift the lead leg from the right to the left or visa versa. There was group action in unison without any apparent effort. We just did it. Typically it takes weeks of classroom practice for that kind of synchronicity, not a few hours. I attribute that to the excellent instructi0n and preparation Joe’s students received online. Plus, and I cannot emphasize this enoigh, everyone brave enough to make the trip to Miami in the pandemic was driven and focused to begin with. They were an very impressive group and we had some moments. I respect everyone’s privacy so will not do into details.
I can say that6 there is nothing like having Joe bend your thumb, or wrist, or other joint, to “throw” you to the ground (gently) or take a (fake) knife from you. All part of empty-hand defense. Joe was very gentle with me as a first time student, pain-wise, but next time, and there is no question but that I will return, I don’t expect the same courtesies. I’m pretty flexible and so can move fast enough to avoid intense pain by moving like a puppet wherever Joe’s judo leads you by a joint. Poor Kiko (his ever-suffering assistant) is usually who Joe demos on. Move is what you have to do to avoid the joint twist pain, typically by going to to the ground. You learn to do that to the bad guys. That’s an important part of intensives. You learn to defend against a variety of attacks.
You do that by practicing on Joe or his assistants (probably the later) and by practicing on each other. Not something you can do on your spouse back home, or many of your friends. However, there was one terrific husband and wife couple with us in training that are an exception. They could (and did) practice on each other. But for most of us that option is not available. So intensive in-person training give you an invaluable opportunity to practice on other people. Bob is no substitute.
The courage to attend these in-person trainings is critical. It was challenging on those of us who did this in the midst of the pandemic in February 2021. Wearing a mask during the workouts was hard. Kept fogging up my glasses. Vision is a challenge, especially when (fake) guns are pointed at your head for attempted disarmament. But the rules on masks are important to everyone’s safety. If the pandemic is over, and you can attend without a mask, I encourage you to do so. Even with a mask it is was worth it. Very informative and a real confidence builder. No matter what you study online, occasional in-person study too is invaluable. This is especially true for self-defense.