You can’t learn self defense until your mouth stops.
If we were training to be crisis negotiators, we’d need to talk to each other. A lot. All the time, in fact, to keep that line of communication open so it doesn’t collapse, go dead, and sink into the opposite of communication: destruction. If you can keep the guy talking, you’re postponing the killing.
But that’s not what we’re training for when we learn self defense. We’re training for that unthinkable moment when communication and empathy break down and there’s no getting it back. We’re training for what to do when the guy hangs up and starts shooting.
There are only three options in that moment: escape, be lucky, or act to secure your own survival.
Escape is great if you can get it — and a no-brainer, really — but it’s not always an option. If he’s locked the doors (Virginia Tech) or you’re on an airplane (9/11), then there is, literally, no escape. You might get lucky, he might miss or pass you by or mistake you for a corpse. Any of those would be just the thing. But again, you can’t count on being lucky.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, being a law-abiding citizen and a kind human being doesn’t build up an intangible reservoir of luck you can count on when things go horribly wrong. That leaves us with knowing how to hurt people when we learn self defense.
Hurting people has nothing to do with talking to them. No more than you would talk to the paper target at the shooting range. Again, firearms strike clarity in the otherwise muddy world of “self defense” and “fighting.” While you might have words before the guns come out, while you might try to convince him to change his behavior before you pull the trigger, once you start shooting, nobody’s doing any talking at all. The time for communication has passed and we have arrived at the absolute last option.
To this end, if you’re going to train effectively, you have to shut the hell up.
Laughing, joking, talking or otherwise communicating while you learn self defense means you’re not putting the information in the right place. If you’re training socially, then you’re training for the social and antisocial realm — you’re training to fight instead of hunt.
To put this stuff where it needs to go, you need to replicate, to the best of your abilities, that asocial environment. The only sounds should be breathing and bodies hitting the mats. Just like at the shooting range, this is purely target practice on the human machine, only using your body as a big, slow, bullet.
Train to “use your words” in a social context. There are lots of places that offer classes in conflict resolution — and it’s a great skill to have. Just don’t confuse it with hurting people.