Beware of the Echo Chamber!


About two-and-a-half years ago I wrote an article for the blog entitled “The Dangers of Inbreeding”.  In it, I outlined the “dangers” inherent in training with only one instructor/company.  A few days ago I was surfing the web and came across some folks who clearly did not read that article (Why would they?   They are the exact type of people I described in the article!) or take heed of the words therein.

Every now and then I like to cruise through WarriorTalk, the online forum hosted by Suarez International.  I do so primarily as a personal source for comic relief.  For those who do not know, the primary purpose of that forum is to pimp classes and gear sold by that company.  On that forum, someone posted a legitimate question asking if instructors with that company offer any classes aimed at parents protecting their kids.  Specifically, the original poster asked if a class with a title such as “Parent Protective Skills and Tactics” might be offered one day.  The poster added more details of skills being sought after, such as:

·        What to teach the little ones;

·        What the parents should do/learn to do;

·        How to respond to different scenarios;

·       When to draw;

·      What and how do considerations change when out with kids vs. alone or with other adults.

They ended with this:  “I’d like to know if anyone knows of or has considered an in-depth, specific training course developed for this type of instruction.”

I thought this post was well thought-out and contained a number of good questions.  The replies, to date, have been less than helpful.  The words “no demand”, “not economically feasible”, “this was offered before but nobody took it”, etc., were bandied about.


Outside the Chamber

Of course, if the above post was made in any of the more open forums that are not designed to get ONE company as much money as possible, then a helpful person such as myself would have said, “Funny you should ask, because there are two people who have put together an entire curriculum and two-day class that covers this stuff, and they travel around the country teaching it.”  I am talking, of course, about the “Contextual Handgun:  Armed Parent/Guardian” course taught by John Johnston and Melody Lauer of Citizens Defense Research and Ballistic Radio fame.  They have been travelling around teaching this class for at least three years, and my blog partner John (and possibly me, if I can get out of a family thing) will be taking it in 2019.  I would post a link to their website in the discussion outlined above, but I was banned from posting on WarriorTalk long ago (for pretty much this same reason).  So it is that the original poster will probably table his or her idea about a useful class and carry on in the tradition of that echo chamber.

Cult of Personality

If you follow one instructor/company to the exclusion of all others, you are making a mistake.  You are not part of their “tribe”, “pride”, or whatever other term they throw around.  Instead, you are part of a cult, complete with guru, to whom you look for the answers to all of your questions.  NO ONE has ALL the answers!  If they will not point you to others outside their circle who can fill in the cracks in your training, then they do NOT have your best interests in mind; only the padding of their own wallets matters.

As I outlined in earlier articles, the best instructors out there:

1.  Invite other instructors to take their classes in order to help vet the material;

2.  Advise their students to train with other instructors/companies, because they know they do not have all the answers and also because they are confident in what they teach;

3.  Are students themselves, again because they know they do not have all the answers. 

If your instructors are all born of the same echo chamber, how do they grow?  From where do they get new ideas (either the material they teach or their delivery models)?  How will YOU know that what they are teaching represents current best practices?  I am fortunate in that I have trained with some of the best, most well-respected instructors out there.  But I can also speak from experience in that I also took classes offered by the minions of a guru, and largely wasted my time and money, two of my most precious resources.

Choose your instructors wisely…..

As always, thanks for reading.  If you have any questions or comments, please post below or on our Facebook page, as we always welcome civil discourse.  I can be reached privately at

7 thoughts on “Beware of the Echo Chamber!

  1. Robert,

    The insular “one style/instructor ” answer to all problems is prevalent in some martial arts circles. It is especially so in traditional arts, though the practice is not traditional. People like one stop shopping and I guess learning is no different. Great article and I thought of t.f he same class you mentioned when you put up the poster’s question.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Every now and then I like to cruise through WarriorTalk, the online forum hosted by Suarez International.”

    Oh, no.

    “I do so primarily as a personal source for comic relief.”

    Phew! You scared me for a minute. Don’t go playing with my emotions like that!

    Liked by 1 person

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