Overall, martial arts schools are good at what they do and produce some pretty good athletes. On face value, the martial arts predominantly are about self defence and very few martial artists will question if what they are learning is ever going to help them out on the street. That question in today's climate seldom arises because there are many other great reasons for taking up the martial arts. But that question still remains and many fear to answer, ‘Can I defend myself?' Especially those who may be dependent on it because of their occupation or the environment they spend most of their time in.
The truth is every martial art can be effective and useful but a street situation could turn out to be disastrous because of an important missing link in training. Very few schools are not aware of the real life drama that takes place before the fight even begins. Students are trained to respond to the Instructor/Referee's signal before commencing their 'fight'; they are warmed up and ready, and know what they are getting into, with rules to protect them. In a real situation there is a lead up to the fight which sparks off high emotional acitivity resulting in the inexperienced freaking out. This causes not being able to think clearly or respond accordingly.
There are plenty of available resources which provide the missing link such as Reality Based Training (RBT) which aims to acclimatise students to the threats and trains them to read the precursors and use the most effective and simple moves in stressful situations. This is a big subject and a lot of training is required if people want to be ready for that ‘fight or flight’ situation. It is really up to the Instructors or individuals to do a bit of research if they want to get somewhere with this, otherwise, be prepared to accept defeat and don't kid themselves or their students.
Happy New Year