Short-term self defense courses are like a sprint. Most people attending these weekend courses and short workshops expect to learn some eye-opening secret to address their personal safety issue. Sadly, that is not the case. Having been learning, training and teaching martial arts (both sport and combative) since 1978, my conclusion is that you learn the physical movement patterns, recognise the need for physical conditioning and athleticism, a healthy mindset and employ some form of technique to protect yourself from harm. In recognising this process the learning time stretches out to make this more of a marathon rather than a sprint if this was a foot race. You see more detail, have more time to learn and absorb, and finally have more opportunity to learn how to apply strategies and tactics.
One of the most important strategies I’ve recognised in the past few years of boxing or jiu jitsu is not trying to impose your technique if you are smaller, weaker, lighter than your opponent, but it is to cause your opponent to make more mistakes and forced errors that you can capitalise on.
So it’s what you know, how deeply you understand the limitations of the techniques then working it within the environment/context you find yourself in to create the action that allows you to defend yourself successfully. It’s a marathon. Not a sprint.