I've come across a problem. Well, it might not be if I can make sure I'm walking the right path.
Experience. Everyone I speak to and everything I read seems to be saying that 'real-world' experience is crucial for a self-protection instructor. Therein lies my problem.
I am an instructor, and though my instruction has been very small-scale so far I'd like to say it's been pretty good, as the training and research I've done has been wonderful. However as far as 'real-world' goes, I have little to offer, as do those I train with. We don't live in a rough area or a city (pretty rural as it goes, kind of in-between Hanley and Leek for anyone who knows Stoke-on-Trent), and aren't the types to go out drinking often (me particularly, I just don't see the attraction - the alcohol that is, not the company) so our collective and individual experiences of violence, etc are fairly thin on the ground. I personally was bullied pretty badly in primary and secondary school, but it only came to dealing with a 'proper' assault something like 5 or so times in the 19 years of my life. One or two of them were pretty bad, but apart from them I feel pretty inexperienced in that aspect.
My friends and I try our best to make up for this in training by going at it full-on pretty often, but still that's consentual fighting as opposed to the shock of a real situation. We do loads of 'Code White' drills (love them!) as well, and I research on the Internet watching videos of assaults, etc so we can at least see what kind of thing goes on, a little. I read around as much as I can, things like Dead or Alive by Geoff Thompson and Meditations on Violence by Sgt. Rory Miller, which is one of the best books I have ever read, but still - it's books and simulations!
I know some people work the doors or other security for a while to 'open their eyes' as it were, but I'm not sure if that's the right thing to do, for me. I always emphasise the avoidance a lot, and through my avoidance training (and de-escalation) I've managed to not have a violent encounter in 5 years. A couple of people have advised me to just wander around at night, which sounds pretty stupid to me - the words 'looking for trouble and finding it' come to mind!
To sum up, firstly what are your thoughts on the importance of 'real-world' experience? Can a lack of it be helped along a little through the aforementioned training and research? Secondly, what should I do about it?
Thanks in advance, Josh