Better example. How many times have you driven a car? How many times do you zone out and then find yourself slamming on the breaks and swerving because some idiot in front of you stopped short? It's in that split second of action we find out how good of a driver you really are, no matter long you've been driving. You either slam into the car in front of you, or you swerve around them avoiding a potentially deadly crash.
Self defense is the exact same thing. We tend to zone out during "training" and often find ourselves slamming into the car in front of us when actually confronted with an attack. To start with, the majority of martial arts schools instill a false sense of hope and security in their students. It's not their fault, they just don't know any better. In fact, this is hardly a problem limited to martial arts schools.
Let me stop and say that I fully support our Law Enforcement, and think they've gotten a lot of bad press for absolutely no reason at all. I'll also be the first one to jump in and help an officer under attack. That being said, if you are a LEO, be honest with yourself. How often do you dry practice drawing your firearm? How often are you at the range? How often are you practicing moving and shooting, bounding, shooting from behind barricades, etc.? Unless you're constantly practicing, you've grown complacent with simply having that gun on your hip and therefore are now incompetent with it.
Self defense, real world survival, must be practiced with the same mentality. It's not enough to practice choreographed "one steps" in the dojo with a compliant or semi-resistant partner. You must go through training that continuously pushes the boundaries and dances on the line between safe and real. Of course, as instructors it would be negligent not to take every safety precaution necessary, but there are ways to create that "Oh crap, I might actually die" feeling in a student while still having full control as the instructor over the situation (if you don't believe me, I encourage you to attend our next Seminar of Brotherhood in May, 2017). There is more to self defense training than physical technique. I can teach you all the techniques in the world, but if you panic and wet yourself under pressure then it doesn't matter. You're dead. Period.
Now, I don't know about you but I'd rather my students bleed on the mat than die on the street. As cliche as it sounds, in the dojo is where we can assess the situation and address the problems that the students encounter. If they struggle with certain scenarios, we can drill it until they feel confident. And let's be honest, if you are 100% in the dojo you're only going to be at 50% in real life, so how can you afford to be anything less than 100%? How can you afford not to continuously push yourself and your students? Age, gender or fitness level are not excuses. "Please don't attack me, I'm old and out of shape" isn't enough to make the assailant rethink their actions, but ripping out his jugular certainly is. You're going to get punched in the mouth. You're going to get stabbed and sliced. You might even be shot. But where and how many times is up to you.
But if you're not out there striving to prepare yourself and your students for the realities of the world we live in, you haven't earned the right to call yourself a martial arts instructor (in my opinion) because no matter why they joined, every student who walks through your doors expects to learn how to protect themselves. Every student, every mother or father, every brother, sister or cousin of those people on your floor looks to you for protection whether you like it or not. They are putting their life in your hands. If that's too much for you, shut your doors and walk away now because unless you are training your students to deal with the psychological aspects of a real attack and how to control their adrenaline, unless you're teaching them how to overcome their body's natural response to freeze and instead fight back, then you are selling false hope. If you've grown complacent with the status quo, then you, my friend, have grown incompetent.