Short answer? No!
But let me elaborate. Because let's face it; self-defense can be a pretty broad subject.
Many people have asked me, 'Jason, what do you need self-defense for? You could just smash someone if they tried to hurt you... or 'Aren't you being a little paranoid?'
Well let's take a closer look at these questions. First of all, take a look at this old photo, from the days that my son earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Now, if I were a betting man, I'd bet that my son doesn't remember most of those forms he had to drill and drill and drill in order to pass the testing for the black belt, although I bet he could still do a few quick moves if he had to. I would also bet that he didn't even understand how all those various moves could be applied with practicality in real life, since he was just an elementary school student at the time.
But what if he did?
You can tell by looking at the picture, he wasn't exactly a giant of a kid. But I don't think I would have wanted to be on the landing side of one of the many acrobatic kicks I watched him practice so often when he was taking it. And I've been taking Wing Chun now for almost a year. I've learned a lot in that short time, and I have come to realize the application of the self-defense forms can make all the difference in the world. I have also learned from working in law enforcement and keeping up with the world around me, not everyone has noble intentions. And I can think of all sorts of possible practical real life reasons why applying some of this practical self-defense knowledge could be extremely valuable; in an instant, when choices are limited and time is precious. What if my son had been the victim of bullying? To my knowledge, he never really was. But does it happen?
Without a doubt. Could he defend himself in an instant, if someone meant him harm, and would it be justified? Well, of course the last part of that question is situational - but if my son had the same logical understanding of people and their intentions, and knew the same moves he knew back then... then I'd say without a doubt, he could do it. And he would need to.
What about me? I'm not a small man. Six feet, two inches, two hundred sixty-five pounds, give or take five pounds :) -
But there are plenty of people bigger than that. And one thing I have learned to never do over the years in law enforcement, and especially in the last year learning Wing Chun - NEVER underestimate anyone! So is it practical for a big guy like me to learn this self-defense stuff? YES! Not only have I had to help other people take down or hold down someone bigger than me, but I've had my own run-in or two with people who were smaller, faster, and so cat quick, that if they had been able to get close enough to take my duty weapon out of its holster, or wrestle or punch me - I might have been in for a world of trouble. Fortunately, I never trusted people too much to stand real close to them anyway. And I am always watching people's hands.
Which brings me to the next question often posed: Aren't you being a little paranoid?
I can answer this with a NO, but I could see how it could be a Yes, if and only if, I took the self-defense approach to life out of FEAR.
But it's not that I am afraid other people will attack me. It's not out of fear that I acknowledge someone might be bigger, faster, or stronger than me. It's simply out of caution, because seeing what I have seen has proven to me that these conditions can happen. It is out of caution that I acknowledge people might have different intentions than I do, so I want to be prepared in case they have the worst of intentions. It is simply, being prepared. It becomes paranoia when I can't trust anybody.
So where does one draw the line?
Well, I look at it like this. I think that just because most of us know how we should act, doesn't mean we should assume all people will act that way. So although I want to treat all people the way I should treat them, I don't need to walk around being afraid they won't act in kind, but just in case - I have tools I can use and knowledge of something I can do, should they decide to act out harmful intentions.
In other words, walk around treating everyone the way you would want to be treated; carry yourself that way everywhere you go, in everything you do. But meanwhile, you've got an indispensable, portable wealth of perpetual just-in-case knowledge in your back pocket, that you could use in a sudden violent moment, should another persons intentions not be the same as yours.
Yes, some people might call that paranoia; I call it just good, common sense... my two cents :)