"Who is wise? He who learns from everyone." Thus say our sages of blessed memory.
When teaching seminars in other countries I ask many questions before I begin; I want to learn the "lay of the land" - how people behave, what the criminals or assailants are after, what motivates the violence.
In Israel, for example, a knife attack by a stranger is most likely a terrorist. However there is also the possibility that it is a drug crazed addict. How can you know? If you live in a very low income area, known for violent crime; the guy might well be a drug addict looking for some money. Or if you happen to be the type who frequents certain types of bars, or if you hang out with shady characters and do business with them; in such cases a man with a knife might very well be a criminal.
However, if you are not that type, and you live in a decent neighborhood, the assailant might very likely be a nationalistically motivated terrorist.
But if you do not live in Israel you might not know this. Every country is different, every region has its own "crime culture". Understanding this culture is important in preparing your defense. A terrorist for example, will not be pacified by offers of money, a drug addict might.
This morning on my El Al flight I was watching an amazing program about elephants in southern Africa. Apparently in certain areas there is a major conflict between elephants and humans; they are struggling over the same limited sources of food. So it was decided to relocate the elephants to another area and thus solve the conflict.
Moving the elephants proved to be quite a serious matter involving all sorts of skills I was unaware of, and challenges I could not have anticipated. Any wrong move could have caused the tragic death of an elephant.
Now this got me thinking; My Israel experience gives me a great deal of knowledge with the issues we deal with; terrorism, airport security, hand to hand combat etc. but no knowledge whatsoever with how to deal with elephants.
I would certainly not be so arrogant as to come to Africa and as a "Self defense expert" offer advice on human vs. Elephant conflicts. I would instead seek to learn about the issue from the locals. Before I could offer advice on this or any self defense issue I must first hear what the locals have to say. They are the experts when it comes to the problems they face. Before I teach I must listen.
The better listener will become the better teacher.
Back to our sages...the beginning of wisdom is humility.