About FSD

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FunctionalSelfDefense.org is here to provide you with an easy to navigate, comprehensive resource on functional self defense.

Real self defense may not be what you think it is. It's not what's taught in most martial art schools, or what you see in the movies. Real, comprehensive self defense skills require an understanding of violence, awareness, and prevention, effective techniques, a variety of training methods, and a solid strategy for both unarmed and armed attacks. The majority of martial arts and self defense courses focus on only one or two of those areas, and often unrealistically.

FunctionalSelfDefense.org is here to remedy that.

What Is FSD?

Functional Self Defense is a comprehensive combination of strategies, training methods, and techniques designed to provide practitioners with highly efficient and effective self defense skills. It covers all ranges (stand up, clinch, and ground) and areas of self defense, from awareness and non-physical prevention to the use of weapons and multiple opponents.

Where Did It Come From?

FSD was created by David Erath, after many years of researching, training, experimenting, and teaching.

Who Is David Erath?

I was born and raised in New Orleans. I've taught self defense for more than 20 years, including full time in New Orleans for 10 years. Hurricane Katrina changed my path, and I quit teaching for a living two years after the storm (2007). I still train and teach on a limited private basis, outside of New Orleans.

I started training as a kid in Shotokan, and then in a karate-based self defense system, which I began teaching in the early 1990s. In 1994 I started taking Aikido and Jeet Kune Do (along with the associated styles...Wing Chun, Thai Boxing, Inosanto-blend Kali, etc.). At first I used the new material I was learning to compliment the karate-based system I was teaching, but around 1997 I realized that most of what I had learned was not as efficient and effective as it could be for self defense.

I started teaching when murders and assaults in New Orleans were at their worst, when New Orleans had a higher murder rate than any other city in the US, if not in the world. It was a dangerous place, and it directly affected my life. Myself and many of my friends and family members have been victims of armed robberies and assaults. One of my friends and one of my teachers were murdered. I've witnessed five shootings myself. Because of this, my interest and emphasis has always been on effective self defense rather than art or sport.

Over the years I've trained in a variety of systems as diverse as boxing, BJJ, Pekiti Tirsia, and Tai Chi. I've trained with a number of the most well known instructors in the world, in addition to other lesser known but outstanding teachers. I have black belts in a couple of these systems. I prefer not to name my teachers here, as much of what I teach now is not representative of what I was taught. In many cases what I teach now contradicts or goes against what I was taught.

Because I felt, and still do today, that no system I learned dealt with self defense sufficiently and comprehensively, in breadth and depth, I started teaching my own mix of techniques, training methods, and strategies. In 1998 I named the system Hertao, and in 2012 I changed the name to Functional Self Defense or FSD. You can read more about this change here.

Where Can I Take Classes?

There are currently no public FSD classes on offer, but there is a comprehensive book you can purchase here. Seminars are possible based on availability. If you'd like to be notified when FSD training material or classes become available, please leave your name and email address in the form below:

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I Have Questions

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