Frank Zappa Could Have Been an Excellent Self Defence Instructor

by | Dec 3, 2022

Frank Zappa Self Defence

“Frank Zappa Would Have Been an Excellent Self Defence Instructor”

Okay, your first thought might be, “What the hell is Chris talking about now? Has he gone off the deep end?” Now, depending on your age, you might be wondering who the hell Frank Zappa is.

Frank Zappa was often considered the father of underground rock, a maverick guitar specialist who pushed the limits in everything he did. He was a freethinker whose style might be the most difficult to explain of any rock star, but that was part of his genius.

I came upon this interview with Frank Zappa many years ago, which caught my interest immediately with its association with what I see in the Violence Prevention and Self Defence industry.

When asked if he considered himself a great guitarist, he said, “Well, I am specialized. What I do on the guitar has little to do with what other people do on the guitar. Most of the other guitar solos you hear performed on stage are practiced over and over and over again.”

Let me stop there since that single line stopped me and caught my attention immediately. The last line directly connects to how most self-defence is taught and trained. The instructor will pick out a “self-defence technique” or particular attack and have the students practice it over and over with the goal of what Frank next says in the interview regarding guitar solos. He says, “They go out there and play the same one every night. It’s really just spotless.” The look on his face is priceless when he says that line.

But that is precisely what the self-defence drills look like as well. The self-defence techniques might look sloppy at first, but with that consistent practice, they become spotless. Or the instructor is walking around correcting the placement of the feet or the block. Anything that does not meet their definition of how self-defence should look.

What is Frank Zappa’s theory with guitar solos? He says, “My theory is this, and I have a basic mechanical knowledge of the instrument, and I’ve got an imagination. And when the time comes up in the song to play a solo, it’s me against the laws of nature.”

That line so aligns with self-defence I couldn’t believe it. Frank understands the principles and concepts, as we would say in self-defence. With guitar solos, he does not limit himself to any particular structure of what he “has to do.” That thinking alone in self-defence is much more productive with the ability to adapt to the moment and circumstances. His only loyalty is to himself and what he can create based on the circumstances.

Then Frank says, “I don’t know what I’m gonna play or what I’m gonna do. I know roughly how long I’ve got to do it. And it’s a game where you have a piece of time, and you get to decorate it.” He further explains using his intuition and how you can do things that are impossible to imagine. But, again, you can’t force your self-defence moves or techniques in an encounter with potential violence. There are too many variables; if your expectations or forced actions do not work, one freezes or crumbles under the moment-to-moment variables.

Frank says, “If you had to play the same notes every night, isn’t that like punching a clock?” So, yes, repetition has its place in self-defence training, but when it becomes mundane and loses its realism, the training might become more detrimental.

When the interviewer tells Frank she finds his comments so refreshing, and Frank says, “Well, most people won’t take that chance because I’ll take that chance to go out there and make a mistake.” Suppose we approached self-defence training like this; how refreshing that would be. Make your mistakes in training with the hopes of limiting them in real life if they were to happen. If you are not screwing up, getting hit, or missing opportunities in training, you will when it has life-and-death consequences.

Frank says that when people saw him live, it was a unique situation that would only happen once. Same in self-defence, every scenario regarding violence is unique, with its unique variables, so you can’t treat them all as the same and equal.

This one interview about “guitar solos” has more self-defence value than many self-defence interviews. By keeping an open mind to all opinions, whether directly related to self-defence or not, we can improve and enhance our survivability, whether we are instructors or students.

For more violence prevention education, please review our site here are or our friends at Study of Violence – FREE Foundations of Violence Course

Keep SAFE!

Chris Roberts, FOUNDER SAFE Violence Prevention & Self Defence