Now I don't disagree with Leo, but I feel this is a hard sell for martial arts.
To my previous analogy, do you wear one of these $650 Shark Sheild devices anytime you get in the sea as you'd rather "have it and not need it" (video on that page is great scare mongering!)
A good point, it definitely is a hard sell. I think that it's a very personal decision. As I said, I train MA for sport, not self defense, but I still think that there is value for the purposes of self defense.
Designed by who? reducing the importance by how much?
This is too difficult to answer in a single post or article. In my case, Judo was designed by Jigoro Kano and others who have followed. The reduction depends on the individual, MA they train, time spent training, teachers, etc. Again, no studies that I'm aware of have focused on this. If I had statistics I would give them to you, but I don't.
I really dislike this particular statement. I think it misleads many people who are uneducated in MA and many who ought to know better.
I'm not sure why this fact would make you uncomfortable. I do not think it's misleading, joint locks take very little effort to apply. They hurt a lot when partially applied and result in fracture and dislocation when hyper-extended. The same can be said for chokes and strangles. I was almost choked unconscious in about 2 seconds just yesterday in training when I got caught in one of these: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangle_choke.
I tapped immediately. Denying the risks involved with such techniques would be irresponsible and misleading, such techniques should be treated with care.
But are vague and unhelpful statements like these used to justify the need and effectiveness of Martial arts?
They are vague because I don't want to name individuals who I train with. At least 10 women have successfully thrown me over the course of my 3 years training a grappling MA. I think that if they can throw someone of my weight and height who is resisting, they have better chances of being able to physically defend themselves if they need to.
I think there is more honesty in education as it is easier to measure outcomes through exams/post education employment.
-How many clubs/styles/associations think they do not teach effective self defence? (Or how many think they teach effective SD when they clearly do not?)
Where are you asking this about? Surely you don't expect us to know this information worldwide.
My Dojo doesn't teach Judo as self defense, we only train sport Judo. There is a Jujitsu class which covers some of that sort of thing but I'm not involved with Jujitsu any more.
-How many would turn away a pupil who stated that their only reason for training was self defense?
You mean, if they are not a self defense focused school? My Dojo would direct the student to training Jujitsu. I think it depends on how money-minded the instructors are.
-How many would give a genuine advice about (or have knowledge of) free alternatives to MA training? (as has been discussed) here)
You'll typically find this in the RBSD schools. For example, I know of a one-off self defense class which was recently taught by a police officer which was hosted by a Krav Maga school nearby where I live. Some people I know who attended the class told me that they weren't taught any Krav Maga and only received a brochure about the school after their class finished. Definitely doesn't seem like too much marketing to me.
-How many give realistic expectations about self defence abilty? (Can this be done?)
It can be done, but I think it rarely is. I think that a person's chances are slim if they are surprised. You should only have to engage in physical self defense if you're cornered or surprised (avoidance and awareness should take care of the other cases in theory). That said, people have survived confrontations where they had to fight their way to safety (there are some mentioned in the SD forums and you see them in the papers every so often).
Thanks for posting those statistics, you'll find similar stats for the USA in the sticky post at the top of the self defense forum.