Some day, I'd like to instruct self-defense classes for women. Eventually, that means certification, I suppose, but between Fight Like a Girl, R.A.D., S.A.F.E. and other systems, there're a lot of different types of programs out there, it seems. I think I know what the type of course I want to teach should contain, but I haven't quite found it yet. So I'm still looking.
In addition to the research, I've decided to check out a few workshops and seminars. Last week, I traveled upstate to the Red Dragon Karate School for Sensei Jeff Melander's seminar in Ballston Spa. I met him at a seminar a few years ago when I took his kicking class on the advice of my sensei. I still do many of the drills I learned from him then when training today.
His Women's Self-Defense seminar was for folks who had no previous martial arts training or experience. Most were mothers of Sensei Jeff's younger karate students or teen daughters of some of his adult students. All were dressed in sweats and t-shirts but I took the opportunity to actually try something I've always wanted to do: throwing techniques in something other than what I'd wear in the dojo - hence jeans, a button-up top and sandals.
Awareness was the key word of the day, as Sensei Jeff discussed ways to be more observant of what's happening around you. He also talked about the importance of walking confidently, keeping your hands free/keys at the ready and parking in well-lit areas. Unlike martial artists who are used to yelling/kiai-ing on a regular, he told the group to get used to using their voices before, during and after an attack. Two of his female black belts helped him as well - meaning he was their uke for wrist grab, rear bear hug and hair-pulling attacks. He used their natural responses - hands open and in front of the body, boxing the ears, elbow and knee strikes to segue into escape tactics the group later worked on individually.
Then he slid into "the suit" - you know, the protective full-body armor that enabled the participants to actually try the techniques with full speed and power without actually hurting the attacker. All of the women had a difficult time warming up to that at first - and several even commented about how much more menacing he looked dressed in a shiny black suit and helmet - but after a few tries, strikes were flying towards his eyes, ears, groin and shins. So used to being "nice" to my uke in the dojo, he actually had to remind me to NOT be so controlled and delicate when it was my turn to keep him at bay/get him off me. I had no problem engaging him, but I found that I pulled every single knee and elbow strike. Gotta work on that!
Any certified self-defense instructors out there? How did you decide on the program you ultimately chose for your certification?
For more information on how to chose a self-defense program, click here.