Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Starting SOMEwhere

For a few years now, I've thought about becoming certified to teach women's self-defense. Actually, I've obsessed about it for the better part of the last three years and ended up taking every self-defense seminar and workshop I could just to see just what the actual teaching of one would entail. Mostly, I liked what I saw - except for one thing: the obligatory beating of a man in a padded suit that stemmed from the predication that "stranger danger" - in the form of an evil-doer jumping out from behind the bushes or sneak attacking from behind - is the biggest threat the average Jane faces.

But it isn't. The reality is that the majority of women who are attacked are attacked by people that they know. Here are a few statistics pulled from the National Domestic Violence Hotline website that drives the point home better than I ever could:
*On the average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day.

* One in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.

* One in three teens report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, slapped, choked or physically hurt by a partner.

*As many as 324,000 women each year experience intimate partner violence during their pregnancy.

*Seventy-four percent of all murder-suicides involved an intimate partner (spouse, common-law spouse, ex-spouse, or boyfriend/girlfriend). Of these, 96 percent were females killed by their intimate partners.
The martial artist-me reasonably believes that if I was assaulted, I'd be able to do whatever I needed to physically to get away. But punching a STRANGER in the nose has got to be different than punching someone that I know - and who knows me. And none of the WSD workshops I went to ever addressed that.

So next weekend, I'm putting together one that does :-). A short (two-hour) workshop that mostly emphasizes awareness, avoidance and de-escalation with a little bit of very basic physical techniques, the curriculum is based on the National Women's Martial Arts Foundation's Self Defense Empowerment Model, which is eventually where I will seek certification. Unlike R.A.D., Fight Like a Girl and S.A.F.E. systems, dealing with acquaintance violence is a huge part of the program. I'm really excited and really nervous about it as well.

I'll let you know how it turns out :-)


  1. Good luck,as if it's even needed.


  2. You go girl! Looking forward to hearing about how it turns out! :D

  3. Make sure you learn how to "see" and "hear" what violence is, what is a violent person, etc.

    I have recommended some materials that will really help and would say if you plan on doing this read Rory Miller's book Facing Violence at the very least.

    Rory and others like Marc MacYoung delve into what you say in your post a lot and provide a lot of really important guidance.

    Note that Mr. MacYoung's site, no nonsense self defense, can be a bit daunting but clarity is the watchword for Rory's writings.

    Rory's blog is a big help too, "chiron."

    Good luck, I suspect from my perceived dedication and attitude of your blog says you will do well in this endeavor.


  4. Thanks, all. Mr. James, it will be difficult - but not impossible - to cover it all in two hours, but recognizing what violence is will be included in the "awareness" portion. Thanks for the tip...

  5. Nice post Felicia. I agree with you about the "padded suit".

    Best of luck! I am sure you will do great. :)

  6. About hitting the guy in the padded suit, nothing can replace actually hitting someone and maybe getting hit back. It takes the activity from theory to practice quite quickly.

    Just being able to hit someone may be a long bridge for someone to cross.

  7. Good luck with this - are you including something on de-escalation techniques?

  8. You will do great! I agree with your stats....I work with Domestic Violence victims and perps. It is a different way to defend yourself and keep safe...looking forward to seeing you take this to the next level! Will share this is important for people to read.

  9. Thanks Michelle. The padded suit always got me. Not because it's so...well....PADDED - but because every class I ever went to had all the participants take a whack at the guy in the suit by class end - and it felt NOTHING like hitting someone at all (the suit was quite hard on the skin of the knuckles, palms and knees). Plus it made the person (usually the facilitator) BIGGER (read: bulkier) without adding much more weight. In other words, him falling on me in the suit would not be the same thing as 6'2" dude falling on me/pinning me down. It seemed very unrealistic to me and I could see how it could very easily give someone a false sense of confidence that they could get the upper hand from a big, mean evil-doer simply by kicking once in a two-hour class and never ever practicing the technique again. I understand what you are saying, Rick, about the suit helping a someone who's never hit anyone before be able to start somewhere, but, I still have reservations - especially when no de-escalation or discussions about acquaintance dangers happened at all. Like that, the "Let's beat the crap out of the fella in the padded suit" is too much like "whack a mole" game at the fair - great in a specific context, but not very realistic.

    Sue, de-escalation is most definitely included. Wouldn't do a workshop without it!

    Thanks, Shinzen, for sharing the post - and for the vote of confidence. Both mean a lot, they really do :-)