Women and self defense classes - are you going the right way?

Posted by Kshipra (College student)
on MAY 31, 2013

Today, as we turn the pages of the newspaper or flip through channels on the television, it is not uncommon to hear about a woman being the victim of a crime like sexual assault, acid attack, dowry death, etc. Infact, as I write this article or when you will be reading it, somewhere, some woman would probably be being subjected to some form of gender based violence. Most forms of oppression have a corresponding form of violence. For women, that violence has historically been manifested as rape. Patriarchal culture defines women as second-class, having less value than men. Sexual assault and rape have been an accepted part of our culture for centuries.

In such a situation, what is a possible solution for a woman? Who can she possibly turn to? Is it her near and dear ones, who very often, themselves are the perpetrators of the crime?Or should she expect a government that cannot think beyond the 2014 elections to provide her with the security and efficient legal system she deserves to have as a citizen of the country?

The answer is neither of the above. She needs to turn to herself, and get prepared to protect her mind and body whenever the need could arise.

We have learnt from the very beginning of our lives that self-help is the best help. The sooner we understand and accept this, the better it is for us. Self-defense consists of being strong enough to defend oneself against any unwelcome attack. More important than being physically strong, is the fact that one needs to be mentally strong to be able to do this.

Those who commit violence against women choose the most vulnerable area of their victims to attack. A woman's emotions and self-image are typically at the center of the bull's eye. Physical force or restraint is often unnecessary for an assailant to succeed. As a result, skills to protect the mind and integrity surpass all others.

The first step towards this could be to shed the traditionally bred values of meekness and

submissiveness to make way for boldness.

Further, a set of physical moves which will effectively defend an individual from immediate danger, and discourage wrong-doers should be mastered. Learning such a physical technique is empowering, and is an invaluable tool for increasing women's self-esteem and selfworth.

Women's traditional archetype leaves them vulnerable because they are routinely discouraged from any sort of aggressive behavior. As children they are denied opportunities to learn to use their bodies in ways which are self-protective. To undo this damage, a good self-defense class is essential.

A simple google search will reveal that there is a plethora of options available to choose from for this very purpose. There are a number of classes on different combat techniques-karate, krav maga, MMA (mixed martial arts), to name some.

But on slightly deeper inspection it can be found that a great number of these techniques were not designed specifically for women, to the extent of also being ineffective for them. Very often, they are too physically straining for the average woman. Women are falsely led to believe that they can really use these kicks effectively in a combat situation.

But the truth is that most martial arts instructors develop self-defense classes merely as an extension or added feature of their physical skills curriculum without any further preparation or research on the real picture about violence against women and the possibly effective strategies to overcome it.

So, as great as these kicking and punching techniques are for the studio or sporty competitions, they turn out to be useless in a real life danger situations. Very often, practitioners simply end up with a false sense of security.

On a personal note, being someone who doesn’t even manage to get enough sleep each night, it is a tad bit impractical for me to take up a martial arts class solely for the purpose of self-defense. It is impractical for me to think that I will be able to manage to devote an adequate amount of time to an art which traditionally takes years altogether to master.

Not to mention how physically taxing it will be on someone who can hardly touch her toes. Also, the I.P.C. only allows for “reasonable” amount of force to be used to defend oneself from imminent threat. So, to top it all off, I might also end up in jail for using excessive force as it is highly likely that the bloke messing with me isn’t the karate expert I am, to actually counter/block my killer moves like my worthy coach does.

It is very important for a woman to weigh her options with extreme caution and scrutiny when it comes to choosing the ideal self-defense class. A smart way to go about it would be to go through this checklist, reasoning out at every step.

Firstly, inorder to be most effective, self-defense classes should include activities that promote and increase a woman's selfesteem and self-worth. In order to be able to defend herself, a woman must perceive herself as having value over and beyond that of an attacker. Women must first feel entitled to be safe and respected.

Thus, a self-defense class should enhance your selfesteem so that you believe that you are worth defending and that no one has the right to attack. These skills are very often missing from conventional, combative women's self-defense classes.

Secondly, an effective self-defense program for women must be based on the kinds of assault women experience commonly. Also, the retaliation techniques should emphasize on the skills women already use and include activities to build new skills based on them.

The techniques that are taught shouldn’t be too tricky or too complicated for the average person to properly execute. Techniques that are highly complicated tend not to be executed properly, if at all, when the pressure is on and adrenaline levels are high.

This is especially true under the duress of an all out attack. This could include techniques like how to attack an assailant grabbing you from behind by stamping his/her foot or delivering an effective groin kick for the same approching you from the front.

Thirdly, it should teach an individual how to use their knowledge in a real world scenario and not just in a typical studio environment. Any amount of training is useless if a person’s body freezes from the shock of being attacked.

Fourthly, a class should teach an individual verbal and physical boundary setting skills. This is a kind of conflict management by the use of voice, tone, and body language to calm a potentially violent situation before violence actually ensues.

It involves the ability to negotiate and verbally de-escalate a potentially violent situation by using strong body language positions based on fighting experiences gained while progressively learning skills in full force and full impact simulated scenarios. Research has shown that many physical confrontations can be avoided by the effective use of these skills.

Choosing the ideal self-defense class is a bigger responsibility than it might seem to be prima facie.

Our safety is in our own hands and we need to ensure that we do justice to that job. It is a good idea to insist on a couple of free trial classes before one takes any decision.

Also, a background check of the instructor and the institute is necessary to determine whether they are competent enough or not.

More important than any kind of preparation, is that a woman needs to be prepare herself, to boldly face any situation that might come her way.

It is important to believe in one’s own self and always remember that there is absolutely nothing to fear, but fear itself.

Self Defense Chennai: A common notion prevails, that self defense and martial arts class are same, it is imperative to understand the difference. Self defense evolved from martial arts, when martial arts are focused on the fighting techniques alone self defense focuses on applying various techniques in real life scenario to protect self. Survival Instincts Chennai based non profit organization conducts EVADE (Extreme violence & Aggression-Defense & Escape) program, which is the only program in India with simulated crime attacks that would not only prepare women to respond to dangerous situations to defend and escape but also help them identify and avoid situations which could be dangerous.

Stay Safe!

About the Author

Kshipra is a college student. A dreamer by nature, she manages to draw inspiration from almost everything that falls in her line of sight.

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