Recently, we had the privilage of working with young women’s groups from Bountiful, Salt Lake City and the surrounding areas. I always feel deeply honored to have an opportunity to apply my knowledge of the Martial Arts and Self Defense (which I feel is a separate, though related entity) towards keeping people safe and confident in themselves.
It’s a very difficult task however. I know that many of these groups expect to be taught a magical karate chop and Spock Neck Pinch that will instantly, easily and humanely disable and immobilize thier would be attacker. And although I do believe in the effectiveness of Martial Arts techniques (heh, I teach them for a living), I am experienced enough to know, one or two moves taught to a group of 20 or so teens in the course of an hour will probably only be good for entertainment purposes.
So I feel that is more ethical to expose these myths (the existence of magical, stop them in their tracks, Martial Arts techniques) and to educate young women about the realities and profiles of the types of predators most likely to attack them. The focus of my 1 hour workshops tend to stay centered on prevention and education rather than fisticuffs.
Many predators and attackers will be known and familiar with their victems. Much more uncommon is the boogey man in a ski mask that jumps out of the bushes. It is this statistic that makes it even more difficult to gouge out an eye ball to defend one’s honor.
So the essential lesson is on what we call the 5 stages of attack prevention:
1. Be A Hard Target – “Be The One With The Knife Mentality”
Predators, whether animal or human will try to seek out weak or weak appearing targets. This is why women, children and the elderly are more often targets than young males. Keep in good shape, walk with confidence (head held high, shoulders back, good posture), speak with confidence and be assertive.
2. Be Aware
Be cognizent of your surroundings and who has entered your general area. Listen for ques of potential danger (gunfire, raised voices, running). Look for things that are out of place (heavy coats in summer time, someone who seems agitated or aggressive) Don’t let people come up from behind you.
3. Establish A Verbal Perimeter
If your “Spidey Sense” tells you that something isn’t right, trust it. If someone approaches (gets past your first two lines of defense, i.e. being a Hard Target and Being Aware) stop them with a firm, calm and assertive greeting. “That’s close enough. Is there something I can help you with.” Make sure that the Verbal Perimeter is beyond your arms length.
4. Establish A Physical Perimeter
If the person ignores your Verbal Perimeter, your hands should come up. Think traffic cop. Open palms arms extended. This space is essential for giving you the reaction time you need to physically defend yourself. If somone trys to enter your personal space, the area inside arms lenght, I think it safe to assume they don’t have your best interests in mind.
5. Throw Down
Something has gone seriously wrong. Either you’ve completely failed at the 4 previous layers of defense or this person is Hell bent on your destruction. It’s time to pull out all the stops. It’s difficult enough to defend yourself, don’t be so concerned about protecting the bad guy too (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “but I don’t want to hurt him”). There are many techniques that can be used. And these are beyond the scope of the workshop but this is where the last line of defense is drawn.
Hear what people have said about our “Women’s Self Defense” workshops:
Thank you for your self-defense class. The things you taught will help us to defend ourselves in real-life. Your focus on awareness and prevention is especially helpful. Hopefully being aware and confident I will prevent me from being a victim, but should I ever be attacked I feel empowered knowing how to stop a killer in his tracks. I also like how you taught us to stay more than an arms distance from any stranger who might approach us, and that when our personal space is violated it’s time to take action. These are valuable things for all young women to know. Thank you for your time and expertise.
The girls really enjoyed the workshop! They still ‘practice’ some of the moves we learned on each other. I think that the points of self defense that do not require actual physical defense (i.e. noticing your surroundings, etc) were VERY beneficial, especially since the girls are at such a young age and will remember that for the rest of their lives. I also liked how you focused not just so much on the moves, but on the ‘real’ aspects of self-defense, and the useful tips you gave us, like where to safely sit while in a restaurant, and how to realistically prevent someone from invading your ‘bubble’. I asked for their input on the workshop and they all loved it. I would highly recommend the workshop, as well as your business, to anyone, and I know the girls would as well. It was a very good activity and it’s amazing how learning just a few simple moves and tips can save a life!
Thanks again, Brian!