Another Blogging Carnival
This post is part of the second blogging carnival being orchestrated by Colin Wee from over at Joong Do Kwan. This month’s carnival is being hosted by Charlie over at Bunkai Jutsu. Two great blogs to check out for more information on practical martial arts.
Women’s Self Defense
A very common trend in martial arts school is to teach a women’s self defense course as a means of extra income and to recruit potential members. The come in different packages, but some common ones are a full day seminar on women’s self defense and a [pick any number] week program on every [pick any day of the week]. In my own experiences, the average course offers 10 to 20 hours of instruction, is only open to mothers and daughters, and encourages people with no experience to “learn how to defend themselves”.
These programs offer a great service to the community, and do not mistake me, any self defense training is better than none, but they often are flawed from the beginning. Here are three common mistakes I see that should be kept in mind when running a women’s self defense program and signing up for one.
Learn Defense in Only Ten Lessons
As I mentioned, the average program is around 10 to 20 hours of instruction. I have seen some as low as 6 hours. Does it seem funny that people practice karate for their entire lifetime and are still learning at the very end, but someone should feel confident in their defense ability after only a few lessons? As I said before, any defense skills are better than none, but if you want to learn to defend yourself – enroll in a real defense program. This doesn’t have to be karate (though it is awesome), but continuous practice is the key.
No Men Allowed
There is definitely a comfort factor in knowing you can go workout and learn how to defend yourself without some big guy in the back staring at you. The problem here is that most schools don’t have any male instructors to help provide realistic practice. I had a friend who took a women’s self defense course in college and felt completely comfortable protecting herself. She had eight lessons where other girls in the class “attacked” her and she could defend herself. She challenged a buddy of mine to attack her so she could prove herself. He just sat on her – with little effort.
Why didn’t her defense skills work this time? It is very different to protect yourself from a 110 pound girl who is going through the motions compared to a 190 pound guy who actually wants to attack you.
I have seen some schools who encourage women to bring their husbands and boyfriends as partners for the self defense course to provide a more realistic feel. Instructors be warned though – this can lead to the couple getting carried away with the drills.
Technique vs Mentality
The last thing I commonly see go wrong is women’s self defense classes that teach too many techniques and not enough mental training. I can teach hundreds of techniques to escape from various holds and attacks, but telling women not to wander around alone, at night, in dark alleyways is going to be much more effective in keeping them safe. A good self defense program understands this and teaches women a stronger mentality when thinking about defense. Knowing when to leave a situation because it is getting dangerous and to avoid being alone in unfamiliar places.
I should also point out – this isn’t women’s self defense, it is just good defense. I don’t make it a habit of being alone in dark places at night. I am 175 and in the military – but that doesn’t matter because it is a stupid plan no matter who I am. If you are going to teach a seminar on women’s self defense, the majority should be about how to think about defense, rather than how to do techniques to escape holds. If they want to know a lot of techniques, like I said before, join a martial arts school and practice the techniques for years, not hours.
Women’s self defense programs are great, but not perfect. Consider these common mistakes when setting up your own program or looking for one to join in your own area. If you have taken a women’s self defense program before, what was the most useful part of it? Instructors, what is the hardest part of your program to teach to women?