Monday, March 17, 2014

Self Defense

I like the idea of self defense. I've never been one to rely on someone else to help me. Not with my luggage at the airport (I never pack more than I can maneuver on my own), not to shovel me out after a huge snow dump (of which we've had many this winter), and not to save me if someone is trying to do something bad to me.

If help should be offered in any of the above situations, I will most likely take it and say thank you, but I don't count on someone to be there or to be helpful if they are there. Most people prefer to ignore a need for help as opposed to offer assistance so I'm a "handle it myself" kind of girl.

I consider myself a fairly strong person in the physical realm thanks to lots of gym time but I don't overestimate my ability to turn the tables on a stronger person should they choose to inflict harm on me. And I don't like that. I want to at least give myself a fighting chance if push comes to shove with an ill-intending figure. When an opportunity to take an intensive self defense class came up, I signed up and tried to draft as many of my lovely girlfriends to come with as I could. This is important stuff people!!

The class was filled with women of all ages and different levels of physical abilities. It didn't matter. The course was designed to give everyone the basics of how to create space to get away from an aggressor, inflict a little pain, and make a run for it. It also taught us how to assess a situation, how to verbally buy time in a dangerous situation, and strategies to get the attention and potential assistance from anyone nearby if you're fortunate enough to be approached in a public place.

The instructors didn't try to scare us, but they train most of the local law enforcement agencies and the information they did share was of things happening in our picturesque suburban utopia. Ugly stuff. Violent stuff. But all real life events that seldom make it to the local news. I appreciated the honesty and am now more aware of what to look for to keep myself safer as I'm out and about. There is a lot of messed up stuff happening and I don't want to be another clueless woman who is too busy texting to realize that there are clear signs of danger right in front of me.

Women in general are a vulnerable group. Someone who wants to attack or abduct you is counting on you to be scared, to freeze up, and to comply with their orders. They count on their larger body mass, and in some cases a weapon, to intimidate and easily overpower you. They are not expecting you to whip around and face them, groin kick them like you're splitting them in two and follow it up with a palm heal punch and hammer fist combo and run like hell. That makes you a whole lot less appealing to deal with.

I knew I would like the class when one of the first things the instructor said is that "Today is about learning how to fight dirty. And women have to be the dirtiest fighters out there." It wasn't about building a false sense of security or talking about what to do, it was 3 hours of punching, kicking, flipping a person off of you on the ground, and learning how to assess situations and make the best possible odds for you to walk away (or run like hell!)

I hope that I never have to use anything that I learned. The cuts and bruises and sore muscles I have from just practicing are quite enough trauma for me. But it's nice to know that I've been given a foundation of information that will help me override my freeze response and come out swinging! Watch out sucka, this one is a fighter!

I would strongly encourage anyone to take a proactive step and learn how to better protect and defend yourself through a self defense course at your local martial arts studios or law enforcement agency when they offer it. There is no better investment of your time and money. DO IT!