What your martial arts teacher doesn’t want you to know.
Your BFF calls you up, she’s doing a women’s self defence class and wants you to join her. Why not, it can only make you safer right? Well the answer is – probably not.
The truth is that women every where have been sold a lie. Well meaning or sometimes commercially-minded individuals seek to capitalise on community fear by pedaling lies they suggest will work but in reality never will. Its pretty obvious when you examine the cold hard facts.
The reason behind many people running women’s self defence courses is not really to assist women. Instead it provides a sales pitch to get people to join their martial arts club, and sign up for further classes. These instructors speak with an air of authority, they call themselves experts, but in fact they have most often never encountered real violence. Even if they experienced violence, their knowledge of a rape scenario is no better than that of their audience.
These instructors pedal the myths of foot stomping and kicking people in the testicles. It sounds like every other piece of advice you ever heard from some one or some where. If you hear it often enough then it must have some element of truth. But this is far from the reality.
When we think of rape, we expect someone grabbing a woman from behind on the street and dragging her off to a secluded location where they then carry out their crime. But this is relatively rare in the account of sexual assault victims in general. However this is nearly the only type of scenario that many classes purport to provide instruction for, and even then they get it wrong.
The reality of ambush style attacks
The basics of psychology and science tell us, a skill needs to be practiced over 3000 times. After 3000 repetitions we make it a part of our subconscious, to react in a circumstance as you have been trained. When you are attacked without warning you are overwhelmed by shock, your mind lags behind and as it plays catch up, you are being molded to a plan of the predators choosing. By the time the faint voice in your head shouts for you to stomp the toes the opportunity (if it ever existed) is lost.
Now assuming you had a moments warning the offender grabs you from behind you have recalled your training and you spring to action trying to stomp on your offenders foot and shin. However you find your efforts are in vain – why? The offender chose you, you did not get to choose your offender. The offender has about 40 kilos on you, his work boots and long pants make getting to his supposed vulnerabilities with any force virtually impossible. His tight grip around your torso prevents you from drawing breath and he lifts you immediately slamming you into the ground. This certainly was not part of any seminar you took part in.
So what is the answer?
In reality, women’s self-defence classes teach women a sense of false confidence. Confidence is good, but awareness is even better. Selling people false hope and over confidence that sees them less fearful of danger is not. Fear is an invaluable tool and has evolved as we have. Being aware of how vulnerable you are is more likely to make you safer than trying to learn a new unrealistic skill set that you will not be able to produce when the moment of greatest need arrives.
The key here is not to be easily fooled by the “real scenario” training and 71st Dan black belt instructor. I would always endorse everyone doing a practical martial art, but this requires attendances at classes more than once a week and years of practice to be proficient, and even then you may still be vulnerable in certain situations. What you need is the truth from an expert with experience of rapists, victims and violence of all kinds. They’ll help you learn to recognise the methodology of offenders and the compulsory elements an offender needs to carry out his crime and only then can you understand how to nullify his intent, and keep yourself safe.