Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Self Defense: More Than Fighting

Self defense involves much more than just being physically skilled at fighting. Self defense is not fighting. It involves awareness, threat assessment, verbal assertion, de-escalation and the physical skills are only a small aspect of personal defense. In fact, there have been people with no training, who have successfully defended themselves. Personal defense, finding oneself in a defensive situation, also involves psychological, physiological and legal aspects. A good self defense program will educate about these vitally important areas.

Violence is more involved than the impressions we have embedded in our minds. Through media and other means, it is often thought that violence is merely the physical attack whether by surprise, or not. But our personal safety is much more than physical.

In applying self defense skills, one must understand that it doesn’t mean going from feeling alarmed to immediately implementing physical force. This does not mean a feeling of insult, humiliation, shame or anger makes physical force justifiable. It means knowing of immediate danger of grave bodily harm. Harm as in death or dismemberment, not a broken nail or broken pride.

Personal safety is an issue females think of often. Experiences may have conditioned them to be vigilant in assessing environment and situation. No matter how vigilant, one must be prepared, and self defense training should give the tools and skills for that preparation. There are many great programs with a common goal of providing accurate, practical, valuable skills and information.

One of the most important tools we have for our safety is intuition. Often ignored, it is our greatest ally. It communicates to us in a myriad of ways. If we disregard it, efforts are stepped up to try to get our attention. Learning to listen is essential. Gavin de Becker’s book The Gift of Fear is a remarkable resource to learn more about intuition and learning to listen.

Subtle Warrior Self Defense provides mobile, on-site personal safety education. In our dedication to educate, upcoming blogs will cover the various aspects of self defense. So be sure to check back to learn more!
© Lisa Abbott, Subtle Warrior Self Defense, LLC 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Self Defense... the begining

As a former traditional/classical martial artist, I have had the wonderful opportunity to train in the 'old school' ways, which was very harsh and very militaristically regimented. All in all, it was quite exciting and exhiliarating for me. But as the training came to an end, I knew that I was not fully prepared to handle a realistic self defense situation. Many times the traditional martial arts schools fail to fully prepare it's female students for a realistic situation. Sure we may be able to handle a sparing match in which contact may be made... my style was full contact! so I knew I was well trained and fully prepared for that stranger to attack me from out of a dark alley.
But no matter how much preparation on the dojo floor we go thru, it is all still very much controlled. As I said we were full contact, we didnt wear protective equipment and we worked out on concrete. Yep ol' school to the max... but there were still rules of safety, most certainly. The sparing certainly prepared me for close, face-to-face combat. It is an aspect that took me 8 years to adjust to and come to sincerely enjoy. But when it came down to it the opponent was not a stranger from a dark alley. I was unprepared.
It was this experience that started my path to empower women with self defense skills. Covering all aspects, not just the physical blocks and strikes, but the psychological terror, the physiological fear response and the absurdly verbal assertiveness. Many times we can avert a confrontation by being able to assert ourselves verbally. 'KIAI' doesn't always cut it. We must practice the skills we need in order for them to be available to us in a crisis situation. "STOP" "GET BACK" "BACK OFF" may be more appropriate to practice yelling for ordinary everyday women, who simply want the tools of personal safety. Yelling "Kiai" at an assailant doesn't make sense when what you really want him to do is "LEAVE ME ALONE"
So even tho we can never really 'practice' self defense skills, we can certainly drill and prepare for self defense situations. Knowing how to assess potential situations, recognizing threatening circimstances, learning what happens to the body under duress, and knowing what options we have to draw from will give us confidence. That confidence in itself, may help us to avoid a situtaion to begin with, becuase predators look for good victims, and confidence in oneself does not a good victim project.
Welcome to my blog. Your personal safety is ultimately up to you. You are your best defense.