Empowering Self Defense



There are new terms cropping up to define woman’s self-defense; empowerment defense; feminist defense.  Whatever the style is called, the driving idea behind these schools is this:

Why spend years studying the martial arts when you can learn to defend yourself in a short amount of time without all the philosophy and practice?

In an attempt to quiet that claim, here is my experience with that question.  My karate adventure started in June of 1985.  The first day I walked into the dojo, I was hooked in the first five minutes.  I loved the discipline and the exercise.  My body quickly became strong and fit.  But the main reason for taking this class, besides wanting to learn to ward off attackers, was that

I had a fear that needed to be addressed

The fear was walking into a dark house. I would leave lights on when I left, and when I came home, I would check every nook and cranny before I felt safe. I didn’t live in the city, but in a small rural town, but still. Anyone can come in your house while you are away, right? You never know who is lurking in the shadows. Where this fear came from, I have no idea. But after the first month of class, I never turned on a light again. Never again did I feel the need to check the darkness. What did I learn in that short time that squelched my fear?

The point is, it doesn’t take long to face your fears and gain confidence.  I learned nothing useful in that month, as far as defending myself, but the foundation was set without even knowing it.  Over the years, many students came through our dojo doors, and within three months, they surprised themselves that what they learned really works. Not to say people go out and test the stuff, but some of them do, and they find years of study is not necessary for protection.

Neither I nor any of these beginning students had even a simple grasp of the martial arts, we weren’t learning martial arts, we were learning techniques that worked.  Like anything else, it takes years of training to become an expert.  But like anything else, one starts at the bottom and works their way up, and advances on only as far as they wish to go.  Even if you perfect only one or two techniques, what you learn is committed to muscle memory, and this will be of good use if you ever have to react, even years later.

Except in the dojo or at tournaments, not once have I used the physical aspects of my art.  I try to avoid dangerous situations and talk my way out of the rest.

Even with all my training, I am not 100% safe from an attack.

It is a good feeling to know you can proactively and calmly handle an attack if it comes your way.  You never know.

Do not wait until you are in a sticky situation and realize you should have taken that class.  Empowerment comes from facing your fears.  Once you do, your confidence will soar.

What is Your Fear?


Book cover of Art of War
The ancient book of strategy against an army or  individual.


2 thoughts on “Empowering Self Defense

  1. Hi, Kristi. I hope you aren’t getting two or three of my replies today. I thought I sent you one, but it didn’t show up here, so here it goes again. Sorry, it took so long to reply. I just found this comment site today. I’m still learning my way around WA…

    There might be someone in your area that doesn’t advertise and has the experience to teach you. Black belts are kind of an odd lot as far as strutting their stuff. Veterans are also good people to go to. They certainly have the experience! You are the kind of audience I want to reach, people that don’t have the time or access to a class. But I’m still working on how I can accomplish that. If you have any ideas, I would certainly appreciate your input. Thanks for the reply.

  2. Hi Carol,

    I’m absolutely the same way you were. Sometimes I just get this creepy feeling and I will leave every light in the house on. I live in a rural area too but I think being in town would make me feel more safe because then there would be neighbors to go to. Out here, well, there’s probably some scary stuff in the woods too, like a bear so I can’t really run anywhere to get help.

    I’ve thought about taking self-defense classes. The only problem is that there are none offered in my area.

    If I ever do find one, are there things you would recommend that I check for to make sure that they offer quality classes?

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