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?