Keeping It Real: The Truth About Women’s Self-Defense

October 28th, 2011 | By Randy McElwee No Comments


In collaboration with Randy McElwee, owner/director of American Black Belt Academy

As she walked home alone, the young woman began to feel uneasy.  Turning, she saw a man in dark clothing and ski mask emerge from the bushes. He grabbed her and tried to drag her from the sidewalk.
This is generally how the story and perception go, but rarely how an actual attack occurs.  From advertising to news reporting, movies and television, violence against women (and how women respond to that violence) is flagrantly misrepresented.  Rapists are most often portrayed as smelly, psychotic strangers who jump from behind bushes.  Their features are sometimes exaggerated to the point of being monster-like figures with hidden faces.  Rarely are attackers depicted as friends, acquaintances, or family members of their victims.
Yet the overwhelming majority of assailants know their victims; in fact, the American Medical Association (AMA) reports that about 75% of sexual assaults are committed by a friend, acquaintance, intimate partner or family member of the victim.  Thus there is typically some sort of emotional connection between the victim and the assailant, so teaching effective women’s self-defense is more complicated than just a kick in the groin and a rake to the eyes.
Women are encouraged by parents, partners and media coverage during times of tragedy to attend a safety or self-defense class. These workshops typically offer only a cursory lecture or course,  but even more concerning is the number of women that do seek real training and get an inadequate answer to their search for real self-defense tools.
To be truly effective, self-defense programs should be based on the following:

  • Knowledge of actual attacks
  • Tools for recognizing, avoiding, preventing and ultimately defending against assault
  • Recognition of creative defense strategies woman already have
  • Opportunities to practice their skills
  • Assistance in overcoming the self-imposed fear of hurting another human being

Attackers come in all forms and prey on women’s core traits:  kindness, caring, trust and willingness to help others.  In order to effectively defend yourself, you must not only be trained in the physical techniques to escape, but also the verbal, mental and intuitive aspects to avoid, recognize and prevent potential attack.

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