Sunday, March 07, 2010

Attention all women looking for a self defense class

Maybe you saw a demo at a health fair or shopping mall about women's self-defense,  and you're considering taking a class.  The group putting on the demo seemed friendly and knowledgeable, and now you're wondering if their program would be a good fit for your needs.  Here's two important keys to watch for.

In many self-defense demos, you see a male instructor as "attacker" and a female instructor as "defender."  So far, so good.  Now, who does the talking?  Is it a male instructor, or female?  Yes, this IS important!  If you are teaching women to strongly face a real-life assailant, she should be the one talking to the women in the audience.

Second, watch carefully for either (or both) of these two things to happen:  the female defender does her moves but in a tentative manner and a male instructor describes her as being "nice" to her attacker," and over the next 10 minutes the demo actors get shifted so a male instructor has taken over showing the moves.

Is this empowering for women?  (Hint: the answer is no.)

I've seen this scenario happen several times now.  I have no doubt that these are very nice and well-meaning people, and their techniques can be effective.  However, until the women show a real lead in their demos I have a hard time believing that the women they are trying to recruit as students will get two of the most essential self-defense lessons.  Which are, of course, to take charge and use your voice.

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