Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rules of Engagement for Using Physical Skills Self Defense (#2)

As I wrote 2 days ago, there are no "rules of engagement" for self-defense.

Once you begin fighting back physically, keep going until you’ve cleared your escape. You can think of this as fighting until your assailant is either on the ground, stunned, or running away (do NOT run after them). In most cases, this is 1 or 2, up to about 5, good techniques. Do NOT pause in the middle – you would be giving your assailant the time they need to recoup and remount their own attack. Stay in motion. Keep at least one of your weapons (hands/feet/elbows/knees) on the assailant at all times.

Take their balance.
If the assailant is off-balance, they will have difficulty continuing their attack. Remember to find where their “kangaroo tail*” or “third leg*” should be. Use your hip check* to send them downwards into that point.

You will be too close for your comfort. Most likely you will want to get FAR AWAY from the creep. Yet in a fight you will very likely be in hugging distance. Yes, that is where you want to be, and it will be unsettling. This proximity will give you your best position to fight back effectively.

Practice you physical moves so that they are smooth and reflexive.

And remember that all the smooth moves in the world are useless if your brain is denying  that somebody is in the process of harming you.

*Learn how to do these and more in Strategic Living's self-defense classes for women.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Rules of Engagement for Using Physical Skills Self Defense (#1)

First, there are no rules.

Rules are for sports and other forms of civil conduct. Assault is most definitely uncivil.

Your goal -- should you realize that is this one of the rare instances where you need to physically fight back -- should be to disable your attacker long enough to escape. Strikes or gouges to the eyes, throat, groin, and knees are most quickly and effectively debilitating. These targets are not pain-dependent, are easy to find, and you don't need perfect aim or great speed and strength.

Sometimes this is referred to as "dirty" fighting. I simply call it self-defense. Personally, I feel that calling self-defense somehow "dirty" bathes it in a transgressive mystique, simultaneously fascinating and transgressive. I don't buy into that usage. Self-defense should not be relegated to the fringe of indecency. (I prefer to reserve the phrase "dirty" fighting for instances of sports fighting where one contender uses illegal techniques to win.)

We are the only species on the planet that not only largely discourages females from learning physical safety skills, we also largely and deliberately disseminate MIS-information about women's abilities to fight effectively. The 411 on women's self-defense is emPOWERing.

Learn more about self defense classes in Seattle -- skills you can use.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Creepy and Kooky, Revisited

Two weeks ago I blogged about a Manitoba judge's sentencing for a rapist:

http://safetyinseattlenews.blogspot.com/2011/02/its-creepy-and-its-kooky-but-neither.html

Today I found this spot-on blog post that begins with the very same judge (blog written by Krista Ball):


http://kristadball.com/blog/archives/553

The bigger picture, aside from a single judge's sentencing, is the depiction of rape.  It's not about sex, it's not about a "misunderstanding," it's about power and control.

It's about teaching consent, so sorely missing because of embarrassment and/or shame around sex. Open discussion around these difficult topics would remove some of the stigma, and perhaps even result in a few more young women recognizing how to set their own boundaries and NOT GET RAPED.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Fuzzy Formula, or Still Another Reason Why Rape is Under-Reported

When can no "no" = yes?

When someone does not clearly communicate a lack of consent to sexual acts. At least under the law, according to the King County Prosecutor's Office.

I don't closely follow sports, but you'd have to be living under a rock in Seattle to miss the story of UW basketball star player Venoy Overton allegedly providing alcohol to two 16 year old girls and engaging in sexual acts with them. 

You can read the Seattle Times' story of his arrest for providing alcohol here: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2014433742_overton09m.html. Please note that he has not been charged with sexual assault, because:
King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Carol Spoor called the case "highly problematic" because the girl participated in sex acts under "situational pressure."
State law, Spoor wrote, "places the burden on the victim to clearly communicate a lack of consent to the suspect, which she did not do."
Most of the articles on this incident focus on the loss to the team of this player, at least for the Pac-10 tournament.  However, UW basketball coach Lorenzo Romar is quoted as saying he'd put Overton back on the team roster should they be invited to the NCAA tournament (otherwise known as "March Madness").  Because his guy made a mistake, and this is a teachable moment.

As a teacher, I'm all for the teachable moment. Some mistakes, however, are more far-reaching than are others, and I am also all for appropriate consequences. For the girl who feels coerced, this experience will likely be deeper and longer-lasting than any repercussions felt by either the Huskies or Overton.

Every teenager and young adult will face "situational pressure."  (Heck, EVERY person will face situational pressure, over and over, in their lifetimes.)  These instances can feel like being stuck between a rock and a hard place: the choice often seems to be between going along with the group or not having friends. How do we help young people recognize what they want for themselves, honor that, and still live fulfilling social lives? 

This should be a teachable moment for young people, male and female, about consent.  But we won't be seeing that in the sports pages -- or any other media pages -- anytime soon. Sexual assault is the social-issue wolf disguised in the individual-sheep's-problem clothing.

Madness, indeed, is not limited to March.

PS - Learning to assert boundaries is sadly lacking in too many teen girls today. This kind of sensible savvy is practiced in Strategic Living's For Teen Girls Only Self Defense classes. Next session will be April 2 in Burlington WA, and then April 9 in Seattle on the UW campus.

Friday, March 11, 2011

I Do Not Fear Charlie Sheen!

Basically, because I am really, really, really far off his radar.  So that's easy for me to say.

I just read Should Women Fear Charlie Sheen Now?  According to this article, some women should have feared him over a decade ago.  Others may have cause to fear him now.  I would say the degree of fear is directly correlated with one's physical and emotional proximity to Sheen.  He seems to be a tad unstable, must be the drugs talking.

My professional advice: if you happen to see Charlie Sheen coming, just walk the other way.

BUT I also want to emphasize that if a woman does find herself in close proximity to Sheen and he DOES shove her or throw furniture at her (or both), SHE IS NOT TO BLAME.  Mr. Sheen, drugs or no drugs, is wholly responsible for his actions and should be held accountable for his choices.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Violent Girls: A Dubious Equality?

Last weekend I attended the Association of Women Martial Arts Instructors' annual conference. Great presentations on a variety of topics, including one relevant to this blog.  Silke Schultz presented Understanding the Roots of Aggression, about social conditions that lead some people to violence and possible ways to mitigate the effects of these negative conditions.

In passing, Schultz noted that in recent years the rate of girls arrested for violent behavior has increased.  This is probably not a surprise to you -- I've been hearing about it for over a decade now.  Actually, what I've been hearing from the media (and repeated by my students) is that girls are becoming increasingly and brutally violent, at astoundingly rapid rates.  About 5-10 years ago this issue was a media darling, with esteemed venues such as Newsweek declaring it a "burgeoning national crisis" (of course until the next burgeoning, or imminent, or catastrophic, crisis steals the headlines).

I am a big fan of gender equality, but media claims that girls are becoming just as violent as boys is not exactly the expression of equality I'd like to be seeing (if we'd like to exploit a different stereotype, I'd rather see that boys are becoming just as relationship-oriented as girls).

Because we live in the Information Age, with just a few clicks of the trackpad I found a paper from the US Department of Justice (DoJ) called Understanding and Responding to Girls' Delinquency.  This article was useful in elucidating issues around girls and violence.

First, as I've been saying in my self defense classes for a LONG time, the rate of violence in the United States is DECREASING.  Looking at the DoJ article's conclusions, the authors found that:
Available evidence based on arrest, victimization, and self-report data suggests that although girls are currently arrested more for simple assaults than previously, the actual incidence of their being seriously violent has not changed much over the last two decades. This suggests that increases in arrests may be attributable more to changes in enforcement policies than to changes in girls’ behavior. Juvenile female involvement in violence has not increased relative to juvenile male violence.
This article also mentioned that assault rates are overall decreasing, and the rate of decrease was more rapid for boys than for girls in some categories.

But what makes a "better" news story -- that girls are increasingly arrested for violence, or that girls are becoming more violent?  Apparently, the latter.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

From Home Alarm Monitoring's Blog

Got an email from one of my blog's readers a few day ago. His company, Home Alarm Monitoring, has its own blog about safety.  He thought that readers of Safety in Seattle would also be interested in this post:

http://www.homealarmmonitoring.org/year/10-types-of-self-defense-anyone-can-learn/

Written by a woman who was mugged right outside her home, she gives ten tips that she feels would have helped her at that time.  I like her emphasis on easy ways to fight back, and in my self defense classes have students drill these, and more.

Thanks, Allen, for sharing!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

AWESOME Online Resource

I was just surfing on the web this morning, and came across an ebook with a totally AWESOME title:

Self-Care and Self-Defense Manual for Feminist Activists

I haven't had a chance to read it cover-to-cover, but just leafing through the pages this appears to be a very thorough and articulate personal safety book.  Certainly better than 99% of what's on the market.

If you are concerned about social justice issues, if you want to be out there making a real difference in the world, and you want to keep yourself physically and emotionally together, download and read!