There are a lot of interesting ideas floating around regarding women and self defense. Many classes or seminars specializing in self defense for women will spend time going over situational awareness, conflict deescalation, and other soft skills which is a good thing. Situational awareness is useful in helping one avoid a bad situation to begin with. Take a different route than the secluded street, park your car in a well lit and public area after dark, cross the street to avoid someone or something that might be setting off your radar. Be aware enough to even have a radar. If you are confronted by someone, attempt to deescalate, etc. These are great skills to develop. Where many programs come up short though is in the area of hard skills or hard responses. Face it, many attacks on women are going to be surprise attacks. Locally, just a few weeks ago, a woman was grabbed from behind in a downtown parking garage and raped.
A woman was raped in a Salt Lake parking garage Wednesday night as she walked alone to her car, police said.
The 23-year-old woman was returning to her car about 11 p.m. after having dinner with friends when a man grabbed her in the parking garage at 200 South Main, said Salt Lake Police Sgt. Robin Heiden.
The man grabbed the woman from behind, Heiden said, preventing her from seeing his face.
Yes, soft skills would certainly have helped the victim avoid the situation to begin with, but what about the point at which the attacker grabbed her from behind? This is an area that many programs fail to fully address when they hold women’s self defense classes or seminars. Most hard skills presented in many of these classes are very limited, perhaps going over a few elbow strikes, gouging eyes, groin kicks. Usually directed at a mostly compliant, well padded “attacker.” But they don’t really convey the stress of actually being attacked. Practicing throwing a few elbows and knees doesn’t really mean much if you don’t drill it under the stress of an actual attack or a close approximation of an attack. The whole dynamic changes. An approximation of the violence involved needs to be present for any kind of training to be effective.
Back on February 13, Krav Maga Reborn held a women’s self defense seminar in which we took a bit of a different approach to the whole notion of teaching women to defend themselves. Sure, we went over the soft skills. Also, we went over the hard skills with striking drills and stress drills to induce exhaustion; something hugely important in any kind of self defense training. The women went over basic striking techniques, punches, elbows, knees, eyes, throat, groin, and other soft target strikes.
They hit the pads, they practiced a good fighting stance and ways to generate the most power from their punches, palm strikes, knees and kicks. We introduced chaos into the training to approximate stress. We spun them around until they got dizzy and had them forge forward to attack. And we emphasized that the whole goal of everything they were doing was to be able to create the opportunity to escape; to run away. To survive.
We went over very basic ground skills. Avoid being taken to the ground, but if you end up there basic concepts on how to attack from the ground to create the opportunity to escape. Most everything revolved around fighting and fighting hard. Make noise, make yourself heavy, attack, attack, attack. Once the opportunity to escape presents itself, take it and run.
The ladies had a lot of fun for the first couple of hours of the seminar with the drills, exhaustion, and the camaraderie. Sure, they were learning useful things and having fun doing it. But now it was time to take it to a higher level. To bring out some fear, some desperation and to try to ignite a real need to fight.
The idea behind trying to accomplish this was to simulate an abduction attempt by two attackers trying to get the women into a van. This is the level of stress that is missing in many women’s self defense seminars. This is the frosting on the cake. This is a way of simulating the fear and violence as closely as possible to the real thing. It was time to gear up.
It was impressive to see the women put what they learned to the test. It was especially impressive to see some of them transition from a victim mindset to a fight for your life mindset. I say some of them simply because a few of them at the seminar were long time students at Krav Maga Reborn. They already have a good grasp of engaging in the fight. They’re always impressive. The ones who were there, though, who had zero background in any kind of self defense training and were able to transform themselves into fighting in a way they could never have imagined were what really brought out the awesome.
As you can see, this wasn’t your average self defense seminar. This was getting as close as possible to a real life abduction/attack. Even though the attackers were wearing some gear, they still had the bruises to show for their trouble.
Nice work, ladies.