You know the one. The one that encompasses a mix of disgust and frustration, with a slight hint of “when will this bullshit end?” That is the sigh that preceded my question to Sifu Kyle, of “Why do they do this?”
“Who? Does what?” He replied
I turned the computer screen to give him the visual, as I began my rant……….
“Martial artists promoting Women’s ‘self-defense’”
Add a tone of snarky sarcasm to the words self-defense and you have the stage set for what turns into a conversation that will change your experience of how you see women’s self-defense workshops forever.
As I look at the image of a hooded man standing behind a woman with his hand over her mouth, my gut cringes, my heart hurts, and my blood boils. This image says much more than its distasteful promotion suggests. In its shadowy overcast, it truly captures the essence of how women become victims.
Eyebrow raised, Sifu curiously says, “Go on…..”
Women become victims because someone exploited and overpowered their vulnerability. Which is exactly what the hooded man and other similar promos are doing.
It’s a fundamental sales tactic; women experience a sense of fear when they see the image of the hooded man and hand over their money. They (irresponsible martial artists) used (exploited) fear (vulnerability) to get what they wanted (business). Let that sink in!
Why would anyone give their money to someone who deliberately used a tactic to make them afraid?
I know. At this point, you ladies might be thinking…”Wait a minute, wait a minute! I am getting a service in return for my money, so that makes it different, right?”
No! You are not getting a service, you are getting a dis-service, hence the snarky sarcasm at the beginning of this conversation.
Let me give you three (of many) reasons why the hooded man (and those that team up with him for promotional opportunity) needs his ass kicked.
1. Martial Arts Mastery is a Lifelong Pursuit
First of all, there is more to self defense than a workshop and a whistle. When you see these high-speed women doing a promo for women’s self-defense, you are seeing an athlete promote an amazing and impressive skillset, inviting a sense of female bad-assery, which you naturally want (marketing tactic). However, let’s be real…they didn’t get that skillset in some weekend workshop that the hooded man is trying to lure you to pay for. They developed that art and skill through hundreds of hours of training. It is a sport, an art, which is not the same as women’s self-defense.
While their skills may be a great resource in a situation where they meet the hooded man, it’s not really practical to expect or promote that skill set for those that aren’t yet at that physical level.
2. Simple, Effective Tools are Best
Secondly, many of the techniques that are taught in these workshops are not practical or realistic for the non-athlete. If the hooded man shows up, I can’t ask him to wait until I train some complex body contorting, cardio-demanding, coordination-required technique a little while longer, so I can become proficient at taking him out.
What women need is a few practical and effective tools that can be used to create space, get away, and go home safe. Save the bad-ass moves and stunts for when you are practicing the moves with a non-violent, well-intended training partner in a controlled environment. Women need something they can be confident that their body will do and that their brain will remember when it is flooded with hormones produced by fear.
And speaking of the brain, let’s not forget there is a psychological aspect to the predator-victim experience, which brings me to my last point.
3. An Ounce of Prevention Goes a Long Way
Your best defense against a predator is prevention. Prevention means using your ability to access your brain and outsmart them. Which is NOT what is being taught in workshops promoted with fear tactics. The psychological component to a predator is relatively predictable, so are your abilities to react. If you know these tactics combined with practical and effective physical techniques, you become empowered to handle a situation, before, during and after. Yes, there is an ‘after’ regardless of what happens.
Why are women not being taught how to become empowered in a realistic way that includes every facet of a boundary violating situation?
As soon as the question flew out of my mouth, we locked eyes and silence fell….
You know the kind. Silence that validates something shifted, silence that justifies a new paradigm has emerged, a silence between an expert martial artist and a passionate licensed mental health professional that can quiet the gut cringing and blood boiling that all women experience when faced with fear.
We look forward to sharing with you what emerged in the silence at our empowering and fun Women’s self-defense workshop….whistles and hooded man not included.
Reserve your spot at our next Women’s Self Defense Workshop
(SOLD OUT) May 12, 2018 – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/womens-self-defense-workshop-tickets-44466112339
Terri Talley is a licensed mental health provider and women’s advocate. She has extensive training and certifications in trauma, crisis, somatic therapies, attachment issues, neuro/biofeedback, sexual assault, mood disorders, dream work and dissociative disorders. Contact her through her webiste at www.imh.solutions