Here are some scary stats on sexual assault and harassment – Australia has one of the highest rates of reported sexual assault in the world, at almost 92 people per 100,000 of the population, according to the United Nations. Another survey has quoted the Australian rate at more than double the global average. Sexual harassment at work, uni and on the street has also become “normalised”. Even scarier are the responses and victim-blaming that often occurs when these crimes are reported.
One common response is “why don’t they learn to defend themselves?”, as if the onus is on the victim to not be subject to these crimes! However, one problem I have with traditional self-defence is that they are generally short-term courses that only address a few situations, or provide a limited toolset of skills, or dangerously could give a false sense of security and confidence. I had a quick look online and there are a lot of 1-3 hour workshops that provide a great introduction to self-defence concepts. Much of what is covered includes – Awareness and Threat Analysis, De-escalation tactics, Striking Techniques, and Escapes.
Much of What Passes for Self-defense Is Victim-Blaming
It makes sense that some people think self-defense is victim-blaming because a lot of what’s called “self-defense” is victim–blaming.
The people who say they are teaching women self-defense, but really are just telling them a whole lot of ways that they should limit their lives, are reinforcing victim-blaming and rape culture.
Think of those useless and alarmist tip lists: “Don’t leave your drink unsupervised, don’t park next to a van, don’t wear a short skirt,” and the amazing and impossible “be aware of everything around you all the time.” (http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/07/self-defense-blame-victims/)
It also ignores the reality that most assaults and harassment involves someone known to the victim, not a stranger in a dark alley.
On the other end of the spectrum is a new wave of what is being called Empowerment Self-Defence. This approach looks at Self-defence training as not just giving someone the tools, but also the confidence and ability as well.
How Empowerment Self-Defence Can Help
By providing skills – rather than tyrannical lists of things to do and not do – empowerment self-defence can help reduce the risks of being assaulted and increase self-confidence.
Self-defence training may increase assertiveness, sense of control, belief in your own abilities, risk-avoidance, confidence, and self-esteem. It also may also lower anxiety and fear.
Does this mean that if you use everything you learned that it will guarantee you won’t be assaulted? Unfortunately not.
Why? Because the only person responsible for an attack is the attacker.
But in teaching how to assert yourself in everyday situations and feeling better prepared to handle a dangerous situation, empowerment self-defense can still change your life.
Empowerment self-defense also helps survivors (remember, that’s at least half of us) recover from trauma in ways talk therapy can’t. Trauma is stored in the body, and there’s nothing like feeling your power, and yelling really loud, to let that stuff out.
Students say that regardless of whether or not they’ve ever had to “use it,” empowerment self-defense transformed their lives in many ways. They’re more confident, more assertive, less fearful – to name just a few. (http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/07/self-defense-blame-victims/)
What Velocity Fitness is doing – We are launching a new project called VELOCITY EMPOWERMENT. What this involves is taking the health and fitness aspects of boxing, kickboxing, taekwondo and hapkido, and putting together a 4-week recurring program to cover the striking, blocking, and escapes that you can use in a self-defence situation. More importantly, you are invited to return each month to train and practice these actions, and this is where the real magic begins. The body is a wonderful and powerful thing, and is capable of many unexpected feats that seem impossible.
Let’s use the analogy of learning to drive – when you first get your L’s and trying to get your hours logged, it’s one of the most stressful experiences you can have! So many things to remember, so many knobs and dials, eyes must be everywhere, and hands are doing two things at once, and then there’s the traffic and unpredictability of other drivers! Then after a few years of driving, especially back and forth on familiar roads, it becomes second nature. Your body is so used to it, that it becomes subconscious and there are times that you are just on auto-pilot and next thing you know, you’re parked in your driveway!
It’s the same with any kind of exercise or movement, and in self-defence it becomes a crucial aspect of the training. By returning each month to train and reinforce techniques and actions you learn, you move the actions from the conscious mind, and make the reactions from your subconscious mind. The result will be a great workout, as you build a body capable of fast and strong actions along with the conditioning of training boxing, kickboxing and Taekwondo, and feeling confident and empowered as you see and feel the results of what you can achieve!
First 4 Fridays of each month
5.45-6.45pm Lorna Jane, World Square
$80 per month