Given the news headlines for the past few nauseating weeks, it doesn’t look like self-defense for women is ever going to become unnecessary. Sadly, it looks as though self-defense is the only defense some women have, and while knowing how to protect yourself is a good thing, living in a culture where violence against women is “just boys being boys” puts the responsibility for their safety squarely in the hands of women. The hypocrisy is unsettling at the very least, but learning self-defense is a smart move anyway.
Where self-defense classes are available for women, they’re a good idea, but where they’re not available, practicing with a video at home on some cushioned martial arts mats is the next best thing. If the idea is to learn to protect yourself, your training should be done in an environment that is conducive to safe practice. Martial arts mats protect joints and absorb shock, making the learning process easier. Classes taught for the purposes of self-defense will always be conducted on martial arts mats for the safety of the participants, so when you decide to practice at home, make sure you take the same precautions.
Relying on the safety of martial arts mats is much like relying on a martial arts instructor: do your homework before settling on one. Sit in on a class at the martial arts studio to see what kind of environment the instructor creates. Do the participants respect him or her? Is the atmosphere one of fear or trust? And go with your gut – if you feel confident after doing your research, you’re more likely to learn and progress. If you have any misgivings at all, move on. Women’s self-defense is something that must be learned in a safe place, and if the instructor does not communicate that, then you’re in the wrong place. Keep looking.
There are plenty of trustworthy, instructional self-defense videos available, so even if you don’t have access to a good class, you can still learn the basics of self-defense at home in your own makeshift martial arts studio (which may just be a corner of a room with a few martial arts mats thrown down). Don’t hesitate to take your safety into your own hands – who else will? -and begin to learn the confidence and skills that will make you feel a little safer. But no one is ever completely safe, even with a full set of self-defense skills in their arsenal, so remember to think smart, keep practicing, and continue to look for ways to improve your skills.