Defending Yourself

I have been a karate practitioner for 28 years. Growing up, I was not the fighting type; I was more likely to be afraid of my own shadow. When I entered my first karate tournament as a novice, I was petrified during my first match—and I wasn’t a little kid, by then I was a grown man in my early thirties!

Over the years that changed as I learned the art and continued to gain confidence.  I had the good fortune to learn from an orthodox Japanese instructor that believed in teaching karate as a fighting art. He meant business and it was hard, but we learned. Bruises and lumps were part of the learning experience, and once this included me getting a right hook to the face, that resulted in three stitches & a headache for several days after, possibly from a mild concussion.

My instructor was about 5 feet tall, 130 pounds and was tough as nails.  These fights continued to be an incredible learning experience and I figured if I could survive against someone like him, then I could defend myself against just about anyone. 

Unexpectedly, this mind set was put to the test a few years ago when I witnessed a group of teenagers chasing down another on my street.  They caught up to him, pushed him to the ground and began repeatedly kicking him.  I went over to rescue the victim and was immediately surrounded and threatened. One member of the group wanted to kick around the “old man’s backside “(I was 58 yrs. old at the time).  I approached him and stood a couple of inches from his face and said:  “Ok son, you get the first punch and you better hope and pray I go down.”  At this time, I knew that if he tried to assault me that I would retaliate.    Fortunately for them and me, he backed off and left with the others and yelled from a safe distance that he would still kick my backside.

I never would have dared to respond this way ten or twenty years ago. It took years for my mindset to change, but the consistent work paid off as this response was automatic for me.  A short self-defense course is not enough to mentally prepare someone to effectively respond to this type of situation.

Most people don’t grow up in a rough and tumble environment and don’t see a need to learn how to defend themselves.  However, learning how to respond to violence is a crucial skill that everyone should learn, including women, given that women are ten times more likely to be victim of sexual assault than men. 

It is unfortunate that we continue to live in a society in which women have to be concerned for their safety and that the numbers of domestic assaults increase each year.  Until this changes, learning self-defence, can be the best defence. 

 “Teaching women self-defence still the best way to reduce sexual assaults: study” (Globe & Mail-2015)

In 2015, the Globe & Mail published this article  about a  a study that discusses various types of self defence such as prevention, awareness & physically defending oneself from an attack.  These types of defences were shown to reduce sexual violence.

Quotes from the article:

“The discomfiting part: Potential victims are still shouldering the burden for their own safety.”

“There are no quick fixes,” says lead author Charlene Senn, a women’s studies professor at the University of Windsor. “We need multiple strategies. But we now know that giving women the right skills, and building the confidence that they can use them, does decrease their experience with sexual violence. This is our best short-term strategy while we wait for cultural change.”

I have met many female karate practitioners that have been able to change their mindset and felt confident that they could defend themselves.  Over time they became more than capable of rising to a challenge and I have no doubt that if they ever had to defend themselves, they would be ready, willing and able to do so.

At Eastern Karate, one learns the various techniques of Karate so eventually you can defend yourself. At the same time, your mindset changes so you will defend yourself.