Today's subject matter is quite serious and a critical part of the martial arts conversation. Women's Self Defense-- both in why every Krav Maga studio would benefit from having these classes, and why this course should be conducted weekly.
It's worth repeating that every single woman should have some Krav Maga training in her lifetime. One, because it's effective, powerful, and the strikes make sense. Second, due to the fact that women are at an automatic disadvantage; we are targets of violence and domestic abuse more often than our male counterparts. According to the World Health Organization, 30% of women (1 in 3) will experience domestic violence or sexual violence in her lifetime. A Women's Self Defense course brings up conversations about these sort of experiences and the purpose of these attacks. IE, does your attacker want your wallet? Or do they want your body? The distinction, while both executed under the guise of violence, are psychologically very, very different.
Co-ed training is imperative; we're all there for the same reason. Once you're in that headspace, it doesn't matter who or what your partner is. You just want to train for a worthy opponent, so Krav Maga partners have to push each other. But at the end of the day, men just have a biological advantage when it comes to muscles and strengths. There are exceptions to the rules, but at the core, these are the facts. So as a woman, when you've been training and see your male partners shift when your punches tip them off their base, it makes you feel strong, confident, skilled, and powerful; you feel like a warrior. This is the respectful training environment you want. You want to give love and respect to your school's fellow students and see each other succeed on your Krav Maga journeys.
That said, there are certain experiences that are exclusive to women. Certain stories that make up life as a woman. These stories can be positive, they can be negative, they can be heartbreaking, they can be harrowing. Some of these experiences are on a biological level (human biology is funny) or on an emotional level, like reclaiming yourself, your body, your life, and your confidence after something as terrible as a rape or attack. And that's when that little nugget of time, that once per week Women's Self Defense class, becomes an import safe-place where all women training at the school, and any women in the community that come in just for that weekly training session, can feel that sense of safety, strength, and belonging.
It is traditional for martial arts studios to conduct a monthly Women's Self Defense seminar. These workshops typically run for about two hours, and while the intention of the school owners and instructors involved is good, there is a problem with this arrangement. As someone who never did anything athletic with her body until well into adulthood, I can tell you from experience that two hours once a month is not nearly enough time to develop the muscle memory and strength required to actually defend yourself in an altercation.
If I were instructing a Women's Krav Maga course that was open to the public and some of my every day female students attended the workshop, that would be one thing-- you're aware of how often they come to class, their level of knowledge, execution of the curriculum, etc. But if the monthly session consisted mostly of drop-ins and local women in the community, I wouldn't feel comfortable sending them into the world with that false sense of security. Plus, there is no guarantee that the seminar attendees even practice what they've learned in that monthly course at home. The long and short, it's irresponsible; those coming to the monthly course could get very badly hurt, or even killed.
I realize the idea of simply starting Krav Maga training might be daunting for some women. Anything extra curricular out of the home might seem like an impossible chore. Quite often, even in our modern society, women with families are often the caregivers for their home and children. Yes, even if she has a full time job of her own. And there is a good chance that an adult woman without any martial arts training may be uncomfortable (at first) about the idea of joining a co-ed class. But with a little exposure and perseverance, it becomes second nature.
For many women, there may be that initial ripple of intimidation knowing that you're going to have to hit (and get hit by) all of these men. By having a weekly Women's Wednesday Self Defense class (like the one we have one at Citadel Krav Maga), you can come and check out the class, still get that training routine established, and then segue into the co-ed mainstream class once that confidence and self assurance has time to grow. It is a secure arena that allows women to focus on training. Focus on bringing out the warrior within. Because she is there-- I promise you. And if you get scared of feel triggered by the loud, aggressive, violent environment that is Krav Maga, you clear your mind, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:
“Why am I here?”
“What am I fighting for?”
“Is it for myself, physically? Or is it for the self I know I have the power to be?”
There are other people that share what you went through, or have stories you could never imagine. What you can’t identify with or haven’t gone through, you can learn from. Often, it feels like being a woman is a culture, just like when you see someone that shares your religion or heritage you can give each other that little nod of comradery because there’s a kernel of sisterhood that ties you together that gives you commonality in a universe of variables. Which is why I have my daughter training, too.
These classes are inspiring. And they have nothing to do with women hating men-- we don't. It's about women inspiring each other, lifting each other up, and challenging each other in an environment that understands what you have gone through. It is acknowledgement that yes, women are strong and can hold their own in every day co-ed classes conducted. But that we also have enough of our own layers that once a week, we can gather together and face the reality that terrible things and unimaginable circumstances happen. Because that's what you're training for-- the worst case scenario. You have something to live for, something to fight for, something to protect. Never forget it-- you are worth so much.