Saturday, August 8, 2009

Self-Defense....It's Personal

A few weeks ago, I wrote about self-defense topics. My husband and I teach self-defense as part of the dojo curriculum, women's self-defense sessions, organizations (park rangers) and private lessons. Before we begin the sessions, we always ask the students what techniques or situations to cover. The answer to this question gives us insight into their goals for the lesson.

In our experience, the most common response to this question attack or grab from behind. Here are a few of the other requests:

Being pulled into a car
Pinned to the ground - face up and face down
Choked on the ground
Pinned against a wall - hands
Pinned against a wall - choke
One arm choke from behind
How to deal with an attack when your baby/child is with you
Against a knife - multiple scenarios
Being jumped on while sleeping
From heat crazed dogs (park ranger request)
How do you deal with out of control juveniles (park ranger request)
Hair pull
An attacker who dives at your legs to pull you down
Multiple attackers

My husband worked with a local women's crisis prevention organization and was called when women needed transportation to the shelter. He has been attacked with a baseball bat, a wash pole, a broken bottle, a vinyl coated metal wash line and even a Cadillac.

Self-defense is different for each one of us. It depends on our goals and perceptions - to get away, to control, to end the conflict. The techniques and capabilities vary by body type - a person 5' 2" and 110 lbs may use different self-defense than a person 6' and 200 lbs. It depends on personal strengths and weaknesses - I would not use techniques which require shoulder strength when my arms are above shoulder height due to prior shoulder dislocations. It depends on preferences - what techniques are you comfortable with and which ones do you remember.

We planned for the private lessons, but ultimately the student requested the topics. It was our job to present multiple functional techniques. The student would practice. Some techniques worked smoothly and quickly while others were less comfortable. If a technique worked well for a particular student, we practiced the technique and examined variations. If a technique did not work well for a particular student, we dropped it and moved on to the next one. We make sure to discuss the basic self-defense principles of awareness and prevention. It is important to remember that a technique that works well for us may not be the best one for the student. We must offer options.

Our goal in teaching private self-defense lessons is have the student leave class with a group a techniques. The techniques should be easy to remember and coincide with the student's strengths, goals and body type. We hope make the student aware of the dynamics of a conflict from the removal of danger.


Anonymous said...

I just read it. This is a great post with many important information about self-defense situations and self-defense teaching. Thank you so much writing those useful informations.

Michele said...

Sensei: Thank you for your kind words.

Sue C said...

A great post Michele. I like the way you assess each student's needs individually and tailor the programme to them. I read this somewhere ..."do not show your students what you can do but show them what they can do". Sounds like you do this already.

The item in your list..'being jumped on while sleeping' reminded me of funny incident that happened to me a few weeks ago. My husband and I were asleep in bed when he started dreaming that he was hitting someone (not me!). However, his arm shot out towards me as he was dreaming but in my sleep I seemed to sense it and my arm shot upwards to block it! He was very impressed (and relieved).

Michele said...

Hi Sue: Thanks. Nice block by the way! I am impressed.