Full disclosure: I’m not sitting here writing this article from the comfort of my home-based office, sipping coffee and dreaming about my next article while I sport my rather “tacticool” 511 pants, gun vest, ninja headband and whatever else people might think armed / unarmed instructors wear. Rather, I’m sitting at my desk at my full-time job over lunch in my business casual attire, scrambling to write down my thoughts before my hour is up and hope that the finished product will be something comprehensible to you! I’m also thinking about what I have to get finished at this job before 5pm, what I’m making for dinner, if I started the dryer full of wet clothes or not, looking for the phone charger cord for my cell phone because I didn’t plug it in last night, AND trying to figure out which route home has the closest gas station because my light just came on as I was pulling into my parking spot this morning! Not to mention reviewing my traditional martial arts class notes for the week, prepping for the Julie’s Group Personal Defense Happy Hour, and working out travel plan for my own personal development class on Saturday in Kentucky.
Who cares, right? Wrong! I care. I care because I know your schedule is as crazy if not crazier than mine. All I’m trying to say is that I understand how busy everyone is. I know we all feel that if we squeeze one more planned event into our schedule we’ll literally pop. And we, as women, will put everyone and everything in front of our own needs. It’s what we do. But we are also examples for people to follow (kids, peers, etc), a fact that is rarely pointed out or acknowledged with anything more than a sheepish nod of the head or a low, “Mm-hmmm.”
So on one side we have the voices saying, “There’s no time! I’ve got to get this done, or that done before I can even think about doing anything for me.” And on the other side we hear, “But you have to put yourself first sometimes. You need downtime. You need to set an example for your children.” And maybe you have already wrestled with some of these thoughts.
There’s also the faction of women who truly don’t believe they need any personal defense training; the “It Will Never Happen To Me” Group. But I can count on all my fingers AND TOES the number of women I personally know that said those very words, BEFORE an altercation happened to them.
I’m not going to stand on a box and shout statistics to you about women and safety, I’ll just say that the world’s not getting any safer. Let’s say, for example, you ate a 1500 calorie fat-laden lunch every day, worked in a high stress environment with no anti-stress outlet and wore shoes that increased the chances of varicose veins and blood clots. Then one day you read an article that statistically proved all those things were not only bad for your health, but also shortening your lifespan. Would you modify your habits, even if it meant taking more time to pack your lunch, fitting in a workout 3x per week, or modifying your outfit for the day in order to incorporate a more practical shoe? You probably would. So, then why is it so easy to ignore statistics that prove the world is a more dangerous place today, and why do most people choose not to do anything to counter those numbers?
I have my theories. One is that people don’t like envision victimization; the whole, “If I don’t talk about it, it didn’t happen” mentality. People don’t want to hear about or dwell upon the bad things in life. Well quite frankly, neither do I. I like to think of personal defense classes as a celebration of confidence and empowerment. Will some people laugh at that statement? Maybe, but who cares. Those people don’t understand you, and don’t understand the need to explain training in a completely different way other than to shove statistics down your throat and scare you into taking a class. You didn’t take the class when it was explained like that before, and you certainly aren’t going to take that class now. But if a group of women got together and learned from another woman about how to use your body or convenient items laying around the room to kick the crap out of someone who dared to step into your space, well now, that’s another story. . . or it should be! And furthermore, my job as an instructor is to deliver the information in a manner in which the students will understand. I might have an amazing class format that would benefit everyone, but if I can’t get it filled, no one wins.
I also think there’s a perceived stigma that comes with taking personal defense classes: You must be a women’s libber, you must hate men, you must be some sort of prepper person, etc. The list goes on and on. All false (at least for me)! I just think it’s a really good idea to know how to lay someone out if the situation calls for it.
Another perception about these classes is that they’re REALLY DIFFICULT and you have to be in great physical shape to take one. FALSE. FALSE. FALSE. I’m pretty sure the not-so-nice person doesn’t care if you’re in shape, out of shape, or anything in between. The point is, you don’t know when something bad might happen to you, so you should always be prepared. I’ve had people take classes from me with broken bones, migraines, weak joints, etc. The joy of being the instructor is I get to show you how to modify everything for YOU! Stop trying to get ready to come to class, and just show up!
So pick a format that works best for your schedule. There are monthly classes / educational topics / seminars, happy hours, home safety parties and also traditional weekly classes. You can fit into a predetermined schedule, or you can set your own training time (at least with me). Just pick something and go with it. Bring your daughter, friend, mother, sister, dog (not really)! I think you’ll be surprised how fun learning personal defense can be.
Now, if I haven’t completely pissed everyone off, I’ll see you in some classes!