Say whaa?

Yeah – I said it. There’s no such thing as Women’s Self Defense. There is only Self Defense.

Why would I make such a statement – someone who teaches women (and men) self defense? Some one who has advertisements that specifically target women to learn self defense? The answer is because it’s true.

What is Women’s Self Defense?

…when a woman wants to train and comes to a class, they train in those techniques exactly as men do in the same class.

Many martial arts schools offer some sort of “Women’s Self Defense”. They offer curriculum that is “specifically” tailored to female clientele. However, what differentiates the self defense skills that keep men safe from the skills to keep women safe?

Nothing. It’s advertising. I know, because I do it to. You might see some of our ads talking about Women’s Self Defense, and often I include the below video:

The female student executing the techniques is around a 100lbs, while the student attacking her is roughly 250lbs – 2.5 times her body weight.

But guess what? Those techniques you see are the same techniques that we teach men: they are the same historical techniques that were developed 500 years ago when men typically did the fighting. And when a woman wants to train and comes to a class, they train in those techniques exactly as men do in the same class. We don’t teach a “woman” version because women don’t need it – it’s inherent to the techniques.

So what’s important in Self Defense?

If a tactic or technique only works when you have the advantage, then it’s pretty worthless: if you have the advantage then you can subdue your opponent with your natural ability.

An important principle of self defense is that it can be used effectively against a stronger, larger opponent – maybe while they are better armed than the practitioner. This is because good self defense is technique driven – not muscle driven. If a tactic or technique only works when you have the advantage, then it’s pretty worthless: if you have the advantage then you can subdue your opponent with your natural advantage.

However, predators don’t target those who they perceive have the advantage, they target someone they perceive as weaker – be it physically or mentally. No one trains on how to defend themselves from a 5 year old, because they’re 5 years old – what could they possibly do to a grown adult (besides bruise a shin)?

The assumption is that we need to learn how to defend ourselves from someone who is naturally at an advantage – whether through size or carrying a weapon. Every practitioner should always assume that a technique will be used on a physically stronger opponent better equipped than the defender, which is true for both men and women. No matter how big and strong you are, there is always someone bigger and stronger, someone carrying a weapon. So what happens when they attack you? You utilize technique that neutralizes their advantage.

So if this is true why advertise “Women’s Self Defense”? This is because the self perception women have about themselves.

Changing Perception

…when women come in to our class, they discover they are just as capable as the men in class.

Women assume they are at a disadvantage – that they need something “special” since they are the “weaker sex”. This is not the case. In fact, women have certain advantages in physically fighting:

  • Women typically have a higher pain tolerance
  • Women are much more “intuitive” and better sense danger
  • Women tend to multitask better (this is biological because of how much more interconnected women’s brains are versus men)
  • Women typically carry a lower center of gravity – improving their ability to maintain balance and execute throws

There are, of course, some differences between men and women (other than the obvious equipment):

  • Men tend to have more testosterone and are therefore tend to be more aggressive
  • Men tend to have higher muscle mass (all things being equal)
  • Women are targeted for sexual assault more than men – partially due to them being perceived as “weaker”

However, these differences are NOT disadvantages – especially when it comes to learning and executing self defense. While men tend to be inherently stronger and more aggressive by nature, that doesn’t mean they have any specific advantage in executing practical self defense that is technique driven. In fact, men’s view of women can be a disadvantage if they assume they have the upper hand in a confrontation.

Ronda Rousey is a Woman

I have been practicing martial arts and self defense for over 10 years, and had the privilege of training with some of the best in the world. And I still wouldn’t want to fight Ronda Rousey, who is of course a woman. This is not despite or because she is a woman, but is because of her capability regardless of what sex she is; she is well trained, skilled, and is most likely physically stronger than I am. I would be at a disadvantage. And if she attacked me and I had to defend myself, I would rely on the techniques I have learned to hopefully come out the victor (or at least the survivor). But I much rather just stay on her good side.

…with each person who comes in and finds out this truth, that there is no weaker sex, it is a small victory and step towards a world where women are not only are treated as equals, but perceive themselves as such.

However, despite all of the above, the perception persists for women that they need something special for them. So I often will present what we do as Women’s Self Defense, since it is effective for Women. Then when women come in to our class, they discover they are just as capable as the men in class. And with each person who comes in and finds out this truth, that there is no weaker sex, it is a small victory and step towards a world where women are not only are treated as equals, but perceive themselves as such.

My goal is to teach people – men and women – how to protect themselves. I was heavily bullied as a kid ( I was pretty small and scrawny), and grew up in rough areas that were prone to violence. I have also have known 2 women in my life – one which was very close – that were brutally murdered. No human being deserves to live in fear nor suffer. Not men. Not women.

So until the day comes that women stop viewing themselves as the disadvantaged, until they discover that they are just a capable as their male counterparts, I will continue to advertise “Women’s Self Defense”.

If you’re interested, come in and discover just how capable you are.

Shidoshi Hamilton

<p>Scott Hamilton is an 8th degree black belt in the Bujinkan, and travels regularly to Japan to train. In addition to being the owner and head instructor of Todai Dojo, Scott is also the CEO of a national manufacturing company. He has also received training in other martial arts, and in-depth modern weapons training.</p>

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