Sunday, July 29, 2012

Women's Self Defense - Blogging Carnival

Why “Women’s” Self defense?

I want to focus on the concept that women may need a different kind of self defense mental training than men.  We cannot escape the fact that women usually have less physical strength as men, and considerations should be taken when thinking of the best counter to an opponent who is taller, stronger, and faster than you, but this could also apply to a shorter, less strong male. Place a well trained fighting woman against an out- of- shape man, and I think that I could safely place my bet on the lady. 

What mental issues would a “Women’s” self defense want to address?

I suggest that the key is looking at how women think, and react.  “  Historically males and females have been under different selection pressures which are reflected by biochemical and behavioural differences between the sexes," said Dr Joohyung Lee, from the Prince Henry's Institute in Melbourne. "The aggressive fight-or-flight reaction is more dominant in men, while women predominantly adopt a less aggressive tend-and-befriend response.  Dr Lee and co-author Professor Vincent Harley, propose that the Y-chromosome gene SRY reveals a genetic underpinning for this difference due to its role in controlling a group of neurotransmitters known as catecholamines.....The authors propose that SRY may prime organs in the male body to respond to stress through increased release of catecholamine and blood flow to organs, as well as promoting aggression and increased movement which drive fight-or-flight in males. In females oestrogen and the activation of internal opiates, which the body uses to control pain, may prevent aggressive responses." ( You can read more of this article here:)

What is this “Tend and befriend” response?  From what I’ve read it seems to be a inner desire to seek out supportive relationships.  In the dojo I’ve seen more than one woman react to a self defense exercise of being attacked by looking around at the people around her to see how they are reacting. Sometimes she might start smiling, or even laughing.  This is a normal animal behavior to show submission, or to show forth a non-threatening posture, and to ask for acceptance from the aggressor in the Primate world. To learn more about non-verbal submission click here.  It may be a subconscious non-verbal reaction of our primitive brain to attempt to befriend ( if possible ).

This does not mean that women cannot be as aggressive, or even more aggressive than men.  It will depend on the stimulus, and reason that the woman chooses to show aggression.  Also, a woman will tend to show the aggression in a less open and physical manner.  It has been shown that women lean towards fighting with their words, or in subtle hidden ways, more than openly with their fists... unless it is towards someone who is in a close relationship with them.  “Virtually all sociological data shows women initiate domestic violence as often as men, that women use weapons more than men, and that 38% of injured victims are men.”  When it comes to child abuse, nearly 58% of perpetrators were women, and out of that number 80% were the parents of the children.  Website

However, being aggressive, or taking the initiative to attack may cause some gender conflict in the female psyche unless viewed from a perspective that not only allows it, but encourages it.

I would suggest that a women be guided towards thinking of protecting her friends/family in a self defense situation rather than focusing on protecting herself as a source of inner strength.  This could take into advantage the natural desire of the “Tend and Befriend”.  Thoughts like “My friends/family NEED me, I am protecting those that I care for, I have to survive this moment”  may put her mind into a different status.  It allows her to tap into her emotional side. One doesn’t want to lose themselves into the emotions as a clear mind is necessary to act quickly and effectively, but finding a core “reason” within oneself for why we are choosing to do to them what they meant to do to us is extremely helpful.  We don’t want to become distracted by this inner motivation. I would offer that in our everyday average complacent society that most people ( I’d like to include men in this as they are not immune to distraction) are not living in the mental alertness necessary for self-defense. How many people walk down the street, or even drive a car occupied with their cell phones, etc, and do not pay attention to their environment?   Distracted driving has contributed to 80% of collisions.  Guess what?  Women are more likely to engage in distracted behavior then men.  They will fix their makeup, brush their hair, change songs on the MP3 players, take pictures, eat, adjust their GPS devices, text, even change clothes as they drive.  There seems to be an illusion of “safety” that gives these women the idea that everything will be o.k.   It would be best not to allow the emotions and thoughts to get between you and your goal of survival.  Instead find your core reason, and use it as an inner source of power, and don’t let distractions get in the way of self-defense.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Zumba is fun

I have had my first experience with the Zumba, and I loved it.  It is a nice combination of dance, exercise, and fun.  The music is catchy, and lively. It's just hard to frown when you are flinging your arms around, and moving to happy music like this.

Take a look:

Yes.. it's not a Martial Art.  True... but I don't mind trying other things just for the variety... It's great to see that I am able to meet the challenges of these workouts thanks to all of my Karate training.

I also enjoyed the experiences I had with Mr. Billy Blanks Tae Bo workout tapes.  He actually mixes Martial Arts movements with exercise.  This workout really gets the sweat going, and gets you breathing.

The only problem that I had was that I kept doing the punches/kicks with Karate technique which made me move a little differently sometimes.. but I just shrugged, accepted that change, and kept going. 

Next, I want to try some Pilates workouts, I've heard that they are fantastic. I found a video on youtube that I might just try:

Summer is a great time to try out new things, and stay healthy. I wish you all the best in your training.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

An Actual Karate dream

I woke up this morning from a Karate dream that has stayed with me, and I feel like it would be fun to share it with those who read my blog. I have many Karate dreams but usually they disappear as soon as I rise from my bed. This one, however, has stayed in my memory like as if I had watched a good movie.

My dream started with me dressed in my Gi/Black Belt and approaching a judging table at a Rank Test. Part of me was aware that the Sensei of this dojo was just starting out, and he had asked me to help decide if his students were at the level that they were testing for.. there was an orange belt teenager sitting at the table next to me who was given the task of assessing this group of 30 children white belts in front of us. In my dream, the Sensei had nodded to me, and walked off leaving me and the teenager in charge.

I stayed quiet, and allowed the orange belt to lead the test.. and for a dream span of time which seems long and short at the same time I watched the orange belt splutter, and stumble, and achieve nothing towards testing the white belts who stood still watching us, and waiting for instruction. He took a marker, and scratched out all of the requirements, and wrote down "not necessary" next to them. He finally just stood up, and walked away leaving the students looking shocked.

I stood up, and took over, commanding this group of white belts to go into stance, and started calling out basics for them to do.. but they didn't know any of them. They couldn't even respond to the call of "middle punch", but looked at me, and each other in confusion. It became very apparent to many of them that they didn't know what they needed in order to pass this test, and (as is the way of dreams) they suddenly disappeared until only a dozen of the testing students remained. These ones insisted that I HAD to pass them because they were testing, and therefore they deserved the next rank. I shock my head, and maintained that they need to know how to do something, and show that knowledge in order to earn the recognition. I said in a gentle way that there would be another test in three months, and that after learning what they need to know, I would be happy to test them. All of the remaining students left except for one. He chased me around as I was cleaning up the dojo of rolls of duct tape, MMA posters, rolls of toilet paper, electric toasters, and licorice. ( What strange and weird items that my dream felt was necessary for Karate testing!)

This one white belt boy followed me around grabbing the rolls of tape, and demanding that I pass him because he was helping me to clean up the dojo. I kept explaining that I appreciate his help, and that it is a good sign of responsibility, but that I cannot in good conscience call him a karate ka because he knows how to clean up, he still hasn't shown me the inner formation of Karate knowledge. There were 5 boys standing in the dark by the doorway watching our interaction. This persistent boy didn't give up, but his attitude was prideful, and challenging. He wasn't going to take "no" from me, but he was going to make me pass him just because he thought that I should. Finally, after the strange lapse time of dreams, I showed forth authority, and spoke strongly, and clearly to the boy stating that without the ability to show me respect, and to perform basics as is the level for which he is testing, he will not receive a higher rank from me, and that he can feel free to leave the dojo now.

The five boys standing in the shadow of the doorway visibly looked even more defeated by how I handled that moment. Yet, one of them detached, and approached me as I continued to clean up those rolls of tape..( In my dream it must have taken over 8 dozen boxes of duct tape in order to test a group of students.) This boy was already out of his gi, and dressed in normal clothes. He came up to me, and humility was in his face, and eyes. He asked me if there was anything that he could do in order to improve his chance of passing this week. He explained that he was confused by the terms that I was calling, but that he thinks that he knows what it is that I am asking of him in the test, and would it be possible that I might reconsider my position as his next term in school depends on how well he passes this belt rank test. The other four boys were approaching us timidly watching how I was listening intently to this one.

I recognized courage, self-control, humility, passion for the arts, and a good core in this student. Time in my dream stood still as I looked into his face, and eyes, and saw a willingness to learn, and apply himself etched there.

I stood up, and said to the boy "Show me what you know.."

"Now Sensei" he asked in surprise "Like this.. I'm not ready.." but he stopped his words in mid expression as he saw that I meant 'right now.. as is.."

He went into fudo dachi, and haltingly put forth his basic requirements.. the other boys in the back followed his guide.

I smiled, and said "Yes.. this is Karate. It isn't just knowing how to do the requirements, or giving up when the challenges appear, but it is having the heart of courage, willingness, and deep inner hope to do one's best when asked. You have earned your rank, and you have also motivated others through your example to achieve theirs. Congratulations.. you 5 boys have passed your test."

I woke up from my dream with the echoes of joy, and the image of the 5 boys jumping up and down in joy, and sending high fives to each other.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Did the New Year Achievement twice this year

For the first class of 2012, I encouraged, and participated in the New Year's Achievement with my Adult students. We did the 212 punches, 212 kicks, and 12 kata together before we continued with our basics, and sparring combinations.

The class did well, and showed much heart. It was a very positive moment for us all.

I wonder if I can store this second effort for 2013... Hmmmm.....

Saturday, January 07, 2012

2012 New Year achievement

I have succeeded in completing my "start of the year" tradition of

212 Chudan Tsuki

212 kicks

12 Saiha Kata

I was contemplating going for 21 Kata, but that number just didn't fit right with the year.

Since I had the use of a gym, I didn't get the usual challenge of my children observing my efforts. Therefore I had no distractions.. just the sound of my breathing, quiet counting, and the swishing of my gi material as I kept moving. It became almost a continual circuit of energy, each movement flowing into the other.

It is a good start...