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.


Mir said...

Businesslady posted the following comment:

Should we dress down to stay safe ?

I am a businesswoman and always dress smartly in business skirt suits and heels I sometimes at night feel a little overdressed especially while commuting from work, and for the most part I receive admiring glances from my fellow travellers of both sexes. However a month or so back I got some very unwanted attention. Shortly after exiting the station I became aware of two youths following me, I had noticed them staring at me on the train but thought little of it but now on the street which was empty seeing them behind me unnerved me, they closed up on me, firmly clutching my handbag I quickened my pace a little but the pencil skirt and heels made running out of the question, besides I still could not be sure of their intentions. It soon became clear, the two thugs started to run up behind me, easily catching me, I screamed, one of them grabbed me from behind and clamped his hand over my mouth, the other began punching me I was terrified, they continued their brutal attack punching and kicking me to the ground, ripping of my watch and jewellery laughing as they did so I think they were on drugs. They finally left me with a parting kick to my stomach and grabbing up my handbag ran off into the night. I am convinced they assaulted me because I looked wealthy in my suit plus they knew that it would be impossible for me to get away. Are there any other members who have had a similar experience or just felt vulnerable when well dressed.

Mir said...

I'm sorry that you went through that situation.

I definitely would recommend wearing comfortable traveling shoes/clothes when commuting to and from work. I wouldn't want to attempt to defend myself in some of the heels available. The pencil skirt limits your movement also. If I was looking for a target, I would have seen your difficulty in being able to move around as a bonus. I'd recommend carrying your skirt/heels with you, and changing at work.

One main problem was the empty street that you were walking through when you exited the station. Empty areas are easy target zones.

Thinking back with hindsight: Was it the time that you had to travel that put you in that dangerous location where there were no people present? Did you notice them following you in the station before you exited? Was there more people around in that station? Did you have a cell phone with you? Perhaps if you had connected with someone and were talking, it might have deterred them from targeting.