Self-defense builds physical and mental strength

Jennifer Wong (right) practices side kicks with other students in her self defense class. Being able to defend yourself helps you feel safe and confident. This strength is not used to harm others, but only to protect yourself. (Bob Varner)

Jennifer Wong (right) practices side kicks with other students in her self defense class. Being able to defend yourself helps you feel safe and confident. This strength is not used to harm others, but only to protect yourself. (Bob Varner)

Eight years ago, Libby was raped.

After the horrible assault, she felt a part of her was silenced and had fallen asleep. After five weeks of learning self defense at a non-profit organization known as Bay Area Impact, she felt alive once more. She now feels the sad, lost 15-year-old girl is finally at peace. Libby who is now in her 20s shared her story with Bay Area Impact.

Many women are losing their self-empowerment for several reasons, whether it was a sexual assault or being taunted as a child. Ususally, when someone suffers a traumatic experience, they mentally relive the moment over and over again.

Learning self defense is one effective way for many to regain their power. By replacing negative images with positive ones, you can bring back control in your life. Martial arts are one way to accomplish this, as they help women learn self defense and discipline.

“Doing something that gives you a sense of control over your body gives you a sense of mastery and skill, helps you to bring those things back,” said Eric Larson, a counselor at Skyline, who is also a certified black belt.

Some women who have not been assaulted or taunted learn self defense simply to empower themselves. They learn self defense to protect themselves from something that could happen.

“I feel more safe when I know what I’m doing,” said Jennifer Wong, a karate student at Skyline. Wong has never been assaulted, but she feels it is best to learn the art to gain the strength to protect herself.

At Skyline, Larson is the instructor for the Shotokan karate class. He teaches students the art of fighting and self defense, and he believes self defense, other than using it for protection, is a path of discipline and self-empowerment.

“The other component, aside from having to use it on the street, is knowledge of your body, confidence that you can do things well, mastery of discipline and art.” Larson said. “There’s a lot of beauty in martial arts and there is a lot of sense of satisfaction in being able to perform the techniques, seeing yourself get stronger, seeing yourself get into better shape, and seeing yourself master difficult techniques.”

Self defense gives women strength and confidence. By learning the art, women can push their boundaries to be better than they ever they thought they could be. Pushing those boundaries will certainly empower them.

“I am not afraid of anything,” Megan Young, a karate student said. “I don’t care how big the person is.”

Being involved in martial arts has disciplined her into being a better person. She feels empowered by feeling strong. By knowing the art, Young certainly feels confident she can defend herself. She feels it is good she doesn’t fear anything anymore. She certainly believes every woman should learn self defense.

“What happens when you don’t know how to defend yourself? You get beat up and you get raped” she said.

Young thinks this happens because women don’t know how to fight or defend themselves. By learning how to fight women have a better chance of getting out without getting hurt.

“Martial arts is the best fighting technique you can do,” she said. “It’s like nothing can beat it.”

Joseph D., who chose not to reveal his last name, is also a karate student at Skyline. He believes every woman should take martial arts to learn self defense because it can make them a stronger person. Martial arts can empower anyone, he says. Joseph has met a lot of powerful women in martial arts and truly believes it can empower them.

“Martial arts can boost your confidence; you can learn a lot of self defense techniques, maneuvers and strikes you can use in those positions where you can survive.”

Overall, women who take self defense classes may not actually be able to defend themselves right away but they begin to learn how. They learn discipline, self defense techniques and confidence. If confidence can empower anyone, it can certainly empower women. Just learning the basics of fighting can give you inner strength, along with outer strength, to prove yourself worthy. It can bring inner peace to those who have none. Knowing how to protect yourself gives you a boost that can empower you, and this boost can empower women in the most amazing ways.

Common Sense Self-Defense for Women(Excerpted from an article by a Florida Corrections official)

The most common mistakes women make that could result in them getting kidnapped, attacked and/or raped:

1. Getting into an attacker’s car when he orders you to get into his vehicle. Instead, you should not comply and run away screaming. It is much more likely that he will just move on to an easier target.2. Pulling over when a male driver pretends something is wrong by pointing at your car.Instead, drive to the nearest well-lit and populated gas station and look the car over yourself.3. Not locking your doors while driving.Always lock your doors.4. Opening your front door when you have not positively identified who is there.If you don’t have a peep hole, get one. Don’t let the attacker get into your home, make sure you know who the person is before opening the door.5. Not being alert in parking lots.Be aware of your surroundings and always keep your head up. Always check your car before entering.6. Trusting a clean cut, honest looking stranger.A sex offender can be anyone. Very few look dangerous.