I have seen the next stage of the revolution and it’s going to be led by awesome empowered women.
As most readers of this blog know, I’ve studied martial arts since 1979 and have a fourth degree black belt in Aikido. In recent years, I’ve done a series of talks on the non-fighting side of self defense and written about the ways women can learn to protect themselves from dangerous and troublesome men.
Fighting skills aren’t gendered; women are as capable of developing useful physical skills as men are. In most situations, there are plenty of ways to avoid or get out of trouble without a physical altercation.
I’ve been saying these things for years, but most of the time, I’ve felt like a voice crying in the wilderness. And then I stumbled across Empowerment Self Defense and women who share my ideas.
I just got back from a week-long Empowerment Self Defense teacher training camp in New York with a group of such powerful women. I was the oldest woman in the class; the youngest was 19.
Some of them were fellow martial artists, representing many different arts. Others had been teaching self defense and wanted to expand their curriculum. They came from all over the world. They came from many different backgrounds.
Some had experienced assault and abuse in their lives, while others worked in domestic violence programs. Some trained in martial arts with great passion — a couple were national champions. Others had never tried many of the physical skills before. Regardless, everyone dove in and tried the things that were new to them.
We did some challenging physical training and also worked on games and role play and, perhaps most important of all, boundary setting.
And by the way, we all broke boards with our palm heel strike. Here’s a link to a video of me doing that:
We all share some core values. Women are capable of defending themselves. We can develop skills that keep us safe, whether we’re on the street or in the office or out on a date.
None of this means that men who abuse and assault women aren’t the problem. All of us would like to see a change in the toxic male culture that lets some men get away with doing horrendous things.
We’re just not willing to wait until all men change to be safe, when women can be safer right now by learning how to take care of themselves.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll share some of the principles and other things I learned at camp.
Empowerment Self Defense has been set up as a nonprofit, ESD Global: https://www.esdglobalselfdefense.org/ It grows out of El Halev self defense program in Israel started by Yudit Sidikman, a fourth degree Judo black belt and a woman of amazing vision: https://www.en.elhalev.org/ If you’d like to support ESD and more training like the kind I did last week, here’s the GoFundMe: https://uk.gofundme.com/ptm6n-the-power-of-one