Empowerment Self Defense

Just after breaking boards

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:

Nancy Jane breaking a board

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



Empowerment Self Defense — 6 Comments

  1. Hi Nancy,

    What a beautiful read. You just took me back. Miss you and everyone there. My selfishness of wanting to be in another country and away from my daily routine needs to be reigned in. The mission is now to teach ESD to our own community. I have come away with so much to process and implement. At times I get a bit overwhelmed and then I take a deep breath and tell myself, “one thing at a time”. I feel we all have a purpose to fulfil with different flavours. What Yudit and ESD gave me is a gift that’s beyond measurable. You can’t put a price on the connections made and the skills learnt. I’m so proud to have met you. Keep writing. It reminds us to stay aligned to our true purpose. Big hugs from Australia…. Antonella x

    • Thanks so much, Antonella. There is so much for me to process as well, which is why I have to write about it all. Writing is how I figure out what I learned.

      I miss everyone so much. We needed at least a month together, not just a week! I’m glad to be back to my own routine, but now the challenge is how to add ESD work into it instead of just slipping back into the ordinary stuff.

  2. Just want to give a shout-out to Jill Baker Shames, Chana Weinberger and Adi Vimer who were undeniably the forces with which we created El HaLev. And infinitely grateful to all of the women who have come before and shared their knowledge and practices with generous org and a true love for humanity.

  3. I am so glad you went, Nancy! And, it’s marvelous to hear about your experience. I look forward to reading more. It’s nice to be present at the revolution.