CUTTING THROUGH THE OPTION-OVERLOAD
There is no shortage of self-defense experts, empowerment programs and safety classes for women. How do you decide?
The National Coalition Against Sexual Assault addressed this issue and came up with some guidelines and suggestions, and we, at Strong & Safe, strive to adhere to all recommended principles.
As our teaching philosophy, we believe and affirm that:
1) People do not ask for, cause, invite or deserve to be assaulted. Women and men sometimes exercise poor judgment about safety behavior, but that does not make them responsible for the attack. Attackers are responsible for their attacks and their use of violence to overpower, control and abuse another human being.
2) Whatever a person's decision in a given self-defense situation, whatever the action he or she does or does not take, he or she is not at fault. A person's decision to survive the best way they can must be respected. Self-defense classes should not be used as judgment against a victim/survivor.
3) Good self-defense programs do not "tell" an individual what she "should" or "should not" do. A good program offers options, techniques, and a way of analyzing situations. A good program may point out what USUALLY works best in MOST situations, but each situation is unique and the final decision rests with the person actually confronted with the situation.
4) Empowerment is the goal of a good self-defense program. The individual's right to make decisions about his or her participation must be respected. Pressure should not be brought to bear in any way to get a person to participate in an activity if that person is hesitant or unwilling.
Additionally, a good self-defense course provides psychological awareness and verbal skills, not just physical training. Like any tool, the more you know about it, the more informed you are to make a decision and to use it. We focus much of our training stopping attacks BEFORE they happen. It is estimated that up to 90% of all assaults are preventable. We teach our students to increase their odds to avoid attack, but also pass along essential easy-to-use verbal and physical skills to escape if necessary. We focus on maximizing options, simple techniques and respect for people’s experiences.
While both male and female instructors have much to offer, there is an advantage for women to have a female lead instructor as a role model, having had similar experiences surviving as a woman. All-women classes tend to provide an easier atmosphere in which to discuss sensitive issues. However, there is benefit to having male partners with whom to practice. Our courses are designed and run by women. We include male instructors for practice/drill portions of our workshops, to maximize “real life” scenario responses, but feel that our shared experiences as women, and the safe environment necessary to this subject matter, makes our program structure ideal for learning and training.
A good course covers critical thinking about self-defense strategies, assertiveness, powerful communication skills, and easy-to-remember physical techniques. Self-defense is not fighting or martial arts training. It does not require years of study to perfect. At our seminars, we don’t turn out martial artists; we build knowledgeable, confident, empowered women, with a “whatever it takes” mindset and an arsenal of simple effective skills to prevent and escape violent attacks. We do not come from a single style of training or school of thought; we have trained in a number of diverse disciplines, studied a range of perspectives, and have drawn the best from each for the most comprehensive approach.
Essentially, a good course is based on intelligence and not muscle or skill. It offers tools for enabling a person to connect with her or his own strength and power. You don't have to be an athlete to learn how to defend yourself. A good program is designed to adapt to every age and ability and provide each student with the opportunity to learn. Each individual is unique and students should be able to discuss their own needs.
We never sell or push “devices”. Any device is useless to you unless you understand how to use it and have it in your hand ready to use at the time of the attempted assault. None are foolproof. While some devices have value as an added layer of protection and have helped people escape to safety, it is important to be aware of their limitations and liabilities. We educate women on the available options, without judgment, in order to make informed decisions in line with their unique experiences, values and lifestyles.
Finally, responsible self-defense training requires sensitivity to experiences and comfort levels. It is important that each student in a class is able to control his or her own participation in the class and never feel forced to participate. We respect each woman’s experiences and limitations. We believe hands-on interactive training is the best way to learn and retain information, so we provide the safest environment possible to encourage participation. But we proceed in accordance with each woman’s comfort level, and there is never forced participation.
Our mission is to provide the most effective and comprehensive empowerment training for women in the safest, most engaging and inspiring atmosphere. Our programs are designed by women, for women. In addition to providing full service empowerment workshops to the public, we have helped a range of professionals, such as realtors, community service workers, and corporate office groups, by providing tools, skills and information to overcome daily safety challenges. Bottom line: We help you and your loved ones stay safe. Contact us for upcoming session information.