Almost every time I walk into Women’s Self-Defense class, I’m dealing emotionally with whatever the day served me — usually a cocktail of fear, disappointment, maybe some grief or mental or physical pain, often a racing mind that just doesn’t want to calm down. Sometimes I don’t want to face whatever will be served up in class — but what can I say? I kind of have to be there. So unless I’m contagious or injured I show up and start preparing. I decide to set aside everything that doesn’t have to do with class for the next hour or so.
Using self-defense as a therapeutic tool is a surprising thing. You don’t expect emotional issues to come up while you’re learning to kick, punch, and do life saving techniques. But they do. It really seems inevitable. It’s hard to deny what’s happening. But if you’ve been harmed in some way, felt powerless, or been exposed to ongoing abuse, there is a very good chance you will find yourself confronted with the resulting pain and emotions.
Helping someone overcome fear so they can perform the task before them is huge. It takes small, incremental steps of desensitization to help someone over that hump sometimes. Sometimes it requires pushing them in the deep end of the pool and let them figure it out. In the case of my sister, she needed the slower method and a lot of convincing. We started out with just figuring out how to get up and down off the floor. Then we moved to sitting on her knees and backside repeating the falling motion over and over. She needed to overcome that fear next. This went part went on for some months.
Self-defense training is very tough. But I believe it’s also very necessary. We tend to think nothing bad will never happen to us — until it does. Doing the necessary things to train is part of protecting oneself. For me, seeing my friend as my opponent or foe, is part of the discomfort of protecting myself. If I’m ever in a dangerous situation with someone trying to hurt me, I need to know what to do. That person would not be my friend. Their motivation would be to hurt me or worse.
What’s a stubborn, prideful girl to do? Well first things first. Do I really want to learn this stuff? Yes. Am I willing to be a student? Yes. What does it mean to be a student?