Interview #2: J. Kaikan Boyd – On Self-defense training for women

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Question #1. As someone who teaches self-defense to women, what do you think is the most important concept/principle your students need to know?

Self defence and self awareness is MY right and responsibility.

I am my own first line of defence. I’m not sure how and when we gave men that responsibility, or if we did at all, but that doesn’t work for me. We have a choice. I feel much safer knowing that self protection is available to all people in my community. I will not wait for the police or others to protect me or for the world to operate according to my own ideals.

I am responsible for how I conduct myself and my behaviour. Many women are likely to get into situations that may lead to violence simply because they were unaware of how their behaviour & conduct led them there. One of my biggest concerns is not taking responsibility for what we might have control over, such as our own behaviour. Either it be being passive, in denial, a rescuer or aggressive and expecting to be let off the hook, I think that hostility, verbal and emotional violence is everyone’s problem and responsibility.

No move or system is guaranteed. In my opinion, it’s more important to meet a person’s needs and find the most natural way possible to enhance their natural defences, than to sell your products and services. While I appreciate the importance of being competitive in business, it may be wise to refer some people to a different teacher or school if you are not a match. Take the time to find out and trust the process. I prefer that model with the local schools than doing dirty business. We often even connect through tournaments and social activities to discuss our experience. We all have our niche, and we benefit from focusing on our strengths and maybe leave the rest to others.

Self defence is much more than a collection of  techniques! There is a whole world around the actual use of force, and very little time is spent talking about it in most classes. Prevention, de-escalation, psychology of violence and law, are topics that have been covered, discussed and written about at length by many experts who have put their lives on the line and have a pretty clear idea and excellent insight for us to learn from. I highly benefit from being aware about things I may not understand, such as criminal behaviour. It gives me a better sense of what I need to do in order to be safer in this world.

Focusing on the physical techniques is not serving anyone in the long run, including us as instructors. Most of us know this, but our relationship with violence is so broken that we prefer to remain in denial and avoid reality altogether.

“It is better to avoid than to run; better to run than to de-escalate; better to de-escalate than to fight; better to fight than to die.” – Rory Miller, Meditations on Violence. Unfortunately, a lot of Martial Arts instructors and Self Defence instructors skip through the first 3 stages of avoidance, escape and de-escalation.

Which is shame because women are generally more receptive to prevention and avoidance methods than fighting. Popular action movies can be inspiring, but the general message can be misleading in conveying how to avoid conflict. What actual training for self defence is and how to maximize our chances for survival is not that cool looking, but I would rather be alive and out of prison. My role as a teacher is to promote SAFETY, not to look cool. In general, women will be grateful if you provide relevant information as well as physical training. Spend time on the effects of fear, how different it is to face an attacker who has intent to cause injury or death and has little or no regard for life. It might become quite obvious to your students in reaction drills, and you will get better focus and attention after they grasp the dangers and consequences of reality.

 
Question #2. What do you think is the worst or most ineffective physical technique and/or piece of advice that is popularly taught to women?

Some men advocate and advise against women only classes. They opine that unisex classes are useless because it only provides a very narrow perspective of reality, and experience in self defence. I can totally understand the concern people may have about the possibility of undermining a man’s strength and uneffectively preparing defending against all probabilities. I interpret that as a responsible and caring concern actually. The truth is that many women will not attend classes BECAUSE men are in them. For some reason or another, women are often self conscious and afraid around others, specifically around men. Competition and EGO are usually a big problem actually. I would encourage everyone to keep an open mind, and trust that instructors are aware of reality. I provide women with as much variety based on my own personal experience training with men and women of all sizes, strength and backgrounds. I have no doubt that women who fear men have a good idea of what they are up against. I know I do!

Why some men assume they know better baffles me…

As far as technique is concerned, the most popular advice in the industry would be to encourage punching to beginners. It’s not a natural movement. I see atrocious form everywhere, which can lead to serious injury. Training in systems like American Kenpo and Krav Maga will expand your skillset, address appropriate form, state of mind for survival, and give you variety for different reality based scenarios in a brutal attack , but in sports like Muay Thai and MMA, the emphasis is on fighting, not on avoidance strategies.

A male attacker may or may not be affected by your strikes, you will need to inflict some serious damage and keep your balance so you avoid going on the ground. That’s if you succeed in the first place. Chances are you will be hit if you don’t have much experience or neglect footwork. Kickboxing for fitness is on the rise, and I think that assuming or promoting it as a primary self defence is doing a huge disservice to women. Open hand strikes and other natural weapons are omitted in this sport and are really effective in defending against an aggressor. The whole point is that kickboxing revolves around fighting in a ring with one opponent of the same gender, same weight, without intent to kill wearing big fat gloves. It’s often the same idea with grappling. There is a referee and your coach looking out for your safety, some rules to keep it fair and clean and a time limit! At best if you ever compete, you might know a bit more than the average girl what a punch feels like and how difficult it is to execute your original plan, but on the street, there are no rules. I find that sometimes training in fighting arts encourage feistiness and might give you an exaggerated sense of safety that will lead you to trouble.

 

Question #3. When it comes to self-defense instruction for women, what do you think self-defense instructors, particularly men, need to know?

Self defence helps us with many different aspects of  life, including in primary relationships. Developing a program that is relevant to real life experience is crucial. The key for me is to get to know people on an individual basis and see if I have the whole picture. That way I eliminate assumptions and generalizations. Making a connection is a beautiful place to establish trust and address individual needs. Sometimes a woman needs support in leaving her partner, so avoiding being hit might not be where I will start my journey with her. She might need help with basic skills such as financial planning, connecting with her community, find food and shelter, maybe support with childcare etc. I’ve even taken the time to create a document for a few of them, I call it an INDIVIDUAL RELEASE PLAN. It is meant to outline the steps to freedom and gather resources for her to become more self sufficient, and eventually exit her abusive situation.

If a woman has had experience with unhealthy relationships, her idea of power and authority might be distorted and she won’t hear you. Even experts are challenged in communicating their enthusiasm and concerns to women when it comes to self defence. Some things seem quite obvious, yet we might fail to convey our clarity if our delivery lacks sensitivity and resonance. If a woman is not at peace, what we say might challenge and trigger her. Being right is irrelevant.

My personal experience is that entering the world of martial arts has given me a voice, and the ability to be more at ease in situations where I was previously fearful. I was very shy and quiet growing up, speaking up was highly discouraged and my family history is very complicated and messed up. As a teenager I was became filled with rage from emotional, physical abuse and neglect. I joined the military to escape my home town, but still my life was very chaotic. I found positive mentors, and after starting my own family, I enrolled my son in a dojo as a mature single parent because I wanted a community of responsible male role models for him. I only began training Kenpo later on when he quit. I took over his membership and thought immediately it would be beneficial in order to be respected when he grew taller and older.

Dictatorship did not work in my caregivers favour. It created a seed of violence in me. I wanted to break that cycle. I also discovered how wonderful training was for my mental health. I see many people struggling, we seem to be very challenged in admitting what’s going on within ourselves. Men express anger more freely than women, and I think a physical outlet like this really helps managing their emotions. I think that the reason why women are so unpredictable when angry, is because we don’t express it consciously. Rage is not something we honour and respect within ourselves. It might explain why we are uneasy with yours…

Many women’s priorities are focused on others. We tend to encourage our children to train, because we want them to be safe and have good values. Often we see positive results when boys and girls start a martial arts practice and we hope they will be more manageable and perhaps find discipline. It’s a bonus when they are excited and experience positive emotions from achievements in class. We love great leadership, but we seem to forget that it starts with us at home, not at the dojo or training self defence. We could learn a thing or two about self care from men and not just focus on getting thin and feeling relaxed, although, this is the best outlet I have ever found to achieve both those things without it being my primary goals!

While expertise is a bonus in a good instructor, we tend to value emotional connection the most. Learning effective communication skills can increase your chances of success, including in conflict management. Most men in my experience, spend very little time in teaching violence prevention and de-escalation. Women like to think they are good communicators, but if that were true, the world would be a much different place.  The more separation we experience, the less we can relate to how you can be part of the solution. Women usually don’t care to become violence experts, but they will welcome the idea of conflict management. If we are clear about the source of violence and how to prevent or manage its manifestation, it might be easier to take responsibility.

I think we need to make it very clear to women that men can be there for support, but ultimately, we should rely on ourselves. That is valuable advice on many levels. Helping women to empower themselves starts with self reliance and possibly in their family of origin. I teach this to parents and children, my own and others. Reality is that we benefit from being capable to handle our own, and connect with our community in being whole beings of service, not by being a burden and emotional cripples. It’s one thing to find relief in partnership and in numbers, but living with fear and being co-dependant is quite debilitating and is somewhat inconsiderate to others you leave in charge of your safety. This applies to both men and women in completing their maturing process as independent adults.

It would be more beneficial to slow down and create a connection with students, than to bulldoze through the curriculum. Most of us don’t want to commit to a lifelong practice, so we’ll take shortcuts.  We hope our protective instincts will take over when needed, failing to see the bigger picture. We want quick and effective techniques to get out of bad situations, and are oblivious to the benefits of regular conditioning and pressure testing under stress. Take the time to share your experience, people who are interested will be your best students.

 
Question #4. What are major challenges of teaching women self defence?

In my experience, the challenges are different for everyone. I can’t speak for all instructors.

The biggest challenge for me, is getting women on the mats to begin with. Women tend to find a lot of excuses to avoid training. Sometimes we lack confidence, we believe we’re not fit enough to follow the group, or we’re afraid to hurt others at the beginning. Also, being attacked may cause different reactions in people, including not wanting to revisit the feelings, or promoting growth. It can be very tricky to deal with people who are afraid. But very often, we’re simply not interested in the topic until it’s too late. I know that sounds clichéd but it’s an awful truth.

Many women operate under the idea that they are like mama bears with superhuman strength, and that when shit hits the fan, they’ll be just fine. That in itself undermines reality and the consequences of post traumatic stress. Also, the whole promotion of self defence through social media and general advice may seem sufficient. It’s up to us to do our best to communicate that it doesn’t guarantee survival. Hopefully, if we keep finding creative ways to promote self defence classes, more people will get the message.

On the opposite spectrum, some women think they don’t stand a chance due to their fear and experience, and will sink into avoidance and denial. I grew up with such a woman and I tell you, it’s quite exhausting. I understand that fear can be highly paralysing, and as an adventurous female, I suffered greatly by butting heads with her for the right to have some freedom. She made men the problem and taught me that they were not to be trusted. Like many women I know, she seeked protection in attracting men who were abusive which only made the problem worse for her and me.

After a lifetime of oppression, women’s power might cause turbulence. Beginning self defence training with a history of abuse and violence might lead to some problems. I’ll have to remind some women to be mindful of their power in and out of classes. It’s easy to be excited when we tap into our power, and there is a risk in abusing it. We need to be accountable. It’s a fine balance, and a lot of men think we just love going all out all the time, which is not the case in my experience. We just don’t get that we can hurt you, especially if they’re not providing honest feedback. There’s a certain joy in discovering our strength, and as much as we should encourage ferociousness under attack. I think it’s also our responsibility to be honest.

Another overlooked challenge, is that women have the propensity to engage in negative self talk. Being highly critical will make it difficult to learn and be successful. Positive encouragement is always a good practice and a way to build a more positive self concept. However, be aware of projection! It’s flattering to be liked, but sexual tension can be a big problem with instructors and students. Mindfulness and responsible leadership is crucial! We need to put protocols in place that protect everyone from misunderstandings and abuse of power. That goes for men and women. Sexual harassment is a delicate issue everywhere, and might be the primary reason why a student came to train self defence in the first place. It’s often why women leave and never become instructors themselves.

I love traditional styles because it offers structure, rules, guidelines and standards. However, some women can rebel against it when it’s enforced by men. For example, a woman might not do well with the tone some men have in speaking firmly and directly. It may also be over simple issues like refusing to wear a uniform, or belt because it isn’t flattering or you are challenging her freedom. Implementing rules needs to be done with respect on both sides. Ridgid leadership can lead to conflict, and drop in female membership, but so can free for all. It works best if the rules are enforced by the head instructor and modeled by senior students from the beginning.

Keeping women motivated is another challenge. Practicing mindfulness and empathy is useful in order to be supportive. What inspires one person might not work for another. I saw that very clearly when it came time to compete in kickboxing. Nothing like a 25 year old instructor telling you you’re a wuss for not keeping up while you’re dying inside and feeling embarrassed. We want nothing more than to keep up. Women will often remain quiet and leave as oppose to share their concerns. A common problem is high impact exercises for instance. It’s painful for women who have given birth, have larger breasts and are older. They might not tell you, or want to be singled out in class. They also might think it’s disrespectful to complain.

Training is not always fun for me, even as a passionate learner. It’s particularly difficult if I have cronic pain and injuries. I’ve had to be very creative and patient to make it enjoyable for women and children, the reality is that danger is present regardless of our size, gender, fitness level, physical health and state of mind. We need to work around all of that. The best advice I’ve had was to listen to my body. There’s a lot to say in just showing up, even if it’s to observe a class. There is a lot of value there as well. Better that than not go at all sometimes. Most guys I know don’t need to be pushed too hard to go train, it’s the way they nurture themselves !!

I would rather do dishes than sparr, just saying.

 

Question #5. What steps can Self-Defense Instructors take to make them more effective in teaching women?

Conduct an anonymous SURVEY if you want honest feedback! If you are serious about increasing the effectiveness of your services, you might want to start by asking questions and find out what people need. It’s part of creating a good business plan. We may benefit in asking what people want, and filling that need. In general, if you ask women for their opinion, they will give you feedback as long as it is safe to do so.

Some examples of questions I have asked: :

  1. Do you feel safe where you live?
  2. What steps have you taken to increase your safety?
  3. Have you ever taken up martial arts or attended self defence classes?
  4. Was it useful?
  5. What do you think is most important, prevention or learning techniques to defend yourself?
  6. Would you rather a male or a female instructor?
  7. Would you rather attend a women only class, or mixed?
  8. How much are you willing to pay for a group lesson of 2 hours?
  9. How much are you willing to pay for a private lesson?
  10. Would you attend a free information to learn about our services?

Clean clean clean! Hire someone to do it for you or do a trade for lessons, but whatever you do, apply yourself! The first thing women seem to notice is how clean your space is. They would rather smell Mr. Clean than Mr. Sweaty… Make sure your personal hygiene is high and all participants. Make a point to have presentable clothing, I’ve seen my share of holes in t-shirts and pants or gis. It just makes you appear negligent and that you are not successful or caring towards yourself. It’s especially gross when people smoke. Keep the place well ventilated and clean, focus on floors, mirrors and bathrooms. Be mindful of leaving your belongings everywhere. Smelly Jockstraps are not as sexy as you think!

Offer affordable private lessons. Whether you offer women only classes or not, many women are highly intimidated to join. Not everyone likes crowded spaces or thrives in groups. Offering private instruction might attract a whole clientele on it’s own and make you stand out. Most instructors don’t care to do it and charge a fortune. This is a great way to be competitive in your business. Ask newcomers if they would like to bring a friend, or a family member.

Be mindful. Hold space for all of your students to experience a healthy and positive social environment, where emotional leadership is at the top of your list; It’s is a huge key to retaining female attendees. Use tasteful humour; It puts people at ease and helps release tension. Follow up with women if you notice their motivation drop or if they leave. Listen, take notes and grow. Never assume you know everything, keep an open mind.

Pay attention to body language. Learn how to create relaxation. Focus on BREATH! Remember to ask permission before putting your hands on a woman, especially if demonstrating things like grabs and chokes, it might be a trigger. Think about implementing a dress code immediately, it encourages both the instructors and students to be comfortable, encourages everyone to remain focused on training,  minimizes the worry of tearing good clothes and stops unnecessary time spent on wondering what we should wear.

Promote an environment where people are powerful yet respectful. Nurture a positive self concept for each individual through good character, responsibility, individual achievements and service. It encourages cooperation as opposed to competition. Men often thrive with edge and competition, but many women tend to shut down if pushed to compete all the time, or become highly aggressive.

Be careful of who use as examples or role models for behaviour. For example look at Ronda Rousey. She is quite a phenomenon and I respect her skills, but if we look a little deeper she’s a questionable role model for young women in my opinion. She appears to be very aggressive on and off the matts . That may be a great component in creating a top athlete, but the general public benefit in seeking balance in relating to self defence. An overly aggressive stance will invite conflict and possible legal ramifications.

Show them how their training can help them to create balance in their lives. I learned resilience from the concept of maintaining centre line for instance. As cool as it is to learn how to fight and control the body, the focus of self protection is quite different than what you would present for mixed martial arts. We have a responsibility to clarify these things with trainees & practitioners , and model positive leadership by developing our own mind and seeking balance. Even the simple exercise of being present and breathing can be very difficult for most people.

Challenge the mind as well as the body. Boredom is a huge problem with younger students especially. They are not very self aware and lack initiative in the right places due to the current educational system. We have an opportunity to offer them a chance to share their knowledge, use critical thinking and to be respectful and responsible human beings. In participating in class in a positive way, they will transfer those skills in the community and thrive. It can be a great rite of passage. If they get challenged in our, they might not feel the need to do so on the streets and at home.

Keep the chatter in check. Women especially seem to love to chat, that’s how we connect. Explain why it’s important to pay attention and be respectfully mindful, how that relates to the sensitivity and situational awareness and how YOU may need to focus. Make space for social activities later maybe, allow relevant questions and feedback, but I find too many people chatting is just irritating and distracting. We need to practice mindfulness on the matts if we want to transfer that to the streets. Time is of the essence! There are learning opportunities at all times, especially in watching others, not just in receiving techniques.

Keep it light, short and simple. Execution and feedback should be kept simple at first so they feel successful. Invest in lost so they can remain excited and willing to come back for more. Private instruction is an excellent way to learn in my experience, because we can go at our own pace and not feel under pressure to keep up with a group that may be more advanced or appear to catch on faster. If techniques and concepts are too complicated, women will instinctively know they probably won’t remember it or use it under stress.

Basics basics basics, is a popular motto I endorse. Many business owners and instructors are afraid their students will get bored. In fact it’s your job to make it interesting, to introduce variety, but to remind people that conditioning the body is important to be effective under duress.

Be aware of how you come across to the women you train. Ask yourself questions and connect with other successful people in women’s self defense. How do you relate to women? What kind of image do you project? What images do you post or put on your wall as motivation, and are they respectful and truly empowering? Do you have honest women friends who can give you clear and constructive feedback.

Sometimes, stories of violence can trigger people, and you might not even know when it does. Having healthy boundaries and creating safety in class is something that will be transferred into the real world for everyone to experience. Some guys I know don’t really care about consequences and just plow through the class. That’s fine and dandy  but if you’re going to be known as an insensitive jerk you will ultimately dissuade women from training with you (or with anyone else).

Encourage critical thinking. Don’t laugh at questions and concerns. Sarcasm is not cool and discourages many from asking more questions. We may have an idea what fear feels like when facing danger, but we really don’t know. Your job is to hold space, help tap into and unleash power, not ridicule and minimize other people’s experience.

Value long term health over machismo by ensuring safety in conditioning work and by making it okay for people to sit out of exercises. Promote self care and awareness. When it comes to training and conditioning, give options that are relevant to different body types and fitness levels. Encourage people to outdo themselves and not compare themselves to others.

Explain the difference between pain and discomfort. No pain no gain? If you want people to come back, demonstrate control, ask everyone to be honest in their feedback during drills, including men!

Demonstrate how to tap, verbally and with hands and feet. We may have a high pain tolerance during childbirth, that doesn’t mean we like it on a daily basis! There’s a time and a place for full power. I have a student who got her nose broken TWICE in a kickboxing club as a beginner. I’m surprised she even tried a different school! She felt at ease in a private lesson and able to open up about her previous experience and how difficult it was. In her storytelling, she basically shared what her needs were. Women can be very tough, but it’s clear that some teachers and students are simply abusive.

Constantly remind  yourself that as a result of social conditioning in a lot of cultures, most women may be unaccustomed to violence the way men are.  Many women have never been punched and have unrealistic expectations about their efficiency in fighting. They might be uncomfortable with contact and grappling. They will instinctively want to push their partner away, especially if they perceive them as a threat, either through past trauma, intuition or just role play . Show them how it is advantageous at times to be closer for control and protection, explore different striking ranges and introduce contact very slowly. I was actually told by my teacher not to use contact on the first day…

Adapt or use drills that focus on women’s strengths. I find that drills that focus on spacial awareness and internal focus where you can connect with intuition are a great place to start with, because it teaches us to recognize and communicate boundaries setting. I often introduce breath exercises to slow down, and invite people to close their eyes during simple drills so they can process the movement more kinesthetically. I encourage feedback and check in often to create safety. If there are males in the class, I make sure we’re all on the same page.

Some women will be very hesitant to participate in certain activities such as reaction drills. Some will throw themselves into everything and use unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with the consequences later. While we do not all wish to be counsellors, it can be very useful to expand our skills set to more than self defence techniques. It can be pretty messy when triggers are flying all over the place, and most people are ill equipped to deal with it. What has saved me as an instructor and as a student, is self awareness and good communication skills. It’s very much aligned with de-escalation techniques, so it’s very useful in my experience. Violence is a complex subject, and so is trauma. If we’re going to teach self defence, might as well be informed in conflict prevention and emotional first aid.

Show your genuine interest by listening and being transparent. Most women wish to be heard, not fixed. Most groups who deal with victims of violence and abuse are reluctant to host classes or refer their clients out because they run the risk of being triggered and be re-traumatized.  As far as they are concerned, we could be part of the problem! I’ve heard many stories from well intended practitioners, who went and offered their services and were turned down.

Lastly remember that in certain cases it would be prudent  to ask your student(s)/trainee(s)  to go and see a counsellor as a means for support, or suggest a trauma specialist. It can be a touchy subject, but I find that if my intentions are good, they will know. Training within a group will raise issues naturally. When we have suffered trauma, some of those issues are real, but many are projections from our mind and from the past. A healthy human being might have great coping mechanisms in place, but people who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and mental illnesses are a little more challenged in carrying healthy relationships, respecting boundaries and finding creative solutions to resolve conflict. They might need extra support to live harmoniously in your school and recognize their part in it.

By taking on too much, you might find yourself and other students to be frustrated and lacking compassion. It might again result in chaos and a drop in membership. Good leadership is to recognize our limitations, taking responsibility and communicate that effectively. While it might be difficult to let go, it also models self care and appropriate boundaries, which is often the primary issue in someone with a history of abuse.

 

Question #6. Lately, it seems  impossible to have a public discussion on self-defense for women without being accused of Victim-Blaming, what are your thoughts on that issue?

Look at your language and see how that may be part of the problem in speaking with others.

There was a time where I believed that communicating with men was impossible, and that they sincerely couldn’t give a rats ass about what I thought. I learned how to relate to them.  I learned to keep an open mind and heart and look for men who did! I had faith in humanity. I read stuff from David Deida for example, triggering as hell at times, but I had a choice to accept the truth or not. My goal was to be in healthy relationship with men, so I listened.

Most of us know that even with self defence training, people might not survive.

Can you find compassion for a person who thinks they are victimized just by seeing where it might be true for you? It’s one thing to suggest self defence training, and quite another to tell a rape victim it would not have happened if she had some self defence training. I think many of us are very aware of what blaming is about.

I have read other opinions that are similar to mine as well. You could therefore use this as evidence that it is not only possible, but that there might be a need for learning better communication from your part. Some people say the answer lies in how it registers. Yes, there is much responsibility in hearing intention I think, but it’s also our job to create resonance and check in.

Challenges in communication between men and women are nothing new, so perhaps we should practice safely with topics a little less intense than rape to begin with. If someone sounds controlling in conversation, they might simply not feel safe or heard. It’s similar to bringing the big weapons out before basic conditioning. There are many books written on the subject of communication and emotional intelligence, seminars, classes, videos etc. How many have you taken? How many times did your wife say she wants you to communicate, just this month? By the way, University education doesn’t always guarantee great communication, if anything it can make it worse.

 

Question #7. What are your thoughts on “TEACH BOYS NOT TO RAPE” as a solution to the problem systemic sexual assault?

Well anyone who sees this as a solution on it’s own, is possibly not looking at the whole picture. Sexual assault is not exclusive to women, nor is it automatically a parent’s fault if and when it occurs. What concerns me in raising children, is that it starts with me. As soon as I blame others for not doing their job, I have no power. I have a son of my own, and his welfare and happiness are a big concern to me. To assume that teaching boys not to rape will solve the problem is a little naive in my opinion. Unfortunately, we often learn about these things as we mature. I too was filled with fantasies about the world and righteous ideas on how my parenting would be. I know now is that it begins with me, not with my son. I need to be respectful of myself, of him, and of others. He will learn by modelling.

We need to be mindful of how we affect men with our thoughts and behaviour. Some of what goes on may be out of our control, but I would rather be mindful of what is my responsibility and start there. Our intentions might be good, and yet, it does not guarantee success. I remember a man telling me about a police officer coming to his school as a teenager and sharing rape statistics. He directly mentioned how many boys out of the room would become sexual offenders. Apparently all the girls became afraid and never interacted with the boys in the same way. I can understand why this would be upsetting to a man.

I was reminded that separating the girls from the boys in training self defence is a bad idea as well. It implies the boys are the problem and need to be feared. It reinforces that women are victims and completely denies everyone’s vulnerability. A more recent approach is in educating people of their responsibility as bystanders, and I think this is very important as a woman. I love knowing that men can count on me to have their back as well as knowing they might come to my defence if I need it. There is a lot of power in groups and in community.

I have taught my son not to buy into the stranger danger idea for that reason. I would rather put my time in building community, and having people know they can count on us for support by creating a sense of family.

It’s unfortunate because many men have lost their voice as a result of fear and separation, therefore they become victims themselves. Without language, men’s emotions all are suppressed causing even more trouble, including addiction, depression and suicide.

If anyone chooses to believe that it’s simple to address criminal behaviour, they need to educate themselves on the subject!  Finding ways to teach respect for all human beings, especially for people with multiple barriers and mental health issues is a better idea, so lets not waste too much time on social media arguing about nonsense we have no power over such as criticizing parents. I’m sure there are more effective ways to address the problem than to antagonize people.

As a leader in my family, I don’t want to be the only one who knows first aid, who cooks, cleans, communicates clearly and works, who cares for children and takes responsibility for our safety in general. We’re a team. So as a leader, I think it’s fair to encourage everyone to be their own first line of defence. Why should a man take the job of defending job on their own? Who looks after your family when you’re not around? It’s my job as a parent to ensure my own survival and my offsprings. Women often put their lives on the line anyway, so might as well have the skill to survive.

For crying out loud, ANIMALS know this…

 

Question #8. Any final thoughts on self-defense training for women?

Some women ARE listening and taking responsibility.

I think the key is to educate leaders and work together towards a common goal. Let’s practice compassion and find creative solutions. I asked one girl in one of my classes what she taught would encourage women to come and trained and she said: “CHILDCARE!”. Our priorities may be  wrong, but we think the same about men most of the time. I have spent most my life taking steps to understand men, I think it has paid off.

Men’s ego is often fed by being heroes, maybe we should look at how that keeps us from rising to the occasion. They’d rather go play or work than look after the kids while we go train, or help find childcare so that we can go together. Keep in mind that with our attempt to keep up financially and being independent by working all day, in addition to being the primary caregivers and housekeepers, maybe even being single mothers, the last thing we want to do is go train and fight. A massage and a glass of wine sounds like a much better deal to me. What I want is to less stress, not more!

Besides, a lot of guys have seen female power as competition, they’re not comfortable with it and often sexualize the whole thing because competition is just weird. At work, you wouldn’t believe the SHIT I have to put up with because I’m a powerful woman, from my team and from the public. We’re talking about being challenged, feared or criticized because I look tough and focused, sexual harassed, ridiculed, constantly being reminded I should smile more because I look too serious, and being yelled at because I’m doing my job enforcing rules, or embarrassing men for slacking off and flirting on the job.
It takes a humble man with his ego in check to be a great leader, and it takes an even bigger man to LOVE a powerful woman.

See J. Kaikan Boyd’s bio here.

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