I am writing this because this is important. For women. And men.
For as a woman, I am tired of bearing the charges of ‘dressing inappropriately’ or ‘mixing freely’ or ‘being out late’. As a woman, I am tired of letting touches and gazes violate my boundary wall of what I call decency (and what is ENTIRELY MY PREROGATIVE). As a woman, I am tired of having to give explanations of why I stayed out late when I know that ‘wolves are lurking, smelling fresh meat’. As a woman, I am tired of having a male chaperon to divert evil touches and gazes. As a woman, I am tired of being told that we are stronger than men because we can bear children and pain with equal elan. As a woman, I am tired of being asked to take the office car drop from office because it’s dangerous for me to venture out in a cab at 11 pm on deserted roads. To change mindsets of naysayers takes time. But to change OUR approach, takes a little effort. Yes, I am advertising this blatantly because it is important that we take care of ourselves and not have our male partners at our beck and call all the time.
This is a self-defence workshop for women. And I would love to see more and more women take part in it. No, you won’t be taught Karate and be expected to become black belters. It would be a tiny step towards self awareness and freedom from burdens, tags and labels. Following are certain methodologies and practices that we hope to inculcate.
I hope this will be a rewarding experience for all interested…
Awareness – being mindful all the time
We often walk with our attention on either our phone, texting, speaking to someone over the phone, or our minds just roaming about anywhere. We mechanically get from one place to another and are often unaware of our surroundings. A potential threat can be lurking right behind us. We don’t realize it unless it’s too late. It is important to have all senses focussed – all the time. This is easier said than done. Somewhere, our parents and teachers have always been right when they had asked us to focus, focus, focus. A personal incident comes to mind. I was once getting back from work. Walking and pushing through the crowded sidewalk with eyes focused on my phone, I didn’t realize that I was being followed until it was too late. The crowd, here, worked to my disadvantage. Suddenly, I saw an arm reach out from behind me and trying to touch my crotch area. Thankfully, I knew what to do. I brought my right arm down – a downward block I was taught in my martial arts class. I hit the extended arm hard and though it hurt my wrist, I was successful in averting unsolicited touches in my private parts. I turned around immediately to see a depraved looking young man clutching his right arm in pain. He was taken by surprise. He ran and disappeared into the crowd in the opposite direction. While I could capitalize on the situation, I failed to bring him to task as I stood there staring at him writhe in pain and then quickly slip away. My mind was still thinking what to do when he made the escape. So, an effort that was only half successful.
Vulnerability identification – how body language can help
A lot depends on how you carry yourself in public. Trust me, many encounters are avoided if your body language is right. This is actually rule number one. Be it inside public transports, on the streets, in a party, a gathering or a deserted parking lot. Always walk/have your shoulders squared and your chin up. This also keeps your body ready in case you need to fight or take flight. A slouching posture, sloping shoulders and extended tummy will take you a fraction of a second to straighten. Sometimes, that’s enough time for a snatch and run or a casual touch or brush against your body. Or to maybe pin you down. It has got nothing to do with what you wear. Whatever way you are dressed, squared shoulders and a straight chin exudes confidence. That you are aware of your surroundings. And a general aura of assertiveness that your attacker will think twice before flinging himself on you. Yet, and yet, there will be situations when none of these matter. When you will have to rely on your fists.
Situational recognition – open streets, parks, crowded places, enclosed spaces
Again, it is extremely important to be aware of our surroundings. If we are alone in a parking lot, we must and must stay sharp as to which way is the exit. Or the fire escape. Anything that helps you flee the situation and/or call for help. Sometimes, the worst molestations happen in a crowded place. And it is very difficult to pinpoint who the perpetrator is and then do something about it. Being aware will help you move yourself to a safe spot. Or a potentially safe spot.
Psychological preparations – breaking inhibitions
The worst moments are those when you don’t know what to do after you have been touched/molested/attacked. It is important to overcome inhibitions. A split second is enough to commit a crime. How you react will determine whether your attacker is punished or repeats the crime. Again, I remember a personal incident. I boarded a crowded bus to work one day and was somehow standing with both arms overhead clutching the handlebar. I then became aware that a hand was brushing against my backside. From the touch, I could understand that this was no accidental touch. It was intentional. I was wondering what to do. Turn around and confront the person. Or wait and see whether it was really accidental or not. Then I started thinking what if it was accidental. I knew that once I accused the person, he will defend himself and give the excuse of the crowd. Or the constant lurching of the bus. I thought about the eyes on me, looking at me. What would the other people be thinking? What if it was intentional? Would the others voice their concern? Defend me? Support me? I thought all this and all the while the hand kept brushing my backside. Then I turned to face the person. Saw he was moving towards the front end of the bus and was disembarking. He won. I failed. I kept thinking and did nothing.
Ultimate goal – fleeing is the goal and call for help
Assuming that we are successful in bringing our attacker down, we don’t want to be bundled up with him landing blows after blows. This is not a boxing match where you wait for the referee’s countdown. Our ONLY objective is to RUN and GET HELP.
Raising your voice – Draw attention
We live in a city where it could actually be futile to scream for help. You may draw a crowd but chances are, they will be mute spectators. Of course, there are some angels among them who will step forward when you ask for help. However, screaming has its other advantages. It rattles your attacker for a split second which will buy you the time to either punch his jaw or groin or finger his eyes. But again, it’s not easy. Most of us lose our voice when faced with a threat. In Karate, we are taught the ‘kiai’. When we spar, we land our blows and shout. This ‘kiai’ has the same effect. In the animal kingdom, I’m sure you all have seen, first, a lion roars when in a threat scenario. An elephant trumpets. A gorilla beats his chest with a loud and menacing growl. The objective is the same. To instil fear. Most of the times, our roar will be reduced to a squeak. But hey, that will take some time and practice. The scream will also, hopefully, draw attention. Even if there is a crowd, your attacker will most likely not harm you in front of the crowd and expect to run away.
Apart from sharing such and more insights, the workshop will show you tips and tricks to defend yourself from:
- Single unarmed assailant
- Multiple unarmed assailants
- Rear attack
- Frontal attack
- Butt grabbing, pinning to a wall, being pulled by the hair, mounting, throat grabbing, potential rape scenarios
- Armed assailants
- Making a weapon out of purse/handbag, shoes, mobile phones
- Verbal negotiation tips
- Freeing your body, loosen up, building a confident body language, sharpening reflexes, being ever ready
…And much more…
So, if you can set aside 2 hours each day on 22nd and 23rd August between 4 and 6 pm and 800 bucks, you could, who knows, break the shin bone of your attacker the next time you face a threat (God forbid though).
This is just the beginning.
Do like, share and comment. Urge your friends to see and participate. Spread the word.
Thank you very much.
*Disclaimer: Violence is and will always be the LAST resort. We do not support unnecessary violence. But we also
do not spare scums of the highest order and will keep our fists balled (pun intended) when needed.