Why Teaching Multi-Faceted Moves in Women’s Self-Defense is Dumb/ AKA Address the Freeze ResponseRead Now
In every class I have taught I use a demonstration of calling on a random gal to come up to the front. I stand about 10-15 feet away and then start walking towards her at an even pace. Speaking in a harsh tone about my neck hurting, I use blame language, something like, “Lady it was you who hit my f*%king car!” To date there has not been one woman who hasn’t froze. They stand there wondering what the hell is going on and blink at me immobile.
I am 5’6’’, usually wearing a brightly colored T-Shirt with a stupid saying, they are in my course to become safer, and yet they are rendered stock-still. Mostly due to bewilderment, some to language shock (see my article here on why this is very important), some a bit of confusion, but that’s exactly it, these are all normal responses to even if I was a 200-pound man, same phrasing, walking up to them in a parking lot. In the end they are rendered stunned, and that person is in their space set up perfectly for a surprise blow while she is still trying to come to grips what is even going on.
A recent study done by a Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden showed that over 70% of women experienced tonic immobility during a sexual assault. Tonic Immobility is the rigid, unmoving state in response to intense fear. Out of the 278 of those interviewed, 192 is an extremely high number to have experienced this. (pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) Also please keep in mind this is the number reported, estimations go much, much higher.
Last week we had a woman walk into the gym who had been the victim of a recent assault. This snail-slick-scum-excuse-for-a-human had seemed harmless to her before, but this time had shown he knew her route and personal details of her life. For the sake of being my typical sweetheart self and not calling things out specifically I will leave off the name of the actual women’s self-defense course (only stating it is a popular one) and point out that she had attended three of their clinics prior to her incident, when burning-racoon-rot laid hands on her. She froze. She came into our gym angry and rightfully scared, looking for a more permanent solution so as not to be a victim again.
So, in the spirit of ruffle, ruffle, chicken tussle, I am going to lay it out here. With that high of percentage, with literally every female I have tested that example on becoming immobile, if your Women’s Self Defense Clinic does not put the most stress on overcoming freeze responses and managing encroachment of space, you are not doing any good, and just hindering valuable time. Most women are going to come in once for a three-hour slot at the most and that’s all you have. An emphasis of technique verses mentality is, to be quite honest, showing you have not done the research and are out of touch with actual real responses from the general public. If you have truly chosen your job to help make people safer please remove your ego and hear me out. You only have a specific amount of time; there can be no comparison of the ladies who will only take this tiny bit out of their life, to your ingrained daily fighter mentality. Of course the goal is to have the continuance of training, but that is likely not going to be the case and you have to teach the most imperative in the shortest amount of time. And guess what? The imperative is just getting them to move.
Our MMA fighters at the gym run the same constant drills over and over and over for punching and kicking… I believe I have even wrote an article about spending an entire class on just jabs…. These are hammered into their head like a high-production factory line manufacturing the world’s finest concussions. But when they get into the cage, it is all they can do to string just a couple combos together when under stress and adrenaline. Meaning there is no way a person can take a couple hour class and then possibly a year later pull off the four-point move that was taught when someone grabs their hair. No, they are getting their face slammed into a brick wall. They are going to be stunned, they will be thinking, “this is not happening,” they will be BELIEVING that, they will not understand the violence behind the act because they can barely get over the shock of the language used, they will not be looking around for person two, they won’t even be able to yell, and they will probably hesitate to hurt the person that is hurting and violating them because they weren’t the ones to wake up and choose violence.
One of the best courses I have taken and am retaking for a third time in April is ECQC (Extreme Close Quarters Concepts) with Craig Douglas. What makes him, in my opinion, a premium shelf instructor is the MUC (Managing Unknown Contacts) portion of all his workshops. He has fined tuned how to deal with potential threats, what to look for in an attacker, and how to keep them at a distance while constantly surveying surroundings. It is honestly a four-hour instructional that I think every person should take male and female. You can actually watch it on the Warrior Poets Society Network. I obviously am geared more towards the female side. Craigs class can be intimidating because, well, it’s about fighting with a pistol, but I base a good portion in my classes off what I have learned from him and his drills dealing with unknown possible threats.
Model Mugging, a 30-year-old women’s self-defense conglomerate, did a study of their course graduates, "Out of 1000 students threatened and actually assaulted, over 800 were able to prevent victimization by just their voice, boundary setting, and conflict resolution skills.”
You cannot teach technique if 70% aren’t even going to react. You must start with what is mentioned above and work into movement, not necessarily moves; then the actual mentality of survival, stressing that they HAVE to keep fighting, they cannot quit. In my opinion pummeling is important for teaching how to flow constantly. It doesn’t have to be a militant version but is a good foundation, easy to do quick reps, and can be pressed into the brain as a segue for being a hard victim to keep a hold of.
There is nothing natural about fighting. I heard someone once say in a course (likely Craig), “You know what is natural? Drowning. You have to learn how to swim.” What is natural is a freeze response to an average person untrained. Their brain is just trying to play catch up to someone that has already chosen assault making the other possible flight response obsolete.
Geoff Thompson’s book, Dead or Alive, speaks of studies that have shown just mastering the prefight is 80% more effective at deterring a predator. He goes on to say, “the people we are talking about, those in society that attack for fun or for profit do not give a monkey’s f*&k about what is right or wrong. They have no morals and would take great pleasure in raping a girl. They have already decided to break the law and are on the very dark side of wrong.”
The tagline for Healthy Buffalo is, “Know when the fight starts.” Understanding that the beginning of a fight is not the physical, but the mental aspect is key and will give a possible victim even more precious seconds to use their body to act. Knowing what to look for, being alert, and possibly being able to stop the encroachment of a threat with a clear assertive voice can help overcome the freeze responses giving one ample time to think.
We can teach management of surroundings, but we must include the management of strangers around us, avoidance tactics, HOW to speak if necessary, and what to look for in predatory cues so that if the time arises when under-the-table-gum-goo goes for a grab, the reaction is indignant and swift and all movement.
#healthybuffalo #womensselfdefense #egocheck #knowwhenthefightstarts #wemustdobetterforthem #research #noyoucantjustrunaway
Leave a Reply.
Author- Christun Erwin
"Thank you for your words. They make an impact and its important that, human to human, woman to woman, mother to mother... you know that you make a difference, even to those you never knew your words" -Krystal