Women's Self-Defence (Part 1) | Krav Maga Newcastle
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Women’s Self-Defence (Part 1)

A lot has changed for women over the years. We have moved away from traditional roles as homemakers relying on the support and protection of men into an autonomous life full of choice and self-efficacy. As warriors of finance, politics, business, medicine, and family life, we seem to have wandered out of our metaphorical cave and into a new type of living, too often taking with us attitudes of subservience that helped us survive in a very different social climate. Are we, the liberated cavewomen, unknowingly wandering into a forest being polite to wolves?

There seems to be a pendulum swinging between the mindset of meekness and the opposing mindset of “being as good as a man.” But what we often overlook is that a woman’s power does not lie in how close she is to being a man, but in how she identifies her unique strengths as a woman. What many of us think we lack in size, strength, and raw aggression, we more than make up for in cunning, intuition, the ability to multitask, the element of surprise, pain tolerance, supportive connections (think women in a nightclub bathroom giving out relationship advice to complete strangers), and so on.

To gain control of this new found sense of self-protection, we need to understand what we are dealing with… To understand how we need to retrain our skills of communication, decision making, and mental fortitude to fill in the gaps we need to be warriors capable of protecting ourselves… To reallocate our emotional intelligence away from making everyone else feel good and toward requiring respectful treatment of ourselves and those we love. While we could speak for hours on all aspects of this subject, in this post, I will discuss just one foundational concept that we teach in Woman’s Krav Maga.

Set Clear Boundaries and Enforce Them

Boundary setting comes in many forms. It is effective communication. It is calling attention to bad behaviour. It is knowing when (and how) to turn on our aggressive “mama-bear” mode. It is acknowledging when someone is making a situation uncomfortable and knowing we have a right to put a stop to it. It is NOT waiting to see what will happen. And it is certainly NOT taking it on the chin to make others feel comfortable.

We can set physical boundaries by moving away. We bring attention to unwanted physical closeness by verbalising (ie. “you are in my personal space”). Verbalising a breach of your boundary should be done in a low tone, without giggles or smiles, and with intent. This comes natural to some, but not natural to most. Take a look in a mirror and practice saying “step away from me.” See what facial expressions and tones are believable and practice those non-verbal communications that you find effective.

We can set emotional boundaries by calling attention to comments that are made to pass off the other person’s disapproval of our boundary as our problem (ie. whining to get one’s way, guilt tripping, gas lighting). If you feel uncomfortable—a persistent, haunting feeling—it must be addressed.

And in extreme circumstances, we set firm boundaries in situations that become violent by using physical, tactical and technical Krav Maga to strike and get away. This is one main reason we train!

When boundaries are set, people will push them. Think about a child asking for chocolate before dinner. Will one more piece really make them stop asking next time dinner rolls around? Under normal circumstances, you set precedents by what you allow. (Note that predators will never take no as “no.” That is NOT your fault, and this does fall into the category of extreme circumstances as noted above). This must be dealt with too. Set firm boundaries and enforce them. Say no, do not over commit, and be clear. It is not your responsibility to make everyone feel comfortable. Boundaries are only boundaries if they are enforced when overstepped. We train to be clear communicators about the consequences of crossing our boundaries based on the level of threat the breach elicits (ranging from gentle to aggressive).

Some Final Thoughts

Spending time practicing boundary setting with small things is a good place to start. Say no using different facial expressions and see which forms of communicating are responded to and how. The first step to effective communication is awareness of what we are portraying. More ideas to come in our next post!

Article written by Instructor Amanda Dalgardno Towle, Lead Women Instructor at Krav Maga Newcastle.