Thank you for your patience. I’m not sure when I will get back to regular posting. There are still too many things going on right now. Maybe some day I’ll post about sticking with karate through tough times. But for now, I give you the first of three posts about what I’m up to these days.
Long time readers of this blog will know I’m interested in some day teaching self defense seminars. I’ve attended a few in order to learn what is taught, how it is taught, and about the students themselves. I’m wrapping up my first long-format seminar on Wednesday. I must say I do see a lot of advantages to a total of nine hours of instruction. As always, I have takeaways for my own art.
I’ve long since known about the signs around the police station that encourage people taking classes or attending meetings to park on the streets and at the community center rather than fill up the very small parking lot near the station. As I jogged to class from my car, I thought wryly that remote parking isn’t as safe as parking near the class, particularly during the dark evening hours in late fall, winter, and early spring. Fortunately, we were told in class that parking in the little lot by the station is OK. I’ll leave those spaces to the other women.
Right away, instructors gave participants a thin book chock full of information and pictures. I appreciate the wide margins for taking notes. Included in the RAD book is a form certifying that I have participated and guaranteeing me a spot in any future RAD class nationwide free of cost. That is an interesting offer that I should consider for my own future seminars. I could do a substantial discount – I would still like to get some money. Mainly I want to teach self defense seminars as a fundraiser for karate athletes, coaches, and officials who attend national and international competitions. Also I think I’d very much enjoy enjoy teaching self defense seminars.
One of the things I ask myself when I attend self defense seminars is if I want to someday earn certification with a self defense organization or if I simply want to create my own curriculum. American Women’s Self Defense Association is one organization I’ve heard of, and now I’m getting a look at Rape Aggression Defense Systems. I’m not worrying overmuch about certification yet because first I feel like I need to earn my Shodan (first degree black belt) before I start getting serious about teaching seminars!
I know full well that there are differences between martial arts and self defense seminars. I appreciated Day 1’s introduction to the Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) system. The RAD philosophy is to create openings to get away and to give women options on what to do. I’m sure that has been mentioned in previous self defense seminars I’ve taken, but it’s nice to have that formally acknowledge in print. I’ve heard similar sentiments from my sensei(s) (instructors) on occasion, but I do know we train for prolonged and/or multiple-opponent fights just in case it takes us awhile to break free. It’s there even in our most basic kata (forms).
There’s also a difference in attendees. Karate students are in class because they want to dedicate themselves to a martial art, or their parents made them go, or they couldn’t get into any other college physical education class. Women who go to self defense seminars might be afraid of what could happen or what has happened to them. They want techniques and confidence. The very first tool we were taught to use was our voices.
Having participants introduce themselves was an exercise in speaking up. The instructor encouraged us to project (a theater term) so the whole room could hear. This led into exercises shouting “NO!” and “GET BACK!” Some of the women had trouble raising their voices even while talking about something pleasant. I was surprised at how few could shout “NO!” in a way that would be sure to intimidate an attacker and draw attention from bystanders.
Most of the first seminar was dedicated to paperwork, an introduction to RAD, and some facts and statistics about assault and rape. I very much appreciated the instructors pointing us to actual state laws about self defense (Washington State RCW 9A.16.020) Before we got to learn physical stuff, the instructors established ground rules. Among those ground rules was if we were working with one another, we were to use only 80% power. I made a mental note to use only 10% of my power. I know my capabilities.
We learned three stances very similar to kamae dachi (fighting stance) – and actually the feet were the same but the arms differed. One stance was for just standing alertly, casually observing, and two were for responding to increasing escalation of the situation. We also learned two uke (receivers) and I was pleased to hear the instructors say that “block” is a misleading term. These two uke were pretty much identical to “abbreviated” uke(s) karateka use during kumite (sparring).
Takaway for my Karate: I’m used to lightning-fast straight punches. When the instructor threw a haymaker (padded forearm), I was playing chicken, waiting for the last instant to block. The instructor said that was the fastest haymaker she could throw, and even the fastest haymaker is pretty darned slow, so there was no need for me to play chicken. What she wanted me to do instead of playing chicken was to receive the haymaker – to execute a true uke (receiver) instead of a block.
Three hours seems like a long time, but it just flew by.