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  • Women's Self Defense Courses - What do you think?

    I've always been rather skeptical of women's self defense courses. You know, the ones where they teach them a few moves and to yell and scream, etc. They usually only last about 4 hours or so and the students walk away with this new found confidence that they can "open a can" when needed and now walk safely in the dark.

    Sure, many of these courses also cover awareness and avoidance, etc. but the main focus is physical self-defense covered in a very brief block of instruction.

    My concern is that this can ceate a false sense of confidence. Hand-to-hand skills take an ENORMOUS amount if time and practice to truly master to the point where it is instinctive.

    HOWEVER.... (you knew it was coming, didn't you?)

    I've recently had a discussion where someone expressed that they didn't see how such training could hurt, and that it might help.

    I explained my position that while such self-defense moves may work in some scenarios where the attacker is not determined, a true gutter fight with a hard core street thug is a hole other ball game and a "little" resistance can trun a bad situation worse.

    I've never seen a rapist or robber deterred because he was scratched by someone's car keys, or got on owwie from a kuboton. These are things which might deter the drunk business man from groping you in the elevator, but they don't offer much to stop "J-Dog" who just got out of the pen on an agg assault beef.

    I've always felt that quality defensive sprays were much more effective as well as being easier to learn to use.

    I'm also all for women carrying firearms, but many will not choose to make that commitment and defense sprays (along with other safety/security training) are a very effective alternative. (In fact, I recommend defense sprays along with firearms.)

    I am interested in hearing others opininions on the matter.

    I suspect that there is a deep psychological need to feel the self-assurance of "knowing" self-defense. But, that the reality is that knowing a little can be a dangerous thing. I also feel that DT trainers genuinely feel that they are doing good things, but that folks coming from sport martial arts backgrounds and such may not have the prerequisite experience with the realities of violent crime such as rape and robbery to be able to make truly informed decisions about it.

    I reserve the right to be wrong on this.

    I'd like to hear the opinions of some of our non-LEO female members as well as from some of our officers and DT/combatives instructors.
    -Sparky

  • #2
    Speaking on the side of a LEO --I have been a female police officer for about a year and a half with a mid sized dept. (125 sworn officers, community of 100K) At 5'6" and 125 Lbs; I am nowhere near being a muscle woman; however, I have never (and will never) backed down from a fight (involving a suspect, mind you..), especially when it involves another officer. I recently took a class, called PCR (Physical Conflict Resolution) presented by Strategos International at the Regional Training Center in Sioux City, IA (where i work). This class truly is unlike any DT class I have ever taken, in the civilian or LE world--you definitely don't have to be strong to succeed in this course...Anyway, I'm getting off the subject here...In a nutshell, I think that any DT is better than NO DT..and a civilian carrying around a handgun isn't exactly the safest thing in the world...you might reply that they would be "properly" trained, but some states only require a 16 hour handgun class to get a weapon permit...

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    • #3
      You are correct in assuming it is a psychological thing and that can be dangerous in man ways. A woman can feel that she is WONDER WOMAN if she is has taken a class. In many situations, a woman can be overpowered and injured or killed....raped; all those horrible things.
      Not to say that those classes are bad because self-confidence is a good thing to have and they do help with that. It is important to also teach prevention. Nobody can prevent a blitz attack but many situations which can result in an attack may be avoided. Knowing where to kick, grab, poke &run like hell helps, as well. NO FEAR and BE AWARE....some of Ted Bundy's victims could have avoided their demise had they simply NOT gotten in his car. But he was a sociopath and his blitz attack at the Chi Omega house in Florida happened only because doors were unlocked and he had he was on overdrive since he had been locked up before his escape. Those poor young women could not have avoided his rage.
      "You may all go to hell and I will go to Texas."
      Davy Crockett

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      • #4
        Maybe I am just naive, I don't know...but I don't carry anything and I have never taken a DT course. I mentioned this in a thread before but when I was younger my parents pounded the whole "don't talk to strangers" thing in my head endlessly. My mom also showed me how to not put myself in dangerous situations. Walk confident, head up, giving eye contact if someone walks by. I guess I just don't see myself as a victim of these crimes and maybe that shows when I'm out and about. First of all, I think that adrenaline plays a huge part in self-defense. I have felt that "adrenaline rush" before in different scenarios and I know for a fact that my first instinct would be to kick that guy in between the legs. BUT that is only if it is necessary in that particular situation like Sparky said, what if the perp got ****ed and sliced your throat?

        That is why, depending on the situation, I have a second alternative. If I was in a rape situation I understand for the most part it is about control and power, not sexual intimacy. With that said, I would turn the mind game around and pretend like I wanted so desperately to make love to him. (insert gag smilie pleeeeaase!)This screws up their plan. I have heard from different sources that this has worked in their particular situation. If you have ever seen the movie "Copycat" it is similar to what Sigourney Weaver does at the end of the movie. That is exactly what I'm talking about. I hope that I'm never in this situation, but if I am than this would probably be the course of action that I would take, and hope that God is watching over me.

        [ 06-13-2003, 05:40 PM: Message edited by: AutumnAngel ]
        Dance like no one's watching -- Sing like no one's listening, and work like you don't need the money.

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        • #5
          quote:
          My concern is that this can ceate a false sense of confidence. Hand-to-hand skills take an ENORMOUS amount if time and practice to truly master to the point where it is instinctive.

          I wouldn't necessarily disagree with that, but that isn't really the main focus of the better self defense programs like this website: IMPACT/PREPARE .

          First of all, the techniques are designed for situations where there's already no choice but to submit to an attack and adopt a victim's posture OR fight back. Escape and attracting help from passersby is always taught as preferable to a physical confrontation whenever possible.

          While the course does teach techniques, it's primary value isn't so much fighting skills as it is resisting the "freeze" impulse that accompanies extreme fear. Participants are taken through full contact scenarios whose specific purpose is to stimulate the all-out adrenaline response of an actual attack to decondition the paralysis response.

          The fact of the matter is MOST attackers pick their victims the way predatory animals do: they probe for initial (verbal and body language) responses that suggest an easy mark. That's why most muggings don't start with an outright demand for your wallet, they usually start out with an "innocent" request for the time of day, or a dollar. The object is to see whether there are signs of fear and intimidation, and this course teaches a woman not to freeze or react fearfully in that initial confrontation where she is establishing herself as an easy or difficult mark.

          Second, it teaches women NOT to engage in wishful thinking or "denial" when faced with danger. Many victims, especially those with any abuse history, fall into danger when they fail to acknowledge or admit to themselves that an attack is likely, or when they are embarrassed to respond "rudely" to the initial verbal probing.

          The better courses like IMPACT include 20+ hours of instruction given over a 4 or 5 week period, and they use fully padded instructors, precisely because no self-defense "technique" can be taught in principle without the real-as-possible opportunity to execute a full force strike and an all-out fight with full-contact.

          Statistically, very few rapists and other attackers use a deadly weapon, and most are looking for easy marks, not victims who are willing to fight them all out with unhesitating full force groin kicks, and straight finger eye strikes executed with absolutely every intention of gouging out an eye. Even in the worst case scenario of an armed attacker or a physically imposing assailant willing to fight for his goal, the better courses specifically teach women to admit to themselves that I AM REALLY GOING TO HAVE TO FIGHT THIS CLOWN , and then strategically feign fear, or USE their genuine fear to pretend to comply and cooperate, and wait for the inevitable opening when the attacker puts down the weapon and/or reaches to unzip his pants or whatever and then strike at the most vulnerable area without any concern for the attacker.

          Rather than resulting in overconfidence, these programs also teach one to be MORE aware and MORE cautious about potentially dangerous circumstances, where normal concerns about "embarrassment" sometimes override a woman's inner voice that is trying to alert her to impending danger.

          That doesn't mean a woman is going to be able to defend herself in every scenario against an assailant with a gun, or one who is 6-6/315, or three assailants simultaneously, any more than "The Club" makes it impossible to steal a car...but MOST rapists are looking for easy marks the way MOST car thieves and burglars are teens looking for unlocked car doors without antitheft devices, and for unlocked homes whose backdoors open when they test them.

          I enrolled my wife in IMPACT and I've seen the difference. In all likelihood, she'll never encounter the WCS situation, but it's already proven very helpful in everyday situations that aren't "dangerous", but where she now responds confidently and assertively to guys who don't take a polite brush off in the supermarket, and even in everyday "sales pressure" situations where simply saying "I'm sorry, but I'm just not interested" used to make her uncomfortable or second guess herself for being "mean" to a gym membership salesman, or phone solicitation or whatever.

          [ 06-13-2003, 01:48 PM: Message edited by: ProWritingServices4LEOs ]
          No longer ignoring anybody here, since that psycho known as "Josey Wales" finally got the boot after being outed as a LE imposter by B&G978. Nice job.

          Comment


          • #6
            I worked sex crimes for quite a few years and one thing I noticed was that often adult female rape victims had been previously been victims of other crimes. I do believe there is a victim mentality that suspects can read and respond to. I usually encouraged rape victims to take our Women's Strength program, if nothing else to gain some self confidence. No, a few hours of self defense isn't going to make a lot of difference, but if it makes them more confident, walk with purpose and keep from being a victim again, why not? They're not being taught so they can go out and find men to beat up, only to understand there are things they can to to prevent being victimized again.
            Jim
            "Life's tough, it's tougher if you're stupid." John Wayne

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            • #7
              I agree with everyone's points here really because each situation is different and victims have to act in the way they feel will save their lives. But having confidence is a great start. A little training can go a long way as most woman at one time or another face a situation (drunk co-worker, person pushing himself against you on a crowded train, octopus handed dates) and those self-defence classes are good at teaching that those inappropriate behaviours dont have to be put up with. I like the sound of the Womans Strength classes and know a few gals I feel would benefit!
              Daisy NY

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              • #8
                This is an interesting thread.

                Personally, from any of the self-defence courses I have seen, (and I've even put together and taught a couple) I don't think that anyone really walks away with a false sense of confidence.

                In fact, most people learn when they're actually wrestling around with someone a) what they're capable of, and b) what's realistic during a physical attack. In this way they come away from a course in a better position to employ a strategy of their choice when confronted with an attack.

                A good point was made that many self-defence techniques need months and even years of practice to master. Most courses are quite up front about this point in fact. No one turns into Jackie Chan over night.

                Personally I think arming oneself provides a false sense of security. It works great in a scenario when you have the weapon (pistol, pepper-spray etc.) deployed and ready to go. But where the assailant has the initiative, "going for your gun" can cost valuable fractions of a second. When I first heard this, I was pretty shocked and thought - "yeah right, when push comes to shove I'm still reaching for my weapon." The practical drills and scenarios have convinced me otherwise.
                People always tell the truth. The trick is knowing what to listen for.

                Comment


                • #9
                  quote:
                  and a civilian carrying around a handgun isn't exactly the safest thing in the world...
                  Yeah, they might actually shoot a scumbag and not have to bother calling you.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    MIKE....You're back!
                    Question for you L.E's.....lets say a low-life scum of the earth attacks me in my home or even out on the street. Somehow, I manage to get his gun away from him. (yea right) His weapon is stolen and not licensed. I kill his waste of life *** with one bullet at the base of his skull, rupturing his brain stem; stopping all pulmonary function.....will I get in trouble? I mean, it was not my gun....I was just defending myself! Will the cops believe that I got the weapon away from him...will they even check for fingerprints?
                    What would happen in the real world?
                    Sorry for the graphics...just went with the story.
                    "You may all go to hell and I will go to Texas."
                    Davy Crockett

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Generally speaking, the main difference between home and street is that before you can waste him in the street you have to first attempt to flee from him. Most (if not all) jurisdictions allow you stand your ground in your home or place of business and you can waste him if the only other option he gives you is to flee your own home.

                      However, regardless of whose gun, who is the bad guy, how bad, or the fact that it's in self defense, you can only waste him if deadly force was the only way for you to protect yourself from death or grievous bodily injury, and your judgment and perception of that threat under the circumstances also has to be objectively reasonable.

                      If he stops his physical attack on you once you grab the gun, you can't shoot him claiming self defense any longer. If you're between him and the door and he tries to get out the door, you can probably waste him as long as you reasonably believe that he is coming AT you again. If he's closer to the door than you are, most jurisdictions do not allow you to fire just to prevent his escape.

                      So stand in front of the door with the gun, call 911 and then in a clear enough voice that can be recorded really nicely for the 911 system, tell him to stay away from you because you don't want to have to shoot him with his own gun. When he advances toward the door...err, I mean toward your throat again, scream "No, stay away from me!!"" and shoot to kill, but make sure you hit him in the forehead not the base of his skull.

                      [ 06-13-2003, 10:36 PM: Message edited by: ProWritingServices4LEOs ]
                      No longer ignoring anybody here, since that psycho known as "Josey Wales" finally got the boot after being outed as a LE imposter by B&G978. Nice job.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        PWS is correct in that most, but not all, jurisdictions observe the castle doctrine, i.e., you are not obligated to retreat in your home or business.

                        OTOH, advising people to "shoot to kill" is pretty poor legal advice, particularly come the inevitable civil trial.

                        Advising head shots is worse still. Shooting center mass is tough enough under stress; an untrained shooter going for the head is highly likely to miss when it counts.

                        If women are going to carry, they should definitely first take a firearms course to learn how (and when) to properly use a firearm in self-defense. Regular practice thereafter will help ensure proficiency.
                        Dave Kiefner
                        [i]Die Wahrheit ist eine Perle. Werfen sie nicht vor die S

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          PWS4LEO:

                          quote:
                          make sure you hit him in the forehead not the base of his skull
                          Assuming you are confident that you can shoot accurately enough, the lower brain is the best head target.

                          The part of the brain directly behind the forehead provides higher cortical functions.

                          Although a forehead hit with a large caliber weapon is often immediately fatal, sometimes a person hit in the forehead can keep walking and shooting.

                          A person shot through the nose, assuming the head is upright, will lose lower brain functions. That will almost always immediately cause cessation of cardiac, respiratory, and motor functions.

                          Regards,

                          Monty

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I'm not a person who should ever have a gun in her hands.

                            That said, I've considered taking self defense classes, however, due to physical problems (a fusion in the back with residual right leg nerve damage), I'm not sure I could ever be coordinated enough to take some of those classes, let alone truly fight off someone trying to assault me. Of course, a bad guy isn't going to know about my bad leg, but it probably wouldn't take him long to figure it out. I did carry pepper spray for a while, but because of my present job and having to pass through security every day, I could not carry it to work with me anymore because it is not permitted inside my building.

                            I know about walking with confidence, staying alert to my surroundings, and keeping out of situations where my safety could be jeopardized. Short of that, what else is there? Are there self defense classes where physical ability is not a necessity and can be adapted for physical limitations?
                            "Americans don't want a mentally unstable president; he might start a war or something." - Bill Maher

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                            • #15
                              auntysuz63 asks:

                              quote:
                              Are there self defense classes where physical ability is not a necessity and can be adapted for physical limitations?
                              I can't remember the name of the class or teacher, but I have seen classes specifically designed for the physically disabled and senior citizens. The judo club I practice at has had a couple of blind students.

                              With respect to Bunny-Foo-Foo's question:
                              ProWritingServices for LEOs had a great reply. Basically a scenario such as this comes down to the premise of the "reasonable man" - in Canadian Law anyway. Generally speaking anyone has the right to use reasonable force to defend himself, or to remove an undesirable from his property.
                              People always tell the truth. The trick is knowing what to listen for.

                              Comment

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