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Self-Defence: A Holistic Approach

“Self-defence is more than a just a set of techniques, it is a set of beliefs and it starts with the belief that you are worth defending.”

Image of brain made up of words such as belief, feeling, memory, instinct

There are a lot of people who don’t really believe that they are worth defending. I see living proof of this time and time again when I run a beginners self-defence session, especially a female only one. Ask a woman to hit the pads because they are someone who has just attacked her and she will half-heartedly hit them whilst apologising for possibly hurting you at the same time. Tell that same woman to pretend that those pads just attacked her child and they go positively feral with no apologies to be heard.

Fair enough, you might say it makes sense but I beg to differ. I always say to those women, “why does someone else deserve more defending than you? That person you are so desperate to defend would be gutted if you never came home again so you need to prioritise your own safety too.”

A coach can teach someone to hold hand mitts, how to strike them, how to move their body, work their feet, get a stable stance and so on but a good coach will be working on the mindset and explaining the psychology behind things so people learn how to interpret and use their instinctive reactions.

Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual; four aspects that are inextricably linked in all areas of life. True self-defence is not like a fight scene from a movie, it starts on the inside and can manifest itself in something as seemingly simple as being able to say, “No.”

Water droplets falling into water ripple

The National Curriculum focuses on all aspects of a young person so why does it not include skills such as basic self-defence? It is every human’s right to defend themselves so surely, they should be given some skills which would allow them to do so should the situation arise. Self-defence does not have to be taught in a frightening way but instead could be integrated into the curriculum in a way that is positive and empowering for all involved.

Offering self-defence to young people would mean it would be an intrinsic part of their development which in turn would lead to a more ‘switched on’ society who have a good understanding about basic issues such as awareness, listening to gut instincts and assertive behaviour.

Effective self-defence is about using a mixture of emotional, physical and mental skills in a positive way to keep yourself safe. Maybe you should give it a go? Don’t worry, no head kick skills required!

NB: Don’t fall for any of the martial arts clubs who say they teach ‘self-defence’. Self-defence and martial arts are two very different things. There will be a future blog on that at some point!

Philippa Scannell, November 2021

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