Self-defense for women is something that Ripple Effect Martial Arts takes very seriously. Instructors and students train daily to be ready and able to defend themselves. But apart from self-defense seminars, strength-building exercises, sparring and partner drills aimed at disarming, repelling or escaping an attacker, there’s a key element to martial arts that helps women feel safe.
It’s community. When you’re surrounded by friendly, courteous, helpful, smart, powerful people, you feel safe. To do what makes you happy and express yourself in ways that are true—that’s the goal of becoming a black belt; not only to be able to protect yourself in a dangerous encounter, but to stand up for others and make the world a better place.
This is the mission shared with Boulder, Colorado-based Newton Running: “Our Mission is to be the world’s leader in natural running shoe technology and form, and use our platform to advance social responsibility initiatives to help make the world a better place.” [Italics ours]
We value that mission, and we should. Running pits people against the elements, the terrain, the strain on heart and legs and lungs. It’s a huge part of martial arts training. It’s also a pursuit that women should pursue without any fear of being harassed, or worse, attacked. As a black belt community, we can’t allow intimidation of women on the trail (or at home, in the neighborhood or the workplace). We can’t allow intimidation anywhere.
Predators seek out and wait for the easiest prey. This is one (extremely sad, but real) reason that women are statistically more vulnerable to attack than men; not because women are weaker or less able to defend themselves, but because that’s an assumption that predators make. That’s the perception of o woman in a predator’s eye.
We want to change that. Men can help by being aware of their own presence. Look women in the eye. Nod. Wave. Acknowledge with a look that you’re ready to help, if needed. If you’re running ahead, give some space and pass on by. If she’s outpacing you, give some space and let her go ahead.
Be aware. Be an ally. Be a black belt.