Self Defense for Men?
We do a lot of the wrong things for the right (sincere) reasons.
Many people are under the impression that self defense is for women and children, and that men should take martial arts, boxing, wrestling, or the like. They believe that women and children are more likely to be assaulted. I've seen many martial arts programs that offer separate classes like "Women's Self Defense," or make a special point of talking about what a woman should do to defend herself. However, the reality is that men are substantially more likely to be assaulted than women or children. This isn't just my opinion or limited experience -- this is the actual assault statistics. Further, due to their relative size, strength and aggression, men are more likely to be in a position where they are responsible and able to protect others from assault.
This is not to say that women and children should not learn self defense. Quite the opposite. However, men are actually more likely to need to use self defense skills to protect themselves or their family, and they are more likely to prevail if they do so.
The real fathers left in the world know this. Your home is your fortress, and you are the one responsible for the safety of every person within it. You will put yourself between any threat and people in your care. You will lay down your life, if necessary, to protect them, and you know that there are few things, if any, that would be more honorable. Many mothers rightly feel this way too. The difference is that fathers are physically more capable of bringing it about.
But should there be separate men's, women's and children's self defense classes?
There are only two reasons I can think of to justify segregating self defense classes. The first one is practical: It is dangerous to small people, especially children, to be around full grown adult men who are sparring/grappling. A light hit from a large male can easily injure a child, woman, or even a smaller male. This is especially true when we are working on vulnerable self defense targets. However, in a real self defense scenario one is likely to be attacked by someone who is substantially larger, so it is important to experience this (as safely as possible) for the purpose of learning what it is like, what works, and what does not. Techniques that work fine in sport and against someone of comparable size often have little effect against someone much larger and stronger.
The second reason is psychological/emotional. Many women who are taking self defense are doing so as a result of an assault. To be working side-by-side with men who are acting aggressive can cause some emotional issues right in the middle of class. But, again, it doesn't do much good to practice self defense against someone who isn't anything like the person who might attack you. When learning self defense, women should be fighting against men, and men who are larger and stronger than they are. Otherwise, they may find that the techniques they learned and practiced against their compliant, same-sized female training partners are ineffective against a large male. This isn't something that you want to learn "in the field."
Some argue that women have different self defense issues. It is true that women are predominantly the victims of one kind of assault: Sexual assault. But like simple assault, robbery and murder, these usually happen according to one of two patterns:
- The attacker displays a weapon and orders the victim to comply. The victim complies.
- The attacker assaults the victim, overpowering him (or her), or beating him to the point of compliance.
It doesn't matter whether the victim is a man or a woman. The defensive tactics employed are going to be similar. The attacker may have different specific goals, but he will have the same vulnerabilities, the same advantages, etc.
Think of it this way. If someone is attempting to carjack you, break into your home, or assault you personally, your gender is not the issue. The issue is the attacker's advantages, vulnerabilities, and your ability (or lack thereof) to fight him off or escape.
We welcome comments, questions and suggestions for improvement.
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