Monday, February 18, 2019

So I Better Behave Then

“So what do you do?”
“I teach self-defense.”

More often than not, upon hearing our answer to a seemingly innocuous question about
our career path, people respond by making fists and mimicking boxing motions, which
are sometimes accompanied by an uncomfortable laugh.

Every profession sparks its fair share of comments, questions, and stereotypes.

In the case of self-defense, especially for women, the picture most people have in their
heads is of a male martial artist or police officer training a much smaller woman.

That may be true in some cases, but that’s not what empowerment self-defense looks
like. And the misconception can lead to some pretty interesting (and sometimes
maddening) conversations.

We recently polled a group of ESD practitioners and asked them about the most
common responses to finding out what we do.

Here are the top 10 responses:

10. Oh. So what martial art do you teach?

Our response:

“Traditional martial arts were designed by men, for men’s bodies, for the way
men fight. ESD was designed by women, for women and is based on the
strengths of women's bodies against the weaknesses of the male body.
In empowerment self-defense classes, women learn verbal and mental

Some of us do teach at least one martial art. But we take the difference between
the two forms of self-defense very seriously.

9. Why don’t you just buy pepper spray? Or download an app? Or carry a big
bag you can hit people with?

Our response:

ESD Global’s president and founder, Yehudit Zicklin Sidikman, came up with what
she refers to as the “shower test:”

“If I don’t take it with me into the shower, it can’t be my primary prevention protocol.”

She also likes to tell people that:

“Unless a ninja pops out of my phone and fights a battle for me right there and then,
I have to put my trust in myself.”

ESD training empowers women to put their trust into their own bodies and not rely
on phones that can go down to once percent battery power or gadgets they might
not always have with them.

8. Women shouldn’t have to take self-defense. It’s victim blaming.

Our response:

“We shouldn’t have to. But we believe in taking responsibility for our own safety.
We take swimming lessons so we can be safe in and around water. We wear
seatbelts to protect ourselves from other drivers.”

We believe strongly that a victim is never responsible for the choices of the person
who initiated violence.

However, we also believe that ESD training provides us with tools for stopping
violence in its tracks.

7. Really? What does your husband think about that?

Our response:


There’s really no way to dignify that with a response. We shut that conversation
down immediately.

6. But you’re so small / nice / feminine.

Our response:

“Everyone is capable of defending themselves. Everyone has a right to
defend themselves.”

And then, under our breath, we might mumble:

“Go ahead. Underestimate me. That’ll be fun,”

Personality, size, etc. has nothing to do with our ability to defend ourselves.
It’s also important to note that ESD techniques can be easily adapted to meet
people’s individual needs.

5. I know all about that. That kind of training doesn’t work because. . .

Our response:

“Actually, empowerment self-defense is the most researched and most proven
violence prevention intervention that exists.”

It’s true. And every day, we see how ESD benefits the women we teach.

4. I can show you what really works.

Our response:

“No thanks. I’m fine.”

Why waste our breath telling them about our years of education, training,
and experience?

3. I could never do any of that.

Our response:

“Yes, you COULD!!!”

We believe that we all have an inner lioness within us who is ready and
able to help us defend ourselves.

As empowerment self-defense instructors, our job is to help women discover
and connect with the strength and power that’s already within them.

2. I wouldn’t want to meet you in a dark alley.

Our response:

Sensei Wendi Dragonfire has figured this one out.

She responds with:

You would be lucky to meet up with me in a dark alley as I would
be helping you.”

1. So you could kick my ass? I’d better behave, then!

Our response:

“You should behave anyway.”

Enough said.

* What comments and questions have you had to deal with as an
empowerment self-defense practitioner?

ESD Global Staff

"So I Better Behave Then and Other Responses to Our Career Choice." Originally posted February 7, 2019 on ESD Global. Reprinted here with permission. Check out the original for additional photos and video.

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