Tuesday, April 17, 2012

An Introduction to the Innocent Warriors

The Introduction below comes directly from our custom Innocent Warriors© Six part Women's Self Defense Seminar Series currently running each Saturday in succession...

The Criminal Mind…  It's about selfishness ... the different manifestations of criminal behavior is just a matter of style. Stanton Samenow, PhD

Welcome to Innocent Warriors©. You should know at the outset that people (guys as well as ladies) who are threatened and fight back "in self defense" can actually risk making a situation worse, either with too little or excessive force. The attacker with little to lose, who is already edgy and pumped up on adrenaline — and who knows what else — may become even more angry and violent. So then why take this course? Because you have a right to stop someone from hurting you under any circumstances, but to do it successfully, you must be prepared.

The best time to avoid a potential attack is before it happens, trusting in your instincts. We call this situational awareness. Your intuition, combined with your common sense, can help get you out of trouble, even before you get into it. We will discuss the differences between distinct situations and levels of aggression, what to expect if you find yourself in one and how to be best prepared to react. Attackers aren't always strangers who jump out of dark alleys. The majority of violent attacks are made by a prior acquaintance, a person minding their own business could be assaulted by someone under the influence, and given the wrong situation anyone can be attacked by a neighbor or spouse. That's where important self defense skills called negotiation and de-escalation come into play.

De-escalating a situation means speaking or acting in a way in attempt to calm the situation down and/or prevent things from getting worse. The classic example of de-escalation is giving a robber your money rather than trying to argue, fight or run. Negotiation is the communication part of de-escalation. For example, if someone harasses you when there's no one else around, you can de-escalate things by agreeing with him or her. You don't have to actually believe the attacker or even your own words of course, you're just “negotiating” to get yourself out of a tight spot.

Something as simple as not losing your temper is extremely important in every situation. Learning how to manage your own anger or fear effectively and just as significant, learning how to listen is an important precursor to dealing with a violent incident. Even when negotiations break down, it can only help matters if you remain calm and don't give the would-be attacker any extra ammunition. However, when reason fails and you are in danger, you must be prepared and react without hesitation or inhibition. That is, prepared mentally as well as physically to do what you have to.

Being physically fit is important throughout all aspects of your life, and is especially true in matters of self defense. Being out of shape and/or over weight can make you lethargic, slowing down your reaction time which can affect your level of confidence in everything you do. When it comes to self defense, the importance of confidence in what you know and clear thinking cannot be overstated.

You should know that this course cannot teach you how to be a martial artist nor get you in shape to outrun an attacker. But as you will see, having a clearer understanding of why and how situations requiring self defensive actions occur may help you in avoiding them altogether. Throughout each session we will examine the psychology behind distinct violent and/or dangerous situations. We will focus not on winning a fight but on knowing your options for and creating an opportunity to control and escape each situation.


Rousing the Female Warrior Spirit

My wife Meghan and I follow many self defense blogs and are active in several self defense groups. In these forums there is always great discussion on how best to prepare women for violent situations. Because we emphasize self defense throughout our programs in our school and teach the Innocent Warriors women's self defense seminar series, it seemed reasonable to put some information and thoughts on women’s self defense out there for people who are interested in knowing more.

Though this has been changing for the better in recent years, women throughout history have been raised to behave quietly, dress modestly, don’t go out alone and stay away from strangers.  Put in our terms, avoidance training.  So then it follows that they continue to be preyed on by those who have been brought up learning offensive and defensive posturing, violence and fighting.  Men mostly.  So then many adult women find themselves suppressed by men and think taking a self defense class is going to help. Unfortunately, being preyed upon will not stop because you learned a new way to hurt someone. This prelude to violence can only be intercepted by going back and re-program yourself. That is the main goal of Innocent Warriors.

Surprisingly there are a great many women in our society that wish to maintain a more subservient attitude toward males. This is the real issue with how we raise the female segment of our society. Because many parents must buck centuries of tradition in raising a girl to be and act equal to men.  Think about this sentence, “I just bought Bobbie a new 22 rifle and we’re going to go out practice shooting today.” I’ll bet you that most people that read that sentence automatically assumed that Bobbie is a boy.

There exists a deep, instinctive survival force within each of us, both male and female, but as stated above the male has been allowed to feel it, exercise and nurture it, while the females have been trained to suppress it. A mother will run out into traffic to save her child without thought, hesitation or fear of her own life because society accepts that natural protection instinct. Yet a women’s own self-protection is viewed by many as wrong or simply incapable.
Society makes such claims as;

·         Women should be soft and cuddly and let men protect them
·         Women that are tough are somehow less attractive
·         Women don’t have the strength to really protect themselves against stronger males
Given I am married to a martial artist, (and anyone who knows Meghan will tell you) it doesn’t have to be that way. To meet her on the street it would not be obvious with her small frame that she could take down and submit a much larger male(s) in a matter of seconds. She doesn’t need males to protect her any more than other males do, she IS tough AND attractive all at the same time and although in excellent physical condition, she’s still much smaller than most male adversaries yet surprisingly effective against them.

I know that your first response to this may be that Meghan has dedicated her life to martial arts, something not every woman can do. Though she has spent 12+ years in the martial arts field, that is not totally why she is effective.  She is effective because she has trained her mind, reprogramming it to be OK with violence and fighting.  That’s not to say that she in any way promotes violence, she does not. But there is a place inside each of us, men and women alike that must be at peace with the reality that a violent situation may at some point find us and being prepared mentally is the precursor to getting out of it.

The fact is, violence, fighting and bad guys are all around you, right this minute while you read this.  It’s not being paranoid walking through life with this assessment of your surroundings. . You may be one of the lucky ones that manage to go through their entire life avoiding violence, but from my experiences in self defense you would be in a vast minority.

Go back to running out in the street to save your child for a moment. If you would put your life on the line for your child, why shouldn’t you think the same way about yourself? So here is some training you can do right from your chair. Mentally plan for violence. Don’t worry about WHAT you will do if someone were to attack you, rather think about being prepared to do whatever you can with all of your life force to get yourself out of the situation.

It has been my experience that women can be far more courageous than most men and especially most bad guys. If bad guys started to get the feeling that more women were prepared for an attack, there would be a whole lot less bad guys, because unlike women, most of them cannot be that brave; their motives are centered in selfishness only.  If you can look within yourself for that spirit and find it, you will begin to carry yourself differently. You will stand tall and walk proud, be more aware of your surroundings. Your senses will be heightened and you will have an air of confidence and other people will notice that difference.

This latter point is very important because for the most part bad guys prey on the meek. If you can deprogram yourself of your avoidance training and mentally prepare yourself for conflict, chances are far better that you will actually avoid it because the bad guys will look for easier prey. Now then from this frame of mind can you begin to investigate self defense and/or martial arts to learn WHAT to do if you are attacked. Techniques that when wielded by a warrior spirit will be far more effective than when attempted by someone who has been trained throughout her life to submit.

Self Defense classes are not all the same, nor are the instructors that teach them. Meghan is not only my wife but my friend and training partner as well. Her perspective is uniquely female, her attitude wonderfully positive and her force is not to be reckoned with. I cannot think of a better person to guide you on your self-defense journey.

Be safe,

Dave Ventura,
3rd Dan Hapkido Instructor

Co-Creator, Innocent Warriors©
Phoenix Dragon Martial Arts