These tips I learned in my self-defense classes with Esteem have gotten me through many difficult situations in my life. The funny thing is, they don’t just apply to situations in which my personal safety is threatened. They are guidelines for how to walk through the world with less fear and more confidence.
Turn your fear into anger into action.
In order to do something about what scares us, we must act. Fear is a kind of energy. It’s a strong enough energy that it can completely disable us and grind all of our strength and power to dust. Getting angry about what you fear is the first step toward taking action against your oppressor. Recognize your fear, get angry about it, and take action to turn it into anger. Speak up and fight back.
Don’t focus on what your opponent is going to do, focus on what you’re going to do.
When being assaulted, women tend to lose focus and only think about what the assailant’s next move will be (“What’s he going to do to me?”) In a self-defense class, we learn to not focus on what our opponent is going to do, but to focus on what we are going to do to. This is what Esteem calls a “fighting mentality.” With this idea in mind, we can stay focused on our goals and stand up for what is right with confidence and a plan of action.
Don’t focus on what you don’t have, focus on what you have within your reach.
When speaking truth to power, it is important that we confidently use our voices to convey our message effectively. Research indicates that in a self-defense class adding a strong “No!” to a strike increases the power of the strike 30-40%. Also: Remember to breathe. Your breath is connected to your body and your mind, and breathing will get oxygen to your brain and help you think rationally.
Get your feet in the fight.
Women’s center of gravity is lower than men’s. While men tend to fight with their arms, most women never realize that the most power and strength comes from their hips. Getting your feet in the fight leads to knockout blows because that is where the real strength lies in a woman’s body: our hips (love your hips!). But getting your feet in the fight means more than just dropping to the ground and kicking someone who is trying to assault you physically.
Tavis Smiley, host and managing editor of Tavis Smiley on PBS, and author of My Journey With Maya said, “Speaking truth to power means comforting the afflicted, and afflicting the comfortable.” To truly embody this ideal, your presence in the fight is required.
Remember you’re not alone.
We’re not alone and neither are any of our brothers and sisters who are fighting injustice with us. Lauren always reminds her students that if they are survivors of any kind of assault, they are not alone and should not carry any sense of shame. Find ways to empower one another this weekend by taking part in the Women’s March on Washington tomorrow. They are all across the globe – it’s perfect timing to get your feet in the fight!