One moment, one technique, one life

We’ve all heard the saying “a little goes a long way.” This is true of both kindness and self-defense.

A recent tragedy in the San Diego area involving 17-year-old Chelsea King has made national news. Chelsea’s body was found on the shore of Lake Hodges, where she had gone jogging on a nearby trail. Authorities have arrested convicted sex offender John Albert Gardner, whose DNA was found on King’s clothing near where police believe she was abducted.

What many people may miss in some of the news accounts is the related story involving 23-year-old Candice Moncayo. She identified Gardner from a mug shot as the man who attacked her weeks before along the same running path where King disappeared.

Moncayo was able to fend off her attacker by elbowing him in the face and running away.
A single elbow shot to the face kept Mancayo from being the victim of a sexual assault and probably saved her life.

We live in a culture that grooms women to become victims. Girls are told to “Be nice, polite, and for goodness sakes, don’t be loud.” Needless to say, expressing anger and fighting are not encouraged. Perpetrators like Gardner count on the fact that when faced with danger, most girls and women will become frozen with fear and easily overpowered. The message to females has been consistent: he’s bigger, he’s stronger, it’s over.

Girls and women need to be taught that we are strong and capable of physically protecting ourselves from someone who is bigger and stronger. But it’s not enough to hear it. In order to effectively counter the messages we have been getting all our lives, women need to experience what our bodies can do. We need to learn physical self-defense skills. We need to train our bodies, minds, and intuition to be our ally in any confrontation.

Short of preventing perpetration of crime, prevention education seems to be the most proactive method of redressing victimization. Ellen Snortland, in her inspiring book, Beauty Bites Beast, uses a wonderful analogy. She states, “What if you heard of a country where six thousand of its citizens drowned every year, and where 500,000 of its citizens came very close to drowning? ‘Damn, why don’t those people learn to swim?’ you would say. We would say that because we don’t have the false idea that some people simply cannot or should not learn to swim.” This is exactly the situation we find ourselves in when it comes to teaching women to protect themselves in a culture where violence against women thrives and women are taught that men are bigger and stronger and therefore, the result of a fight is a foregone conclusion. Women have grown up with the erroneous assumption that we cannot defend ourselves when confronted with violence. This has been proven untrue through research on self-defense programs. Our beliefs about our bodies undermine our strength.

This is where many readers are saying to themselves, “Yeah, I should definitely take a class someday – when I have more time.” And this is where I say to you, “One afternoon of training could save your life.” So email, or better yet, phone a group of friends and tell them that you want to spend a Saturday afternoon with them learning skills that will make a big difference in all of your lives. Not someday. Not later. Take charge and make it happen. The Esteem team is anxious to spend an afternoon with you.

A little elbow goes a long way.

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3 Responses to “One moment, one technique, one life”

  1. Ellen Livingston

    I really liked your blog. Is there anyway we could make it known to the UU congregations.
    How about talking about it at TGIF tonight?

  2. Brieanna Whitfield

    This is exactly why I want to work with you… We all need to learn self defense as a required education… not an after thought course… I’m with you

  3. EnemyoftheDarkside

    This post misses the point to some extent. The problem here is common among men as well as with women. It’s not that we don’t think that we have some weapons that can stop an attacker, because I know that I do. The thing is, it’s a big decision to decide to hit someone who’s bigger than you are who’s acting crazy. Chances are you’ll only get one clean shot, and if that doesn’t work you might have just provoked the big jerk into coming after you with everything he’s got. That’s a scary proposition for any man or women to have to deal with. Although self defense training can even the odds to some degree, it’s certainly not a magic bullet and the fact that these classes seem to give women a false since of confidence is quite disturbing.

    I’ve studied karate and self defense for a number of years. The biggest lesson that I learned from all of it was that I’ll always be vulnerable no matter how hard I trained. No amount of training can change the fact that it only takes one hay-maker to fracture someone’s jaw. The self defense gurus never seem to grasp that simple concept.


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