Experience with self-defense is a must-have for college students who are at risk of suffering physical and sexual assault, and this is especially true for women. You need to know that. When I teach self-defense seminars for sororities and ask how many of the women attending personally know someone who has been assaulted, something scary happens. Firstly, a lot of hands go up. Then the younger ladies who are new to school ask the people near them, “Really?” and often the answer is “Yes. I was. You know me, and now you know I was assaulted, so raise your hand.” Within seconds, almost every hand in the group is up and it doesn’t matter if the group is 10 students or 500. I ask them to keep their hands raised and look around so that they get the point. After this, groups are very ready to learn what I have to teach and so I wrote “Immediate Self-Defense”.
Experience with self-defense
Most people who teach self-defense get the whole thing wrong, unfortunately. Self-defense is largely taught by martial arts experts or law enforcement professionals who have hundreds or thousands of hours applying their skills. Their reflexes are developed and ready in a completely different way to the average person. The skills they use have no resemblance to what the average person is capable of in a real life or death confrontation. If they try to teach you self-defense techniques they would personally use and you don’t have their level of experience, it will almost certainly fail for you. While they might have good intentions, it is effective self-defense that matters in the end. For instance, if a self-defense class focuses on a lot of complicated memorization, or expects you to identify thumb positions when being grabbed so you know which direction to pull away, these things will not work for you without a high level of experience.
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What’s worse, is if you are instructed to carry some kind of weapon, but have little practice in using it. There’s simply no way that you will be able to bring it into a dangerous situation and use it—without a lot of practice—under stress. The problem lies with adrenaline and heart rate. When a person experience’s an adrenaline dump, there are various possible consequences that are discussed in-depth in my book, Immediate Self Defense.
Rather than restate them, read this segment from “Immediate Self-Defense” (chapter two, page 13) on Stress Responses & Adrenaline:
“The body has certain predictable responses to stressful situations. If you think about it, I know you are familiar with them already, even if you’ve never had to defend yourself. Have you ever had to speak publicly? That is a huge stressor for a lot of people. Ever experienced road rage? How about been in a car accident? Or had a heated argument with someone?
If you’ve experienced anything like these, you have felt at least some of the effects I’m about to describe firsthand, so I know you can relate. Common effects of an adrenaline dump include: heart-rate and respiratory changes, tunnel vision, loss of hearing, inability to take in and process new information, no fine motor skills, time dilation (moving fast, moving slow, inconsistent), increased speed and strength, loss of touch sensitivity including increased pain tolerance, unconscious movements or freezing, short term memory loss including non-formation of memory, no depth perception, and the list goes on.”
What would you do if your life or safety were threatened? How would you react? Are you confident that you would fight back and survive? Should you fight back? What’s the best response? If something happens, how do I report it? What is that process like? Should I report it? What if my report isn’t taken seriously? What is title IX? What is wrong with a person who would attack someone else? Can I really ever be safe? Am I really at risk? Why can’t I get a clear answer to any of my questions?
“Immediate Self-Defense” was written as if a companion to in-person seminars for myself and every other self-defense teacher. I explore and discuss all of the answers to all of these questions about self-defense and more.