Self-defence and martial arts SHOULD be taught in schools. (Long)

(42 Posts)
ThreeEdgedSword Fri 05-Oct-12 11:12:01

It may be a little early for this, but I didn't want to wait till later...

I have just finished a phone call with a friend who was sobbing her heart out, telling me she was raped last night. She had been dancing with a friend of a friend, they all went back to someone's house, and he forced himself on her. I duly told her to report him to the police (before going home and showering, yucky as it sounds, to preserve physical evidence).

She repeatedly told him no, but he apparently responded with comments such as "you know you want to". At this point my nasty insensitivity kicked in (thank goodness she's a very good friend, who understands me!) and I asked her...

"Why on Earth didn't you fight back?"

She responded by saying he was a lot stronger than her and she didn't want to wake the rest of the house by screaming. I understand not wanting to cause a fuss, but surely in cases of rape it's ok? I would be horrified if somebody was raped in my living room and they didn't wake me by screaming.

I fully understand her concerns as a similar thing happened to me in my teens. In my case he forced me to the point where he was inside me shudders then told me not to say no because "that makes this rape" hmm. I just accepted this and tried to forget about it afterwards. But I did decide to take up martial arts again.

Years later, a man attacked me on a night out. He tried to pin me up against a wall. Reflexes and muscle memory took over, and this encounter ended with him carted off by the police with a broken nose, while I continued with my night, albeit a little shakily. Without the training I received, this encounter could have ended very differently.

My point is that, while martial arts classes are freely available, they are something you choose to do or not do. I fully believe children, both male and female, should learn self defence and martial arts as a matter of course so that these situations are, if not eliminated, at least reduced. And women should remember that, as male friends (!) are fond of saying, "kick them in the stones and they'll drop like any other fucker!"

OneMoreChap Fri 05-Oct-12 11:59:45

I really, really approve of martial arts classes. For everyone, as it happens.

It gives you a great deal of enjoyment and personal confidence.

Don't think it will make you safe from rape. It won't.

Some people (me included) think that your own self confidence can make you a less likely victim, as will situational awareness. I believe I should say possible triggers in the link I quote See www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/rape.html for some suggestions - no, not blaming victims I'd add.

If you are going to do SD classes - I'd suggest if there's any chance of working with a "red man" suit. It will let you full force strike, but make it really, really clear what male strength is like. I'm an old unfit bloke, but as far as upper body strength goes it's huge compared to most women.

As far as "kicking 'em in the stones" - nice in theory. Men know it hurts and are quite smart about protecting them... I'd suggest a fist or knee rather than a kick, FWIW, as if someone grabs your foot... possibly game over.

You might be able to stop a man pinning you, but if he chucks you across an alley a couple of times you'll slow up.

AGoldenOrange Fri 05-Oct-12 12:03:30

You asked a rape victim why didn't she fight back? Really?

meditrina Fri 05-Oct-12 12:08:06

There are violent crimes other than rape.

I think situation awareness and self defence are important things for all our DCs to learn. My DCs have done junior martial arts programmes, and I think what it taught them is valuable (also in terms of general bodily confidence).

Nothing can guarantee you will not become a victim of a crime. But I do agree that getting DCs to take the time to think about risks and whether they can be reduced/managed/mitigated is important.

CaseyShraeger Fri 05-Oct-12 12:17:23

I approve of martial arts classes. My Dcs do martial arts. But surely if you train everyone, both male and female, in martial arts as a matter of course then situations such as the one in which your friend found herself will still come down to a bigger, stronger, heavier man against a smaller, weaker, lighter woman? Just this time both of them would know some martial arts rather than both of them knowing none?

Self-defence is a separate issue to an extent; that's more about incapacitating the attacker for long enough to give yourself time to run. BTW, when we had a self-defence class at school we were specifically told NOT to try to "kick them in the stones" because it puts you dangerously off balance and it's far easier for the attacker to grab your leg and tip you over onto the groubd than it is for you to connect with the target. Far more effective to stamp on foot or (if you can reach) go for eyes or underside of nose.

I do hope she's still a very good friend after you asked her something so crass at a time of crisis. You should do some serious grovelling.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 05-Oct-12 12:20:15

OMC thank you for that thoughtful post.

OP the "not make any sound" reflex is quite a common one, regardless of relative strengths etc. a man who had already dehumanised you to the extent that he has penetrated you when he knows you do not want it could well have dehumanised you to the extent that punching, kicking, smothering you etc would be no great leap further.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 05-Oct-12 12:22:51

PS OP I am sorry you were raped when you were younger. You and your friend might both like to call Rape Crisis to talk through your experiences.

OneMoreChap Fri 05-Oct-12 12:32:01

CaseyShraeger as you say, SD is very different from MA.

Possibly something like modern combatives or possibly silat would be a better choice than a trad martial art. Krav Maga would be an interesting approach, if you can find classes.

The only problem is unless you put in a lot of practice you won't get good at it.

ThreeEdgedSword Fri 05-Oct-12 12:38:30

I shall pass on the info about Rape Crisis to my friend. As for me, well, this is the first time I've spoken about it in years. It's dead and buried. And I plan to leave it that way.

Another point I'd like to make is that martial arts helps a lot with confidence, respect and discipline, both in yourself and towards others. These are at the core of most eastern martial arts. So perhaps, in teaching them, instances of violence in general would be reduced? I know it wouldn't eliminate it completely, but it might help?

After all, doesn't any type of violent crime indicate lack of respect for the victim from the one who commits the crime?

It's interesting to see the opinions of others on this subject, I understand that rape and violence can be very personal issues, so I thank you all for your honesty and sincerely apologise if anything in my OP offended anyone. Everyone has different reactions to these situations, and I did not mean to be insensitive, I was simply expressing my opinion.

FWIW, my friend wishes she had been brave enough to fight back. I wish she had. I wish I had been there to help her. I wish it had never happened to her. All I can do now is be there to help her through it.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 05-Oct-12 13:20:50

YY Casey. The first thing we did at the start of every self defence clas was sprint up and down the gym - we were taught over and over that your first form of defence is to run, and your next form is to do enough to get free and then run.

Your friend might regret not fighting back because she feels it would have given her a bit more 'agency' but honestly it might not have made a difference and could have made her injuries worse. I hope that the police are supportive to her.

Remember that in your friend's case, her attacker had selected her, danced with her, made sure they were going back to the same house - effectively cornered her. He had already 'befriended' her and made it hard for her to leave, whereas in your case a street attack out of the blue might have meant your 'fight' instincts were more predominant. Just a thought.

ThreeEdgedSword Fri 05-Oct-12 13:30:57

Doctrine I think you might be right, it is a very different situation.

On a side note, coming to mind on your comment about running, please ladies, if you must lose your nice/expensive/new shoes because you can't run in heels, do it. Town centres can have some horrible examples of girls who don't run because of this basic piece of common sense.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 05-Oct-12 13:34:48

TES, another difficulty is that, just as most men are stronger than most women, most men can run faster as well. Heels could exacerbate this but won't be the only factor. I think Sheila Jeffries talks about heels and their constricting effect in Beauty and Misoygny.

ProphetOfDoom Fri 05-Oct-12 13:46:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LurcioLovesFrankie Fri 05-Oct-12 13:49:17

I did a bit of tae kwondo and remember the instructor asking us early on in the course (after asking how many were there because they saw it as an aid to self defence) "what do you think would happen if someone threw a punch at me as I was walking down the street?" More experienced members pitched in with "such-and-such a block", "so-and-so counterpunch", etc. The instructor said "actually, no, I'd end up with a broken nose, just like you would, because in normal social circumstances you just don't expect that to happen to you". He was very keen on instilling in us the idea that MA aren't a simple fix to dangerous situations, and also that running should be your first response.

Also agree that freezing is a common reflex response to a scary situation.

But remember, most rapes aren't stranger-in-a-dark alley. We also need to think about social cues, because most rapes take place in social situations, where the rapist has befriended the victim and manipulated our natural social instincts to be conciliatory with people to get the victim alone (having first set up a situation where it looks to witnesses like the couple are getting on great, so that when he moves on to an attack in private there will be witnesses to say "well it looked like it was headed somewhere consensual"). Someone posted a great link a while back to a blog which was essentially about how society puts great store by socialising women to be conciliatory, nice, cooperative, not to make a fuss, then turns on them and rips them to shreds for not fighting back when some arsehole uses that socialisation as the background against which to rape in the knowledge that he'll then get away with it. If you know of the link, please post, 'cos I didn't bookmark it!

OneHandFlapping Fri 05-Oct-12 13:49:38

I agree that women should be encouraged to do martial arts. I train regularly, and men outnumber women by about 5 or 6 to one - and I think our club is unusual in having so many women.

Women should feel they do have the right to be strong, fit, fighters.

However, what OneMoreChap said about the strength difference is true. After five years of training, my only hope against a taller, stronger opponent would be surprise - and getting in a devastating technique to a weak point before he could react. If he got a chance to retaliate, I'd be done for.

meditrina Fri 05-Oct-12 14:02:45

One bit I appreciated in my DCs martial arts class was the instructor telling them: never try to fight an assailant - a child cannot win a fight against teens, let alone adults, as RL is not the movies. All you can do is buy the time to run away; screaming and shouting is OK and don't get drawn into talking to people who approach you; move away or run away. The instructor said that he might be able to win a fight, and added extremely clearly that he'd been training and fighting competitively for 30 years and was a tall man but he wouldn't try to fight either. He'd be following his own advice, and would aim to surprise the assailant then run.

Uppercut Fri 05-Oct-12 14:15:17

A police officer once told my sister that balling your fist around your house keys such that the keys stick out between your fingers (like a spiked knuckle duster) would be highly effective. He did caution against its use though in anything other than extreme circumstances; proving that it was appropriate to pop someone's eye out with your housekeys is paramount if you wish to avoid going to jail.

KRITIQ Fri 05-Oct-12 14:15:55

I think martial arts can be beneficial to children and young people generally because it involves focus, discipline, physical fitness, commitment, responsibility and can help build confidence. It's also a chance to make new friends, get involved in displays and competitions, even opportunities for leadership. All those things can contribute to well-being and help build a young person's resilience.

But, it should never be considered as a reliable method of self-defence. For starters, even people well-trained in self-defence methods can freeze in a situation where they are attacked and have no opportunity to put the skills into place. One never knows how they will react to a situation like that. Also, an assailant could have a weapon or catch someone by surprise, already having the upper hand so these skills will won't help. There's also a risk that it gives a false sense of security - "I'm trained in self-defence, nothing will happen to me." And, if something DOES happen, you could feel even works because you THINK you should have been able to prevent the attack.

Most sexual assaults (of men or women) are carried out by people known to the person, often in situations where self-defence techniques probably wouldn't help, even if you were able to use them.

I think it's a great idea to have martial arts training, but not for the purpose of "preventing" rape. Sadly, that's not something within the powers of the potential victim.

ThreeEdgedSword Fri 05-Oct-12 14:17:33

Lurcio I try not to "rip people to shreds" if they don't fight back, it is simply my first reaction (now, anyway). But then I also don't believe a woman should feel like they can't make a fuss or must be nice and agreeable. I do happen to come from a family of strong, no-nonsense female role models smile

OneMoreChap Fri 05-Oct-12 14:21:57

That's the thing I liked - well, one of them - about nononsensenseselfdefense; it's not all about blows and strikes lots of sensible stuff. Including signs about behaviours that should give you concern... from the man who wants to date you, even.

ThreeEdgedSword Fri 05-Oct-12 14:26:51

OneMoreChap do you have a link to that? Sounds like it would be something useful to have around, as well as interesting to see if it's anything we know or didn't realise!

OneMoreChap Fri 05-Oct-12 14:30:46

It's a really complicated link. grin
Trigger warnings, yadayada www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/

chibi Fri 05-Oct-12 14:34:59

hoo boy i typed out a long post which didn't register so i will try again with a shorter version.

asking someone who's just been raped why they didn't make it stop, or fight back is shitty behaviour that fails to meet the minimum standard of human decency.

CaseyShraeger Fri 05-Oct-12 14:36:35

Uppercut, the nuns at school taught my mother that trick with the keys!

chibi Fri 05-Oct-12 14:38:17

what about when the person who grabs you is armed? when they say do what i'll say or i'll kill you? when you fight back and they overpower you?

has it never occurred to you that some women don't fight back because they reckon it is the best strategy at that time which will allow them to live through it?

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