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!"

Janet12345 Mon 07-Oct-13 06:55:28

I have to agree the whole groin attack thing is a bit of a myth it is far from easy to pull off and even when you do it isn't very effective, it's not like the movies at all. It's better to learn some proper moves like getting out of grips and freeing yourself to get away.

registary Fri 04-Oct-13 01:23:52

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lrosemurray Sun 29-Sep-13 01:08:35

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LurcioLovesFrankie Fri 05-Oct-12 16:41:46

Grimble - I think I have a similar personality. When some teenage boys grabbed my bag on a rural station platform (I was sitting cross-legged on the floor in the sun), my instinctive response was to leap to my feet (lots of practise jumping up from a sitting position in football training) and chase them. Ended in a stand-off at the end of the station, at which point my brain kicked in to say "don't engage physically, you'll lose". My wallet had bounced out half way along the platform and I'd scooped it up, so I shouted "you might as well give the bag back, all it's got in it is a book and some tampons" (it didn't but I figured that mentioning "tampons" to teenage boys might embarrass them sufficiently to get them to drop it). They chucked the bag back and ran off. Afterwards I found myself thinking "that was a fucking stupid thing to do", but it was my instinctive response - like you I'm one of life's risk takers, have been climbing and mountaineering for nearly 30 years. Also had a "fuck that for a game of soldiers" attitude to being socialised into appropriately feminine behaviour.

But it's important to realise that most people aren't like that most of the time, nor is it a particularly good strategy (what if the teenage lads had had a knife).

grimbletart Fri 05-Oct-12 16:28:10

the second is more complicated because of the fact that we're so well trained to be polite and not to make a fuss.

Meant to add Cailin: Yup like all little girls I got that training too. The difference being my attitude was "sod that for a game of soldiers" grin

grimbletart Fri 05-Oct-12 16:26:42

Yes Cailin - I do agree - they are not typical situations and I tried to precede it with a health warning grin

I do believe that whatever works in that situation, works.

I was just trying to balance the slight impression here that one is always helpless with the view that sometimes one isn't.

meditrina and OneChap - I also agree fighting back is a risk. Maybe my daughter and I are natural risk takers grin We were both the sort of kids who spent too much time in A and E after falling off high or fast things and at my ancient age now I'm a bit to old to change personality.

CailinDana Fri 05-Oct-12 16:19:57

Grimble - it's worth remembering that there's a difference between being grabbed on the street by a stranger, and having someone you know slowly push your boundaries until you find yourself trapped. The first situation is a very clear cut "flight or fight" scenario, the second is more complicated because of the fact that we're so well trained to be polite and not to make a fuss.

That said, I am very impressed at the abilities of you and your daughter smile

meditrina Fri 05-Oct-12 16:19:17

'wriggle' sorry - that should be 'struggle'

meditrina Fri 05-Oct-12 16:18:34

Fighting back is a risk. It might be better to throw a mugger your bag and run away than it would be to wriggle to hang on to it.

But these are scenarios and risks that can be discussed in a competent self defence class. It's as much about thinking about the risks, and how you reduce or mitigate risks, as it is about physical defence.

OneMoreChap Fri 05-Oct-12 16:12:56

Mmm.

I remember talking about some techniques like this one here and being called a ninja wannabe.

If you smack a street criminal, you may well be lucky. You may also very easily get knifed.

grimbletart Fri 05-Oct-12 16:03:17

I agree with everyone who says it is not as simple as fighting back, that the odds are against you, that scream, run whatever other reaction - even complying if you think it will save your life - are appropriate.

But could I just say that though fighting back won't necessarily save you, and could leave you worse off or dead, sometimes it can.

Two personal experiences: first I was attacked in the tube subway while I was hurrying for the last train - arm put round my throat. I used the little finger technique to snap him away (whether or not I broke his finger I don't know and I don't care - I hope I did). When he let go I slammed him up against the wall and clouted him round the head with my laptop bag. He ran away.

Second time I was grabbed from behind on the tube escalator - again hurrying for the last train - that time I used an elbow in his throat and send him back to the bottom of the escalator. Reported it to a guard but the guy had gone. I agree that is not a particularly good example as by being on the escalator he was already off balance.

Third happened to my daughter on her Asian travels. Man broke into her bedroom and tried to rape her. She threw him bodily over the balcony. Unfortunately it was only on the first floor so he only (apparently) broke his arm. Pity it wasn't the 4th floor. I should say she is just over 5ft and 8stone soaking wet. When I asked her how she managed to do it she said it was her self defence/marital arts training plus as she "Wanker - I was bloody mad - how dare he?"

OK, maybe we were lucky on all three occasions and our situations were untypical, but both of us, and my other daughter, set out to take confidence from physical strength and training and - most important of all - don't ever feel you have to be polite. Bugger being socialised. If your guts tell you he's a rum un, go with your guts.

The other common factor I think was the element of surprise. These wankers think they are home and dry with some feeble woman - they are not ready for someone who will go for it and not give a damn if she half kills them.

I don't expect posters to agree with me, but there you go: I can only speak of our personal experiences.

OneHandFlapping Fri 05-Oct-12 15:45:25

I always used to wonder why women didn't fight back when they were raped. I'm better educated now, but it's a rape myth because so many people believe it.

CailinDana Fri 05-Oct-12 15:38:58

Fair enough Three. Sorry for being harsh. FWIW every survivor wishes they fought back, or did something different as I'm sure you know.

I think martial arts etc are great, but I don't agree it should be taught in schools because I don't agree that women should change their behaviour or do an activity that they don't necessarily want to do (doing MA or SD would be my idea of pure hell) to protect themselves. When it comes to it, rapists use a whole arsenal of manipulation to get what they want and MA or SD often aren't useful anyway. Men are the ones who rape, if any group need to change their behaviour, it's them. Yet, if anyone suggested something like "all men should do such and such to prevent rape" there would be an outcry. I will not accept double standards especially ones that put the onus on women to prevent something that they are not responsible for.

ThreeEdgedSword Fri 05-Oct-12 15:31:32

It was a blurted out comment, which I apologised for. And I did state that she said she wished she had fought back. I do not think it was the right thing to say, and considering my own experience I feel bloody stupid for saying it.

Am currently waiting for her to call me to pick her up from the police station. Clearly she isn't angry at me. After the initial flippant/shocked comment, I have been as supportive as I can.

Don't we all say stupid things, even sometimes in horrific situations? At least I don't think she deserved it or asked for it. That would make me a disgusting excuse for a human being.

CailinDana Fri 05-Oct-12 15:21:44

I was going to write a measured response but I can't.

You should be absolutely ashamed of yourself OP that you asked a person who had just been raped why she didn't fight back. What do you think the answer could be? That she wanted to be raped? That she was too lazy or stupid to fight back? Maybe she didn't fight back because she couldn't perhaps? I mean why else wouldn't you fight back? Really, I'm asking, because I'd love to hear the answer.

LurcioLovesFrankie Fri 05-Oct-12 14:53:19

Three-edged - my comment wasn't directed at you, it was meant to be a summary of the blog (which is discussing the whole issue of victim blaming, in the context of society as a whole investing a lot in expecting certain behaviours from women as a group, then blaming them when exactly those behaviours leave them open to exploitation).

Though, in response to your original post, if I were you (I realise you may handle it differently) having blurted out "why on earth didn't you fight back?", once I'd realised that in fact freezing is a very common reflex response to attack, I'd probably want to apologise for being so insensitive next time I spoke to my friend. (And I have been in the situation of supporting a friend who'd been raped - I spent a month or so of my first year at university sleeping on a friend's floor so there'd be someone there for her when she woke up with nightmares).

ThreeEdgedSword Fri 05-Oct-12 14:38:19

That looks really good, thank you smile

I do agree that MA as a fighting style is nigh on useless if somebody attacks you, I included it more along the lines of respect and confidence, prevention is better than cure etc. After all, if everyone had proper respect for each other, there would be no crime.

Ah, to live in a perfect world...

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?

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 14:34:59

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.

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

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

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 14:21:57

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 14:17:33

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

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.

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