Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Black Belt Daze

Our new black belt taught most of the class last night - self defense moves. I liked a lot of what he showed us. He tends to the quick, easy, and vicious. Though I do keep looking for moves that would have been useful in the only self-defense situations I've ever been in, which would need to be considerably less damaging.

That's something I've wanted to address in self-defense classes for a while, but I haven't sorted out how to go about it yet. Most self-defense is geared toward the guy who's trying to kill you (and has a good chance of succeeding. Yet relatively few women end up in that sort of life-or-death situation. The only woman I've taught self-defense to who has used anything I taught, used it on her husband to get out of a humiliating, but not at all deadly situation. Fortunately, our class had included a non-lethal response to the particular pin he had her in.

In my case, the only time someone ever tried to kill me, he was 80+ years old, and utterly incapable of doing me serious harm. Really. I stood there and let him choke me until he got tired, and sustained no physical injury. But I didn't want to stand there and let him choke me - I simply knew no way to break a choke hold that wouldn't have also broken him (I had my back to a wall, so I couldn't have backed out.). I was seriously shaken simply by having someone assault me that way, and not having any good way to fight back and make him stop.

I'm still sorting this out in my head, but it seems to boil down to self-defense being largely geared to a maiming response to a possibly lethal stranger, when far more women end up being groped or pinned or otherwise manhandled by people they know, who aren't a lethal danger, and who they do not want to maim. I am learning some of the responses geared more towards controlling the attacker as time goes on, but mostly not from the self-defense classes.

In other news, our one remaining brown belt, L, has been working with sensei privately (he moved over an hour away about a year ago). Sensei announced last week that L will be testing for his black belt August 25th. This will be Sensei's first black belt promotion (yay!), and also means that I won't be his first black belt when I test in another couple of years (double-yay!). L wants to open up his own dojo in his new home town. I wish him all the best on his test, and hope his new dojo is a winner.


Becky said...

So, is every self defense technique taught in your dojo lethal? You have no disabling techniques, only killing techniques?

My perspective is that someone who attacks me intends to harm or kill me. I'm not going to assume that I know my attacker's intentions and I'm not going to sit there and just wait to see how badly he intends to harm me before I react. By then, it will be too late. I will do whatever it takes to defend myself, even if it means breaking an old man's arm. Or leg. Or whatever I need to break to get out of his hold.

PerpetualBeginner said...

Not every responnse we teach is lethal, but most of them are designed to injure the person attacking, whether by breaking a wrist or knee, or dislocating a shoulder. Something to render the attacker unable or unwilling to attack again.

My situation was a bit complicated. I was a personal care attendant, hired to look after this man, who was elderly and easily confused. He was in a new place he didn't recognize and about 2am he decided that I had kidnapped him and was holding him prisoner (which to be honest, I was to some extent because my job was partially to keep him in his room). So he attacked me with full intent to kill me - except that he was to frail to pose any threat at all, and obviously so. Even just prying him off, which I could probably have done, would have hurt him, because he was literally holding himself upright via the hold on my throat. In fact, the same thing happened to the next night's aide, she did pry him off, and he ended up in the hospital with a back injury (and she would have lost her job, had I not already reported on the night before).

With this post fresh in my mind, I hit up sensei with this specific scenario. He suggested a wristlock set up to bring him to his knees in controlled fashion - painful but not injurious unless you apply a lot of pressure.

Rob said...

you may want to learn some submission holds to supplement your training. This will give you more to draw on in terms of non-lethal responses. (traditional Jiu Jitsu or Aikido may be a place to start looking if your school doesn't offer this)