This weekend I had the pleasure of attending a self-defense workshop as part of the Bucks County Day for All Women. It was the final session of the day and while I had taken a self-defense class many moons ago I figured it was a good opportunity for Kim & I to learn something new. With all the traveling, hiking, biking, and other things we do, sometimes solo, I figure the more I can learn and assimilate over time, the betteroff I’ll be should the unthinkable happen.
What stuck me most (even though I already knew this concept) was the immediate and strong focus on the importance of presence. Our instructor Mr. Dorrell drove home the point that how you appear to others can often be the #1 determining factor on whether or not an attacker will pick you. Now, while I always knew the whole appear confident, be aware of your surroundings, keep your hands free, and don’t look like a victim advice, it really hit home for me. As he showed us two power stances used in karate, it clearly demonstrated the difference a simple way of standing can have on another person’s perception of you. In fact the co-instructor for our session was a young woman with a petite stature. Of course she was a black belt so no one is going to mess with her, but it wasn’t that fact nearly as much as her presence that communicated that message. It was at that moment that the bells went off in my head — there is indeed a connection between what I do — helping others learn how to be comfortable in their own skin and actual physical safety. How’s that you say?
When you are more comfortable in your own skin, you are more confident, more aware, and have a stronger personal presence. Yes, even if you are shy and reserved and that is your authentic nature, you still become more solid as you embrace who you are and being in your skin fully. That shows up in how you hold your body, how you walk, and an overall more solid physical presence. Exactly the attributes this instructor was tying directly to a decreased possibility of being chosen as a victim by an attacker.
The other tie-in I see is that if you are aware and naturally curious (as comfortable in your skin folks are) you tend to seek out opportunities to learn. You are much more likely to seek out and actually attend a session like this one I attended. Why? You like to stretch yourself and know how to handle yourself in all situations.
After this initial illustration of the power of presence, the workshop continued and taught us a jam packed 90 minutes worth of techniques to use in the unfortunate event of being attacked. All were well grounded in the philosophy that the goal of self-defense is to get away, not to confront or stay and fight. After all in an emergency situation like being attacked your only goal is to protect yourself, get safe, and live to see another day. While I could wax on about the joy of getting to actually practice these techniques (nothing like kicking a bag for the first time to incite my jollies), the fact remains that we actually got to have our bodies engage and practice what we learned. Muscle memory is everything and quite frankly Kim & I plan on doing a few practice sessions here and there at home so we can “remember” what we learned if faced with a high adrenaline situation. If you ever get the chance to do such a session or even a more advanced one (which I’d love to do) I’d highly recommend it. Just ensure the instructors’ philosophy matches your own and he/she knows what they are talking about in terms of practical, real-world advice.
What stuck with me most from this afternoon though is that everything — success, happiness, and even safety — ALWAYS begins with us and how we are showing up to ourselves and the world and just how important living comfortable in your own skin can really be.