Self-defence and Its Importance for Women in India
June 23, 2015
by Tejaswi Shrivastava
Self-defence, especially for women, is of utmost importance in the kind of the world we live in today. Women, usually referred as the weaker sex, are considered easier targets. In a country like India where the cases of gender violence are on rise, out of which many go unreported, self-defence for women has become a necessity more than ever.
Society’s Approach Towards Crime Against Women
Rape, molestation, kidnapping and murder are the most common forms of crime against women in India. The women in India are also vulnerable to acid attacks and eve-teasing. The mindset of the people, including the victim and the spectator, is to ignore and just let it go. But, what we, as the responsible citizens of an independent country, fail to realise is that these instances of harassment can flare up into other bigger heinous crimes against women. And that is when the importance of learning self-defence techniques for women is felt.
Various studies have shown that the criminals tend to choose their targets when they (the potential victim) are unaware of the surroundings. Hence, it is time that each woman became vigilant and totally aware of the surroundings.
The women should be aware of the strategies to be adopted under different adverse circumstances. For example, if you’re alone at home during such an attack, you should hurriedly run to kitchen to find chili powder and knives to use them as weapons.
Here is the list of possible measures that women should take to safely steer away from danger:
- Note down the number of the cab when travelling alone.
- Enrol themselves for self-defence classes and learn several techniques to physically fight the attacker.
- Opt for trainings in basic karate, kickboxing, Israeli krav-maga, and traditional stick fighting (using lathi).
Institutes in India Developing Awareness for Self-defence Among Women
Several institutes like DARE (Defence against rape and eve teasers) by Institute of Martial Science in Mumbai, Smile Foundation and Blank Noise work towards women self-defense awareness. Stressful situations evoke a fight, flight or freeze response. Self-defence skills prepare you to fight rather than freeze and such organisations are the place to learn how to put up an impressive fight against the attacker. Most of these organisations host workshops, road events and demonstrations to increase awareness about street violence.
Some Quick Tips & Tricks for Self-defence
1. Pretend to be submissive at first and fight back when the attacker is off-guard.
2. Stay fit enough to run fast.
3. Keep a check when walking on the road to avoid groping or chain-snatching from behind.
4. Keep your purse to your front and walk paying full attention around.
5. Try avoiding high-heeled footwear when you have to walk a long distance and in unknown territories.
6. Say out ‘STOP’ in a loud and aggressive voice when need be but avoid using swear words or threats.
Though the self-defence training might not be easily available everywhere, women can make up for this by being updated about the gender violence issues across newspapers, television and magazines. Also, the women in smaller cities can learn self-defence techniques from websites which have proper training content and tutorials.
Are you being stalked? Act before it’s late
The obvious and most important reason for a girl to get involved in the martial arts is the capacity for self-defense that she will develop. In today’s increasingly violent world, crime can strike anywhere. Women are often times the target of sex crimes and, not knowing how to defend themselves, it can scar a young girl for her entire life. Being able to know how to defend herself is an invaluable tool as she grows up, taking her skills with her to college, and it gives not only her but also her parents a feeling that at least their daughter is safe.
The martial arts give girls the means by which to develop high self-esteem and self-confidence.
The martial arts give girls the means by which to develop high self-esteem and self-confidence. In the martial arts, everyone is valued as an individual for not only their actions but also their personality. As girls grow into their pre-teen and teenage years, there’s a multitude of issues that come with that development. Girls growing into their bodies are subject to female bullying, clique contests and the like and so many begin to feel worthless or confused and may even venture into esteem-based diseases such as bulimia and anorexia.
The martial arts promote students by belt rank with achievement, and as girls watch themselves become promoted and valued for their rank, their self-esteem and self-confidence rises, making them less vulnerable to peer attacks.
The martial arts helps girls achieve balance in their lives. Instead of becoming nasty and gossip queens to hide their issues or their frustrations about themselves or others, martial arts schools offer a safe place to exert frustrations on punching bags and gives students a cathartic and physical release of negative emotions. Conversely, such exercise increases endorphins and puts girls in a more positive mood about themselves and others.
The martial arts help girls to focus on what's important in their lives.
The martial arts help girls to focus on what’s important in their lives. While many may become caught up in make-up, fashionable clothes, and false friends that come and go, those in the martial arts tend to be more goal-oriented and self-motivated to achieve in academics and focus in the classroom and on homework. As an instructor myself, I have seen many students with severe cases of ADD and ADHD be trained to focus and achieve well. Since martial arts promotion depends on how well a student works to achieve a certain performance standard on forms, kicks, and sparring, a student must put effort into their training and focus on new techniques being taught in order to be promoted, and encouragement paves the way.
The martial arts ingrains respect for all people into young girls.
The martial arts ingrains respect for all people into young girls. Just as instructors respect students, senior belts respect junior belts and junior belts respect senior belts and instructors, it is an atmosphere of mutual respect regardless. Girls feel valued for their contributions and in turn value the people around them including peers and parents, setting a positive example and helping them to develop into respectful young women.
The martial arts promote gender equality to a great extent. Both males and females can be martial artists. Girls do the same exercises as male students in the karate school, they fight the same way, and many times girls can see that they do movements as well as the boys, further encouraging self-respect and the very visible understanding that women are not limited due to their gender.
MARTIAL ARTS HELP GIRL BECOME CONFIDENT
Martial arts give girls a safe and comfortable place to interact with the opposite sex. As girls hit their preteen and teen years, the opposite sex begins to appeal to them but often times they don’t really know how to approach guys as friends first. Since martial arts are generally male-dominated sports, girls growing up have the opportunity to interact with guys on a first hand basis several times a week and develop friendships. It teaches girls to relate with their male counterparts and it shows them that no one is invincible-they watch boys get knocked down in sparring matches and help them up. Interactions with the opposite sex at a budding age where there is no pressure to date and males are friends establishes a solid foundation for building positive male-female relationships in the future that lead to healthier dating habits. How likely is it that a black belt teenager will put up with abuse (verbal or physical) in a relationship knowing that she has the power to render someone unconscious.
The martial arts give girls a support group. While in school girls may have a few close friends for sure, many shyer girls don’t have a whole lot of friends at all as they choose not to interact. With the martial arts, you have no choice but to interact, doing drills and fighting sparring matches with other students. Friendships form and cliques are rare as everyone participates in common experiences, and girls feel confident and accepted.
Martial arts support an attitude of perseverance that serves a girl well in daily life. Some kicks and forms may be difficult to learn, but there are always instructors available to help encourage students. When fighting, girls learn that if they get knocked down, they don’t cry and give up, rather, they get up and keep fighting. This attitude manifests itself into everyday decisions and girls in martial arts tend to stay at their tasks until they are completed rather than just simply giving up if the going gets hard.
Lastly, but also very importantly, is the fact that martial arts is a great physical workout for girls. Karate is a sport that builds strength, speed, stamina, and endurance in girls, keeping them physically fit and in great shape, a fact which helps establish a positive personal image and further promotes confidence in school and in life in general.