Sunday, October 27, 2013

Women's Self-Defense Clinics

We attended a self-defense clinic at the Chandler Public Library.  Few people (including martial artists) would have ever thought that so many things could be used for self-defense - magazines, books, credit cards, PCs, cell phones, car keys, spare change, pens, belts, staplers, chairs, cups, tote bags, purses, brief cases and even reading glasses. The instructor kept pointing out that we are surrounded by weapons in libraries, homes, restaurants, schools, etc. We just need to learn to use them. Any object of just about any size and mass can be quickly made into a martial arts weapon. 

(C) by Soke Hausel
The clinic focused on weapons because the instructor noted that few people taking such clinics will show the initiative or interest to sign up for a martial arts class, so by learning to use weapons, the librarians will have a better chance of survival from an attack on the street or in the library. In karate, one learns mushin, the art of muscle memory. This is one of the methods that gives martial artists such a great advantage over those who do not train. It is a form of repetition and training reflexes. So for those librarians not interested in learning karate, they can achieve a lower state of mushin by learning how to use the tools around them for self-defense, and then keep reminding themselves every time when they walk into the library, that they are surrounded by weapons. They should try to visualize how they used that magazine and car keys in the self-defense clinic. So if they are every attacked, their mind will not go blank with panic, but it will search for a nearby weapon of self-defense. The clinic also focused on teaching the librarians how to use their God-given weapons such as their elbows, knees, fingers and palms - things that require little skill to learn.

Color pencil sketch by Soke Hausel (C)
It is the same for women's self-defense clinics. These clinics are taught all over the Phoenix valley at martial arts schools, police stations, fitness clubs, universities and community colleges, but the only good any of these are to the students is that they may attract one or two women to sign up for karate classes. According to Grandmaster Hausel, who taught martial arts classes and clinics in karate, kobudo, iaido, jujutsu, samurai arts, self-defense, women's self-defense, martial arts history, etc for 3 decades at the University of Wyoming and has 5 decades of martial arts experience, a person cannot expect to achieve the self-defense abilities and awareness in a single self-defense clinic that a person who has been training for 5 or more years has. It takes considerable time to learn to react and block, develop focus, timing and power. But in todays society, many people want a quick fix, but it is just not out there - at least not until science comes up with a self-defense pill. So for now, if a person wants to learn self-defense - either sign up for karate, or learn how to use a gun. There are several indoor gun ranges around the valley that have a Free Ladies Day and will assist women in gun training.

Grandmaster Hausel demonstrates how to use
a library book for self-defense at the Chandler
Public Library
Both men and women who sign up for karate classes should look for schools that focus on adults, not kids. Adults will have a better time and also learn to defend against adults instead of 6-year old kids. Shy women should find a friend and join a class together - the classes will help them become more positive over time - its one of the side benefits of karate classes.

The purpose of the clinics is to provide attendees with a general introduction to self-defense and modern kobudo. One clinic attendee, an engineer from Boeing named Amanda exclaimed, "Wow, I'll never be able to look at another magazine or towel without thinking I'm holding a self-defense weapon - who would have guessed?"

Few self-defense clinic attendees will continue in martial arts education, so martial arts instructors have to be creative with clinics. So goes for a Master of Karate, Dr. Neal, who is also a professor at Grand Canyon University. He showed other martial artists how one can use protractors, rulers, pens, pants, glasses, suspenders, straw hats, corn-cob pipes, and even corn cobs as weapons. Other off-the-wall weapons include picture frames, flashlights, batteries, memory sticks, markers, and Duck Commander style duck calls.

Self-defense clinic attendees at the Unversity of Wyoming.
The World Health Organization reported recently that 420,000 murders occurred in the US. Sounds like a lot, but we have a very large population (>311 million). The report goes on to state 109 countries which have 100% gun bans (most with considerably smaller populations than the US), had a high of 9.16 million murders to a low of 420,000 murders during the same time frame. Imagine that, 109 gunless counties with murder rates higher than the US!

One country was a distinct anomaly – Switzerland. During this same period, Switzerland reported ‘zero’ murders. What makes Switzerland different is most adults in Switzerland are required by law to own a gun and required train and qualify as marksmen. So, would tighter gun control laws or banning guns altogether in the US lower the murder rate? Based on historical data, our murder rate would skyrocket. Sorry about the detour, the US Constitution is fine and guarantees Americans to have access to guns for self-defense. After all, this does not seem to be the problem.