Sunday, August 12, 2007

Self-defense as a Spiritual Practice

Tom Swiss posted this at his blog a while back:

"You are a manifestation of the divine, a child of the God and Goddess. That makes you a being worth defending; yet our culture's confused attitudes about violence, plus the self-esteem issues faced by many people in the Pagan community, often obscure the fact that self-defense is also defense of the divine principle within all of us."


Ask the Rev. Anne Hill, who recently received her black belt in Aikido. She can tell you how empowering this is. I know a number of Pagan women who practice this particular form of self defense.

John Turnbull, Australian Aikido Master, says that:

"It is often assumed that women, because of an average man's greater physical strength, have a harder time defending themselves. In fact, in Aikido, because they are on average shorter, have a lower centre of gravity and are more intuitive to the use of ki, they are often better at Aikido than their male counterparts. It is only because society tends to make women think that they are weak that they don't realize their potential."

Tom Swift recently taught a workshop at Starwood on self-defense for Pagans. Here is the outline:

"In this workshop we will try to cut through the fog and discuss attitudes and skills to preserve not just your body but your divine nature. Targeted for those without previous martial arts or self-defense training; but experienced students are also welcome. We will practice verbal and non-verbal communication skills for dealing with conflict, and a few simple self-defense techniques."

I wish someone would teach something like that at PantheaCon

If you are interested in learning some effective self defense, but do not have the time or the desire to take years of training, I highly recommend the 6 week course offered by Model Mugging (AKA Impact). This course is effective whether you are 16 or 65, 102 pounds or 200+, in good physical condition or not. Classes are offered for both men and women.

Personally, I prefer swords. Sadly, sharp edged weapons are not something I can carry around on a regular basis, and they have yet to perfect the purse-sized lightsaber.

When in doubt, get a taser. They make them now in pink. Or, if you are traveling to dangerous places, you can check a stun gun into your luggage or keep it in your car. They come disguised as cell phones, pens and flashlights.

Note: Don't be a Cowboy. Before using weapons of any kind, check the laws in your state, and get the appropriate training.

Let me be clear: I am not a bad ass. I was taught that
the best way to win a fight, is to avoid it altogether. If that is not possible, get your attacker down on the ground where they can't hurt you, and run away, yelling at the top of your lungs.


Off the Shelf:

The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker

CD of Same:

The Gift of Fear: And Other Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence

Publisher's Note: Each hour, 75 women are raped in the United States, and every few seconds, a woman is beaten. Each day, 400 Americans suffer shooting injuries, and another 1,100 face criminals armed with guns. Author Gavin de Becker says victims of violent behavior usually feel a sense of fear before any threat or violence takes place. They may distrust the fear, or it may impel them to some action that saves their lives. A leading expert on predicting violent behavior, de Becker believes we can all learn to recognize these signals of the "universal code of violence," and use them as tools to help us survive. The book teaches how to identify the warning signals of a potential attacker and recommends strategies for dealing with the problem before it becomes life threatening. The case studies are gripping and suspenseful, and include tactics for dealing with similar situations.

Self Defense For Women

See Sally Kick Ass: A Woman's Guide to Personal Safety

Self-Defense for Peaceable People: Defend Yourself Regardless of Size, Gender, Age, or Strength

Aikido Student Handbook: A Guide to the Philosophy, Etiquette and Training Methods of Aikido


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the mention. Actually, though, it's Tom *Swiss* (I get the "Swift" thing all the time.) I'm pleased that this workshop has been well-received at Starwood and at the Free Spirit Gathering.

You're the second person to say I ought to present at PantheaCon. I'd like to get out there and check it out sometime, though a little expensive since I'm on the East Coast.

Thanks again.

-Tom Swiss

Dj Connell said...

So sorry, Tom! I've fixed it.

I hope you can make it out to the West Coast someday.