For Women’s History Month, I took a self-defense workshop and here’s what I learned 🙂
1. Be aware. We must always be aware of our surroundings. That’s the first defense. When we’re aware we won’t be caught off-guard. There’s less chance for someone to come close enough to attack us. Sometimes, eye contact is all it takes to dissuade an attacker because eye contact = identification. What criminal wants to be identified? Awareness helps us avoid dangerous situations.
Likewise, we need to be aware when it comes to our faith. We need to be able to identify faith attackers like pain, anger, doubt, busyness, laziness, greed, the enemy, etc. before they can come close enough to throw us off course.
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8, NLT).
2. Getting away is the better defense. Once we disable our attackers, the grandmaster emphasized running away. Without proper training, sticking around to admire our work or taking a selfie would only put us in further danger. The attacker may have allies, or regain enough strength or anger to take us down. We equate strength with being able to fight back, deliver an uppercut or a roundhouse kick. But it’s not weakness when our goal is to get away. It’s smart.
We too can be smart in faith. “Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it” (Psalm 34:14). We can turn, walk, run away from evil, from temptations, or things that pull us back into our old sinful lives. We don’t have to beat up our past or beat ourselves up because of our past. Jesus already did that on the cross.
The grandmaster also said it’s a sign of strength to walk away. He demonstrated getting the upper hand when one of his student assistants attacked him. It was easy for him to put the student in a hold that could break his neck or arm, but he pointed out that we’re the good guys. At the point when we’re able to, we walk away (or run away) because we’re already safe. Doing further damage is now cruel. Show mercy instead.
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36, NIV).
3. Keep Contact. Instinct tells us to pull away, but we learned the importance of keeping contact until we can evacuate the area (run away). It doesn’t seem like good defense to keep contact with the attacker. After all, we’re trying to get away. But if all we do is pull away, the attacker can keep coming. Contact helps us disable the attacker from further attacks. We can use our arms to throw an attacker off-balance or we can grip an attacker’s thumb or fingers to bring him/her down. Contact helps us knock attackers down, or deliver a quick blow/chop, or do something to disorient them so we can get away and they won’t follow.
Keeping in contact with God also gives us the upper hand. “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13, NLT). Through Christ, we have the strength to overcome anything. Through our God, we are victorious.
4. Follow through. When practicing the defense moves, I kept pulling away too soon, usually at the first sign of resistance. We practiced with a couple of the grandmaster’s students. The moves brought them falling to the floor over and over again, but they knew how to fall. They assured us the falls were not fake, but they were not hurt. We just gave them a workout. But if we don’t follow through, if we don’t keep going, if we hesitate, then the moves were ineffective. We had to keep going until they were down. In self-defense, we don’t stop until we’re safe.
And we don’t stop until we’ve finished the race, this spiritual journey (Hebrews 12:1-3, Philippians 3:14). We don’t stop at the first sign of resistance, at the first hurdle, or second, or third. We don’t give up when it’s hard. We press on. We persevere. We endure. Because God is with us and will sustain us.
5. Put your arms up right away. We learned to put our arms up as if we’re hugging a tree. It’s a basic self-defense move that leads to other moves, and it protects our head from being grabbed or punch. It’s hard to get away when an attacker has a hold of our heads, either by grabbing our hair or ears. Getting hold of the head means the attacker has control of our line of vision and perspective. We lose awareness of our surroundings, we are quickly thrown off-balance, and we can easily lose consciousness. Our heads help us stay aware and figure out how to best get away. So we put our arms up quickly to protect our heads.
Is it any wonder that in the spiritual armor, we have a helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17)? That is our vision and perspective. Things like doubt, worries, and fear creep inside our heads and throw us for a loop. We lose sight of the truth, that we belong to Jesus. Salvation through Him is our helmet. It protects our minds from the lies that threaten to destroy us. When they come rolling in, let us raise our arms toward the Truth, Jesus.
6. Keep your feet grounded. The grandmaster demonstrated what could happen if we try to kick our attacker (or go for the groin). The attacker can grab our leg and throw us down. If that happens, we just trapped ourselves. We need to stay grounded and keep our feet solid on the ground. He called it our “integrity.” We maintain the ability to protect ourselves.
And our integrity is the Word of God. His Word keeps us grounded. His Word protects us. His promises give us hope. And – “Jesus replied, ‘But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.'” (Luke 11:28, NLT) – blessed are those who obey God.
I highly encourage women to take self-defense classes and learn the skills we need to protect ourselves. But we also need to protect ourselves spiritually (and emotionally, mentally).
Have you taken any self-defense classes? What’s your biggest take-away?