Very often well-meaning martial arts instructors advertise their programs as being for women’s self-defense. They have not thought about the fact or taken into consideration that when a man attacks a man, he either wants his money or his life. When a man attacks a woman, he either wants her money, her life, OR HER BODY. The nature of the conflict is, by definition, extremely different. Techniques taught by the Women’s Self-Defense Institute in its Women's Empowerment Series, of which Girls on Guard is a part, wisely acknowledge that difference and teach a woman to bring her particular strengths to the conflict while minimizing the strengths of a man. She should not attempt to fight directly into the “strengths” of the man who is attacking her. That’s not silly or flawed reasoning; it is a smart strategy for any fighter. This shift in thinking is what really sets the Girl’s on Guard concept apart. But it did not originally start that way, it has evolved.
At the start of the Women’s Self-Defense Institute’s program, we were teaching women some really good and effective martial arts moves that we (Brad Parker, Steve Kardian, and others who helped found Defend University of which the Women’s Self-Defense Institute is a Part) really liked. They worked well for us...but none of the non-martial artist women could: Make the technique work within a timeframe of 30 minutes; or, more importantly, remember the techniques at the end of the 2-hour class when we went to review. So, in effect, even though we showed them some really good stuff, they couldn't quickly learn it and they didn't even retain it during the first day of class! What a problem. A significant point here -- I'm not saying that the martial arts techniques that we were teaching are not effective. I'm saying that the women were "telling" us that these techniques were not working for them. At first we concluded that it was "their" fault they weren't learning and just pushed them harder. However, after multiple classes with the same result, we concluded that it was "our" fault and we were not teaching them correctly. We started doing research looking into what was being taught to women by various women’s self-defense instructors. There were two distinct paths. Others were either: 1) Teaching the advanced techniques that ARE effective if you are a trained fighter (leg kicks, knees, elbows, grappling, etc.); 2) Or instructors would respond and say something like, "Oh I wouldn't teach a woman how to fight, just something to defend herself so she could escape." This meant they would teach the same old stuff -- walk with confidence, hold your keys between your fingers rake the shoe down the shin during the foot stomp, poke to the eyes or kick to the groin. Ironically, the first response gave the beginning students too much credit and the second method gave women too little credit. There are very few of the first type of schools. They are commendable because they did not discriminate by gender. They are teaching warriors. And, given enough time, interest, and training, I feel they would turn out the women who would be best qualified to defend themselves. The second response was far more prevalent and, quite frankly, kind of sickening. We feel it's very condescending to women. "Oh, don't fight back (because you are too weak, too scared, too inept, unable to learn the real techniques, etc.), just escape". What? If it was that easy, then why wouldn't we all do that? These instructors were not factoring in the true dynamic of an assault. What are these instructors thinking of? Plus, we found out that a lot of what seems like a good idea at first doesn’t work well in a real situation. An instructor working with a cooperative assistant can make anything look like it’s effective. Have you ever tried a foot stomp on someone who is moving and taking you down to the ground? Did you really ever try to hit something with keys between your fingers?
We kept being approached by women who were not trained in martial arts nor were they going to start training in martial arts, but they were desperate to learn self-defense. And, from our perspective, the women who needed it the most were the least likely to train. These women were older, overweight, very young, frail, introspective...you get the idea. We have even had blind teenagers as students that were very withdrawn and had multiple emotional and health issues to deal with. They were the perfect victims and needed a system or a method that would work. These women needed something that they could learn quickly, was "natural" for them, and something that they could RETAIN during a stressful situation. So we began modifying the program to start with the worst possible position you could find yourself in -- the bad guy has you pinned down to the ground, assault and harm is imminent. The system is taught in reverse of how we are typically taught. Normally, programs are taught to avoid or evade the first contact, then what to do if he grabs your wrist and then what to do when he grabs your shoulders, etc. The Girls on Guard: Reduce the Odds module starts with the sexual assault position and then backs out. Yes, we cover avoidance and evasion, but one of the core principles is that you always know you can escape the worst position possible - so any of the others are relatively simple to handle by comparison.
Most of the Women's Empowerment Series modules do not depend very much on hitting. While a favorite strategy of some well-publicized courses that you see on TV - the “stun and run” and “keep hitting him until he is down” philosophy plays right into the hands of the “Fight Like a Man” game. The fact that he is in range of your hits means that you are in range of his hits! We contend that if you hit a guy, most likely he is going to hit you right back and his hit will be 10 times harder than yours. So we don’t advocate many punches or pokes. The thousands of women who trained in the program as it was evolving "showed us what worked and what didn't.” They began to be able to see sexual assault/kidnapping scenarios as problems that needed a solution. They began to be able to spontaneously respond to full power attacks with an appropriate and effective solution. They even began to solve problems that they had never encountered before.
When playing the bad guy in the scenarios, we felt the difference. Women began to really respond in a way that was immediate and it was effective! So much for those critics who thought teaching women to fight differently than men was silly. Women began to gain confidence in the techniques because they worked – under stress in realistic scenarios. And as they gained confidence in their skill, they developed confidence in their will. For our graduates, they tell us they feel a huge sense of empowerment because now they have a method they learned quickly, is effective under stress, and is simple enough that they will never forget it. We've even had graduates from the courses tell us they are sure that their training from their particular certified instructor saved them from attack and assault!
Life is Precious ... DEFEND IT!
Pink Diamond Defense’s mission is to impact the lives of women by empowering them to defend their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual boundaries through the teaching of awareness information, pre-indicators of predators, and basic self-defense techniques that are easy to remember and execute. It is our hope that, just like a Pink Diamond, we can help women realize their inner strength, beauty, and worth one woman at a time.