Ten years ago I took a self defense class at a place called Prepare Impact. You learn to fight physically by hitting a man in a suit and you learn how to use your words to defend yourself. During the class, I struggled with the verbal portion, and even noticed myself not speaking up during some encounters after the class. I thought I had not picked up the verbal skills.
Since taking the class my daughter has taken it every year for the last three years. At the end of each kids class, there is a demonstration where they demonstrate all of the tactics they learned. I think attending the demonstration reminds me of the strategies involved and keeps them fresh in my mind.
Last night I went to a party four blocks from my house. I left late and decided to walk home. Three blocks were on busy, well-lit streets. My block, however, secluded and tree-lined by day, is empty and shadowed at night. I turned on my block and looked behind me to see if any one was following. No one was. A third of a way down the block I looked back and saw a man crossing the sidewalk, walking toward the street. When I looked back to see if he had indeed crossed the street, I noticed he was still on my side of the street walking along the edges as if he didn’t want to be seen. I crossed the street and u-turned so that I could pass him from a safe distance. When I spotted him, he was hiding behind a tree.
“I’m calling 911,” I yelled. He began to walk briskly down the street. I called 911 and stayed on the phone with the 911 operator until I was able to reach my building lobby. I am thrilled that I found my voice and used it to ward of a potential attack. I didn’t run, rather I thought about what would be the best way to remove myself from the victim position.
Trust me, I would not have thought of any of this myself. I spent my childhood running away from confrontations. It was the first time I actually used the Prepare training. Voicelessness is one of the most disempowering forces there are. Of course there are many times when some one will attack you no matter what, but most of the time, aggressors are looking for a victim. I have fought people off physically, I have walked away silently, and I have run and, when someone followed me and confronted me, I used my words in defense, but that was the first time I calmly followed the strategies I had learned. 1. Stay aware of your surroundings. 2. Move out of harm’s way/create a safe distance. 3. Tell them what you want them to do (well I didn’t do that, but I told him what I was doing). 4. Get help.
I really needed to see that I had it in me and I hope it will feed my willingness to use my voice (and encourage any one who has been considering a self defense class to go for it)
Here is the original post about my experience in the self defense class: http://kiiniibura.com/2001/10/28/vol-9-self-defense/
Be well. Be safe. Be love[d].
Kiini Ibura Salaam