When I first started Krav Maga, I struggled with hitting another person. We’re raised from children to be kind and nice, to not bite or hit. Especially being raised female, we run into even more things, like being “good” or “pure” or “submissive,” depending on the household you were raised in. And unlike boys, aggression is very rarely encouraged in women. But it’s an unfortunate reality that women are more likely to be targeted with the assumption that we are weak (which is not true!).
It took me a while to get comfortable with aggression and I have spoken to enough women to know that I’m not the only one.
If you’re struggling with the idea of hitting someone, there are other ways to start that range from things you can do at home to ways you can join us at Valley Self-Defense at your own comfort level.
One of the best things I’ve found for helping people through tough situations is visualization. Athletes use visualization to work on winning games and improving performance. I’ve used it to talk students through situations where they have high anxiety or have fear of multiple outcomes. As we work on a guided breathing meditation, I walk through a number of scenarios and what the outcome would be if they won. The scenario doesn’t need to be violent or scary - sometimes, it’s as much as setting a boundary at work or telling a person that you do not want to be touched.
Start with verbal self-defense techniques
Verbal self-defense involves using your words and body language to de-escalate a situation. This can include things like standing up straight, maintaining eye contact, and speaking in a calm and confident tone of voice.
You can also practice specific phrases and responses that can help you diffuse a situation or assert your boundaries.
Some examples for people you know might include:
- "Please stop."
- "I don't feel comfortable with that."
- "You're making me feel unsafe."
- "I'm going to leave now."
For strangers, you may want to be more forceful and use what we call “Tactical F Bombs” for those of you who don’t like swearing:
- "Back the fuck up."
- "Get the fuck away."
- "Don’t come closer or I will do XYZ"
- "Don’t touch me."
By practicing these words and phrases and incorporating them into your daily interactions, you can build your confidence and ability to handle difficult situations.
Build physical strength and endurance
Physical strength and endurance can be important for self-defense, as they can give you the ability to run away from a dangerous situation or fight back if necessary. Building strength and endurance can also help you feel more confident in general.
Practice physical self-defense moves against a bag
At Valley Self-Defense, we teach StrikeFit®. While it’s part cardio heavy bag workout, it also uses Krav Maga combatives for fitness training. We’ve often heard from students that they’d feel more comfortable hitting a heavy bag before either hitting or getting hit by another person. StrikeFit® considers itself a stepping stone to full Krav Maga classes, getting people comfortable with strikes and combinations and hitting something heavy.
Practice non-violent physical self-defense with a trusted partner
Oftentimes at Valley Self-Defense, we have people who are interested in self-defense, but have anxiety around group classes or have experienced trauma and prefer to practice with only an instructor. All of those things are valid! What I’ll typically do for people like this is start them punching a heavy bag, then maybe I’ll have them punch a bag I’m holding. I have people bring someone they trust to work with them. We’ll start with grabs, boundary setting techniques, and anything that doesn’t require physically punching or hitting a person. As we establish more and more trust, we can move to techniques that require more physical contact, but every student gets to decide when and how they’d like to move forward.
Seek out support and community
Learning self-defense can be hard and can stir up so many emotions. It can be helpful to seek out support from friends, family, or a therapist who can provide a safe and non-judgmental space to discuss your experiences and feelings. You may also want to seek out a community of women who are also learning self-defense, whether through a class, a meetup group, or an online forum. I have found that having a community of people who understand and support you is crucial when it comes to learning how to keep yourself safe.
Remember that self-defense is about survival
Anything we teach you is not about fighting or winning a physical altercation, but about survival. It's about doing whatever you need to do to protect the people you love or yourself and get to safety. We teach situational awareness and avoiding any type of fight, but it’s not always possible. What we teach is for the times that you weren’t able to avoid a fight, confrontation, or situation.
You have the right to set your own boundaries and to defend yourself if necessary. By taking steps to build your skills and confidence, you can work towards being able to protect yourself in a way that feels comfortable and appropriate for you.
Freezing is a natural response to stress. We discuss why it happens, how to make it shorter, and the best way to move forward.
Over time, we've found a handful of tips to can help people cope with panic during class. You can use them with self-defense or in any part of your life where you experience panic attacks and anxiety.
Krav Maga near me? There is! If you're looking for a Krav Maga class near you, Valley Self-Defense is a proud member of the International Krav Maga Federation with schools located across the United States. To find a school near you, visit the IKMF USA website.