Thursday, October 11, 2012

SELF-DEFENSE: Lee Aldridge - Women's Self Defense: Short Treatise

Women's Self Defense: Short Treatise
By Lee Aldridge

I recently posted this on another forum in reply to several posts that advocated such approaches as aikido and kenjutsu as good preparation for female SD. I hope that these comments can also spark some discussion regarding the focus of every individual's training and how we can often lose sight of the "event". A bit of the post may seem disjointed without the context of the other posts, but I believe that the gist of things will be clear.

Humans learn best when they practice the exact event in which they will participate. To effectively construct a training environment for females, you must create close replicas of the scenarios which a woman will face. Progressing through the verbal interaction with strangers (or acquaintances of whom the female is "not sure") and continuing on to more physical duplications of realistic male-on-female attacks, you may develop both the physical tactics AND the psycho-emotional steadiness that enables effective action.

Therefore, the most effective women's self-defense training is that which introduces a small number of extremely nasty strikes (which are also used to effect release from grabs) and allows the opportunity to explore their use in the greatest number of situations. Adding in some elements of BJJ, using applicable leverages that enable the female to gain positional advantage while held down, prepares the student for the reality of a larger, stronger attacker on top of you. Introducing the concept of environmental weaponry begins the development of the thought processes that give rise to "being armed" in any location. For those interested, dealing with carry of purpose-built weapons AND access to those weapons under the duress of a realistic fight elevates survival capability immensely.

The previous post that detailed multiple methods for escape from grabs is (IMO) an example of unnecessary complexity for self-defense purposes. When grabbed anywhere by an attacker in front, attacking the eyes of the opponent will gain release from the hold. If both hands are grabbed, then simple shin kicks, groin knees, and headbutts provide all the firepower a woman requires. Performing these maneuvers while the attacker is actually employing force AND moving you around is far more difficult (at first) then the typically stationary methods used in many martial arts approaches. We consider it essential that movement and violent force be incorporated into abduction training, lest the defender experience this level of challenge for the first time while actually being attacked.

Please remember that a rape-like attack does not begin in a "symmetrical" mode, where both combatants are aware of the onset of the fight and are ready to go. This imbalance in initiative is often neglected in typical training methodologies. The famous "Model Mugging" program was started when a black belt female champion karateka was attacked and raped. When asked why she was ineffective despite her accomplishments, her instructor's reply was "You need to train harder!"

Ultimately, in several more intelligent discussions with other peers, the realization was made that she simply HAD NOT TRAINED FOR THE RIGHT EVENT. As stated before, rape-like attacks rarely start with the distance and consensual onset of most traditional sparring structures. Once dragged around and thrown to the ground, both movement-based (Aikido, etc.) and power-striking-based (TKD, karate, etc.) styles offer very little value to a defender. The tactics and techniques must be driven by an impartial analysis of the "problem".

We were hired to instruct seminars at a local TKD school. In the women's segment, my assistant wore the armored suit and approached each student with casual talk. The class consisted of raw beginners through multiple black belt women, aging 18-50. As he approached, he suddenly lunged forward and slammed each woman in turn into the wall behind her (softly enough to prevent injury, but hard enough to produce startle). EVERY woman there fought exactly the same: poorly. They were absolutely novice at dealing with this level of force and violence. Once higher-percentage methods were discussed, demonstrated, and practiced, the females all performed much more effectively. The black belt women were now able to use their familiarity with producing power, etc. to good effect, because they understood the opportunities and limitations of the actual event!

In summary, I realize that some or all of this post may irritate those who are invested in traditional arts. Those arts are not being discouraged..... they simply offer too much other material that is not applicable to the situation being discussed. They train students to excel at many things, but not all of those things are pertinent to self-survival under this type of attack. As mentioned, experts in those arts can quickly become more efficient self-defense practitioners once they are exposed to training environments that more close resemble the actual attack they will face.

I applaud all those who contributed to this thread, and truly hope that my comments cause individuals to delve more thoroughly into women's self-defense realities and human performance science.

I don't post here often; we have our own forum where all aspects of self-protection are discussed.


You can contact Lee Aldridge care of his site:



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