The Value of Learning Self Defense

Jun 8, 2018 | Health & Fitness Lifestyle

For the last year or so I have been helping run women’s self defense seminars. They are pretty awesome and if you would like to know more check out Gariyan Silat on Facebook.

Although this is difficult to talk about in a public space, I want to give you a little bit of background into why I was even interested in self defense in the first place. While I was in college, I was in a not so great relationship. I won’t go into too much detail, that might have to be for another day, but it eventually resulted in a restraining order. During this time of my life I felt afraid and helpless. When I say afraid, I mean I was terrified of leaving my dorm room and felt like a prisoner in my own life. This experience manifested into something bigger. I became afraid of every stranger (who was a man) on the street. I only saw predators because I was painfully aware of how quickly someone can become a predator.

Even after moving to Australia after finishing college, I was afraid to walk alone at night and take public transport by myself. Eventually, I became fed up with being afraid and wanted to do something about it. I was lucky enough to know someone who specialized in teaching how to kick ass and started learning how to defend myself.

First I want to say that self defense is more than just learning how to defend yourself physically from a potential attacker. Self defense means defending what belongs to you. This includes not just your physical self but also your mental and emotional self. I learned the hard way that another human can rob you of confidence, self worth, and innocence – not just your wallet. Let me say right now, it is never ok for another person to take these things from you. That’s why I’m writing this article.

Learning self defense, along with becoming as strong as possible started to give me back some of what had been stolen from me. I felt strong and capable and realized that this strength and skillset gave me control over a potentially bad situation.

Although initially I apologized every time I hit my self defense trainer (who is also one of my closest friends), I started to realize that I had enough of saying sorry. When I was being stalked and made to feel like a tiny, helpless, worthless shell of myself, I said sorry for things that weren’t my fault. I said sorry to the school administration that had to get involved, I said sorry to campus security, I said sorry to friends that got dragged into the whole mess, and I even said sorry to him. Well fuck that. Being sorry got me nowhere and continuing to say sorry wasn’t going to help if I was every faced with a situation in the future where I had to defend myself.

Self defense taught me to stop saying sorry. When you say sorry too often and are afraid of hurting or upsetting someone else, you might find yourself in a situation where you are miserable, or worse even in potential danger.

Self defense gave me back some of my self worth. I would like to point out here that there is a huge difference between self worth and self confidence. Self confidence is having confidence in your abilities or intellect. For example, at the time I was dealing with all of this, I was still dancing and even though my self worth had been torn down, I was still completely confident in my dancing abilities. I still stood at the front of the room and marveled at how great my arabesque was. Where self confidence is something that radiates outward, self worth is much more internal and hard to see.

Self worth is what you as a unique individual has to offer the world. It’s what is left when you strip away everything else and it can be lost so easily. Self worth is knowing that you are worth defending. For a long time I didn’t tell my family what was going on. It took most of the academic year for me to even report what was going on because I didn’t feel like I was worth enough to defend myself. I blamed myself and felt for a long time that his actions were my own doing. Even now as I am writing this, I can’t help but feel that lump rising in the back of my throat. Although memories of specific events have faded, you never forget the feeling of being afraid, of feeling worthless.

This is the value and the lesson from learning self-defense that I carry with me every day. I am worth defending and so are you.