Krav Maga Spokane hosts a variety of regular events (Free 2 U classes, knife and handgun seminars,
specialized speakers such as Lee Mein) but one of the longest running programs is the Women’s Self Defense seminars. Taught by women for women, this seminar is held four times a year, and sells out every time. The most recent seminar took place yesterday (Saturday the 21 st ) with 28 women attending from Spokane to Coeur d’Alene. This also marked the first seminar run by a few of the new female apprentices at KMS: Cassidy Wilson, Jesse Potts, and myself.
Empowering women and teaching basic self-defense tools is something the three of us feel very strongly
about, both in a personal and general sense. All three of us have stories where we have felt threatened or terrified for our lives. That fear is partly what drove the three of us to KMS, and that is something common for all members, particularly the female members. You’ll find survivors of assault and abuse training on the floor every day. The biggest benefit to Krav Maga is that it is a practical self-defense style that can empower everyone, especially those who come from any sort of trauma.
That is the mentality we tried to share with the women who arrived at our door yesterday. These are
simple skills that can save your life, even if Krav Maga isn’t something they come back to after the seminar. Another wonderful thing about these seminars is the range of women who sign up. We had a wide range of ages, skill levels, and backgrounds who were all there because they hoped this could benefit them if they got into a bad situation at some point.
We usually start these seminars the same: we discuss an attacker mentality, and how it relates to body
language. We had the ladies walk down the room towards us one at a time. Then Jesse asked them what they had noticed. The women were quick to point out that most of them had their eyes down, hunched shoulders, walked quickly and quietly. Jesse explained how just a small change in body language (head up, making eye contact, acknowledging people) could deter an attacked by presenting confidence and strength. We had the ladies make that same walk again, and the results were amazing to watch. They
were looser and more confident. They made eye contact and walked with a bit more self-assurance.
Some even made jokes. We knew we were in for a great class at that moment.
The next part is also a staple of the self-defense seminars. Cassidy began by explaining the most
effective and under-utilized weapon we have is our voice. Fighting back against an opponent is excellent, but your voice is what will draw help. Cassidy described her own near-death experience (if you haven’t seen her in the Krem 2 story about KMS, you should watch it), and how she made so much noise when she was fighting for her life that she drew the attention of five bystanders who came to her aid. We had the women walk towards each other; one woman walked as the attacker, and the other woman had to stop them with her voice. After the first time, we had them crank up the noise. The results were deafening.
The next two hours were dedicated to skills. We taught a wide range of beginner skills including striking,
elbows, groin kicks, a couple choke defenses, and an exercise or two that linked everything together. During each skill, we walked the room, providing feedback. As class progressed, we noticed the women became more confident in their striking. They hit the pads harder. They practiced each skill with more confidence and intensity. They asked us questions and to break down motions so they could get it right. These ladies rose to each challenge that was presented to them.
At the conclusion of the event, we were able to talk to the women about what brought them here, and what they thought of the seminar. I won’t share the details of their stories in this post. Those particular women were brave to share them with us in confidence. What I will tell you is that the stories they shared solidified why we do this. One of the girls, Emily Paddock, said, “My mom signed me up, and I was debating coming or not. But this changed my whole perspective. I'm so glad I came. This completely changed my confidence level.” One of the wonderful things about Krav Maga, and specifically this gym, is anyone can learn the skills. It's beneficial for everyone, especially those who need help finding their inner warrior.