Hardly a week goes by that we aren't contacted by someone interested in attending a women's-only seminar or class and are often taken aback by the fact that we don't offer them. Although we offer some explanation at the time, the issue probably warrants a more thorough and public explanation.
At best, women's self-defense seminars are a waste of everyone's time. At worst, the attendees leave worse off than the came in. So, let's go through our explanation:
#1. There's no such thing as women's self-defense.
Self-defense is fighting, regardless of who you are. And fighting is principally the same regardless of who is learning. We don't have a cache of secret techniques that we save for the ladies; there is nothing you're going to see in there that you won't see in one of our scheduled classes.
#2. There are no shortcuts, so stop looking for one.
I've been involved in enough of these seminars to know that this is likely the last time you'll see these women. Many people in our industry use these seminars as sales tools to feed people into a memberships. Generally, it's ineffective, because the people that attend these sorts of seminars are looking for shortcuts. They want to go somewhere and spend an hour or two on a weekend and leave knowing that from here on out they can "handle themselves". FALSE.
The truth is, there is nothing that I or anyone else can show you in a 1-2 hour seminar that will do any good unless you are training it regularly. Self-defense is a depreciable skill and it will go away --- if you don't train on a regular basis.
Seminars should always be supplementary training in addition to your regular training schedule. They should not be relied on as a "one and done" solution for self-defense.
#3. We're not here to make you comfortable; we're here to make you safer.
I often get rebuttals back about how women feel more comfortable training with other women. I get the discomfort with being in a training room with people (particularly men) that are bigger, stronger, and unfamiliar -- but it doesn't do any good to only train with people that make us comfortable. Simply put, all of us need to be training with people that approximate a real attacker, and you're just not going to find that in a room full of women. Women are not the ones that most often perpetrate these types of violent crimes, but neither are the dummies you see in all the movies. The man in the padded suit taking kicks to the groin by a line of women, (while that's not a bad training tool) it still should NOT leave anyone with a sense of preparedness..
I know. It's a fine line; to find a place to train where you are comfortable working with everyone in the room, whether they are a foot taller, or shorter than you. Your training center needs to embody the quote "if size mattered, the elephant would be king of the jungle". No matter your size, you can learn to defend yourself, you just have to be willing to take a flying leap out of your comfort zone.
If you want a comfortable outing, go for a spa day, but don't look for it in your fight training.
#4. Women's self-defense seminars aren't empowering, they're emboldening.
Both sound like good things, First, we can't empower you; we can help equip you with skills, but we're not in the empowerment business. Second, why is being emboldened bad? It's not, as long as you have skills to back it up (that simply will not be achieved in your women's self-defense seminar).
I can not tell you how many women I've met who speak with the confidence of a prize-fighter, because they took some course 10 years ago. People walking around with a false sense of their abilities can and will lead to disaster.
What you learn at a seminar can be and is incredible valuable, but it is a sliver of what you need to effectively mount a defense against a variety of violent attacks. You don't learn to swim from one class, you don't learn piano from one lesson, why would one believe they can learn self defense from one lesson? Practice makes perfect isn't just a great t-shirt one liner.. It is a fact.
#5. A seminar will give you an abbreviated glimpse, and won't prepare you for real violence by itself.
Which bring us to the last point; a seminar can either have breadth or depth, but it can't have both. Without both, you're missing important elements of the truth about violence. Don't be fooled into think you have a good handle on violence after a couple hours of training. Trust me, you don't.
There has been a video making the rounds recently about a female self-defense "expert" going through how to address a choke from a attacker that comes up behind you. It perfectly exemplifies the problems with these types of seminars: it's full of shortcut techniques that wouldn't actually work against a bigger and stronger attacker, especially if the attacker was giver her an realistic attack (which she isn't). And I'm sure there is no malicious intent in the video, the "expert" is probably very well-intentioned. Unfortunately her intent doesn't also come with intellectual honesty. If something seems to good to be true or too easy, you're probably right. If you can look at a video like this and hear an explicit or implicit "all you have to do is . . .", run the other direction.
In closing, if you are serious about self-defense and fighting, then be serious. Come train. There is a difference between being comfortable and having fun. Training can be tons of fun, but it should rarely be comfortable. Come have some fun training with us!