Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fighting Back

This past weekend, I attended a Women's Only Self-Defense Course at CrossFit Northern Virginia. I stumbled upon the class when on the CrossFit main site and saw a link to a picture in the affiliate blog about a kettle bell certification course at their facility. I went to their site, and, lo and behold, read up about the up coming event. It was good timing as it fell 3 weeks to the day after I was assaulted. I passed on the information to the rugby team and a few other friends, and ended up going with 3 other people, my GF included.

The week leading up to the course, I was unsure if I really wanted to go and having major second thoughts. The assault came back every night as I tried to sleep, and even worse thoughts of someone else assaulting, and even raping me, came in a flood of emotions. I didn't sleep well early in the week and cried a lot. I emailed a guy I had met at the Monkey Bar Gym CNT course that I took 3 weeks ago who also teaches self defense and is involved in martial arts. He was helpful in the psychological part of the event by reminding me that I survived, that I'm still alive, instead of focusing what I could've done and dwelling on the past. He's also a fellow trail runner and I hope to hook up with him for some long runs.

I didn't know what to expect, but did like that they started off the course with this funny Jim Carrey clip that they preceded by saying "Everything I learned about self defense I learned from Jim Carrey"

One thing they didn't want to show is how you HAVE to do something, which is what JC tells his students - "you HAVE to come at me with the knife like THIS, so I can defend the attack like THIS." An attack isn't always going to happen the same way, or how you've trained for it. We were told about the 97/3 Percent Rule. Here's an example in this video below that they played for us.

This guy represents the 97% - someone who is harmless - but the woman trained for that 3%, and responded to him as she was taught, as if she was being attacked/assaulted. For me, I need to find that common ground where I can still feel comfortable telling that 97% the time or giving them directions, and not assuming that everyone that approaches me is in that 3% and is out to harm me.

We weren't taught how to punch, hit, kick, grab, stomp, poke, bite, or scream. We all know how to do this, or some of these, and would be able to do them if given the situation. It was mentioned in class that there would be other, more intensive courses, that would involve donning the protective suits and really getting physical.

What they did show us is how to flinch. Sounds weird, doesn't it? Think of a foul ball or stray bat coming quickly into the stands at a baseball game.

It's the same reflex - your hands come up to protect your face. Someone scares you from behind? It's a similar reflex, but you 'turtle' your head a little bit and your hands still come up. A few of them are doing it in the picture. How does this protect you? If someone tries to put you in a headlock from behind, they can't get to your windpipe. A drill we did with a partner was to have someone come up from behind you and put you in a headlock (loosely!) so you know what it feels like. Next time, when you SEE them coming, you flinch; another time, when you HEAR them coming, you flinch; and lastly, when you FEEL them coming, you flinch as they put you in a headlock each time.

SEE - their arm coming around. use your peripheral vision.
HEAR - their breathing, a shuffle of their feet, their clothes/jacket making noise.
FEEL - they brush your hair or clothes or bump into you as they try to reach around you. Or you just have that 'sixth sense' feeling that someone is behind you.

We did the drill with the attackee standing, but you can do it that way, or with both people walking, as if the attackee were being followed.

So you're in a headlock, what do you do? First off, your windpipe is (hopefully) protected, so you could scream. Can you tell which arm is around your neck? If so, reach back with your opposite hand and jab them in the face. *Try to stay to the right of the person when you put them in a headlock with your right arm. Difficult? Hence, reaching back with the opposite hand*. Why not jab them in the eye? That's the goal, but if you aim small you're going to miss big. Get them off balance, maybe letting go of one hand to cover their injured eye, and use your other hand to pry their arm away from your neck and face them.

Now what? Oh, so many options that involve the groin, the face, kicking, punching, screaming, etc. They didn't tell us what to do 'now'; your body will know what to do and will do something. We did, though, when in a situation like this, try a few things. You're facing them with their right wrist in your hand, so you could 1. kick them in the groin or the shin, 2. stomp on their foot, 3. punch them in the bicep, chest, face, 4. bend the fingers back on the hand you're holding. But why not bend just their pinkie or index finger? Why not hit them in noise with the palm of your hand? Why not aim for their fibula when kicking them in the shin? Because if you aim small, you're going to miss big. I thought of the movie Kill Bill when The Bride, Uma Thurman, was buried alive. It would've been great if she had an ax with her to get out of the wooden coffin, but all she had was the knife, flashlight, and her fists. In such close quarters, she was able to punch repeatedly until she (unrealistically) freed herself. What I thought about was the fact that you don't need a big wind up to make a punch effective. There might've been weaker points on the coffin, but she worked on the one that was closest. So as much as you'd love to nail them in the nuts with your pointy toed shoes, a closer body part might be a better option - that finger bend or foot stomp.

This was just one of the techniques/situations that we practiced. Another was the 'flinching' when being attacked from the front and how to play 'keep away' with a gun or knife.

It was interesting being paired up with my GF. I did accidentally poke her in the eye when she put me in a headlock, but I blame it on the adrenaline and wanting to get out of that situation. Her shoulders and neck were sore 2 days later from trying to fend me off.. she also has a bum shoulder, but still! I'd like to think I made her work a little.

It was a good event for the price, and was definitely worth my time. If you're looking for something more physical with more 'role playing', keep an eye on their website for upcoming events. I hope to attend more sessions like this in the future just in case I encounter someone from that 3% group again.


Post a Comment

<< Home