Why Women Need More Than Krav Maga

The Female Empowerment-Self-Defense Revolution

Don’t get me wrong. I think Krav Maga is super bad-ass. To all you ladies training in Krav, MMA, or anything else, serious, serious props. I have been training in main-stream martial arts since the age of 8 and I hope I do until I die.

But let’s face it. Those arts are the man’s game. They teach you how to fight the fights that men fight. Like a man. If any woman training in Krav Maga encounters a knife attack, a gun attack, or someone looking for a brawl, she will probably break his arm and make him eat dust. Incapacitate him until the lazy police arrive. And that makes me super happy. So what’s missing?

Let’s go back to my childhood training. Since age 8, I knew how to punch to the solar plexus , and I knew how to kick to the face. I did a stunningly beautiful Kata. I knew how to put on my fierce face. I knew how to yell “Kiyai” at the top of my little lungs.

But sadly, so sadly, none of these things helped me when, at a family dinner with my boyfriend, his grandfather YES, read: old man “accidentally” groped my breast.

Did I learn in Karate that men use confusion as a tool to get away with sexual harassment? No.

Did I learn that even if it is someone towards whom I am meant to show utmost respect, that respect is null and void the moment he engages in that type of behavior? No.

Did I learn that I have a right to yell and make a scene and ruin the joyful “moment” at a family gathering? No.

Did I learn that unwanted touch is an attack on my body- one on the same level of violence as any other attack we learn to defend against in the dojo? No.

Was I given options for how to deal with a situation where I was faced with an attacker I was supposed to be able to trust? Surrounded by people who were supposed to keep me safe? No, no, and no.

And it’s not their fault. Martial arts has been developed in the minds of men. Men whom I respect so much, but who have not an inkling of a clue about what it is like to navigate this world in a woman’s body.

Let’s face the sad statistics for women today. 1/1 have faced some form of sexual harassment. 1/3- physical sexual harassment. 1/5–6 rape. Out of all those attackers, less than 6٪ used a weapon.

Over 80% of those attackers were known to the victim. Why? Because the closer and more intimate you are with someone, the easier it is for them to take advantage of your trust and confuse you, and the less likely you are to use violence to stop them.

Women are facing a completely different type of fight. One that generally doesn’t go down in the parking lot of a bar, in the alleyway of a bad neighborhood, with a creep who she wouldn’t dream of letting near. It’s one that happens in a house behind a closed door. In a place where she is meant to be safe. One where the attacker wants something personal. One where the attacker feels entitled. One where the attacker uses tools such as confusion, trust, boundary testing, dependency, threats, bribes, drugs, shaming, and secrecy, in order to prey on a gender less inclined to use violence, and more inclined to be accommodating.

A black belt will help you in a bar brawl or a street fight. But let’s focus on what is about 15 times more prevalent: what will help you on your third date after he’s come in for a “glass of water” ?

  1. Knowing what your boundary is.
  2. Respecting your own boundary.
  3. Loving yourself, recognizing your self worth and the value of that boundary.
  4. Recognizing your right to autonomy over your own body.
  5. Being intimately connected with your voice and knowing that what you have to say is important and should be taken seriously.
  6. Knowing that you have the right to change your mind no matter what you agreed to.
  7. Knowing that sex is not something you can owe anyone, ever. You are not a sex worker.
  8. Knowing that you have permission to trust your own intuition.
  9. Concrete tools for establishing a clear assertive boundary.
  10. Knowing that your body is not weaker than a man’s, it is just built differently.
  11. Knowing how to use your female build to exert immense power and energy.
  12. Knowing the most effective way to physically damage and incapacitate an attacker.

All I learned, in every dojo I encountered, until I was introduced to Empowerment Self Defense at the age of 24, was #10.

Do you see what’s wrong with that picture?

It’s time for women to take the field of martial arts and effect some serious change for the betterment of human rights and a safer world. The time is now.

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