Exploring the “Dark” Archetypes with Empowerment Self-Defense

Learning Our Power & Unlearning Socialized Disempowerment

Toby Israel


Image Courtesy of Author, Toby Israel

In an introductory empowerment self-defense workshop, I don’t have time to talk about some of the deeper themes connected to this work. There are already so many decisions to make about what to include and what to leave out in order to create a complete experience in just two or three hours.

Writing, as well as multi-day immersive courses, gives me the opportunity to explore some of the social, political, and spiritual themes that complement the ESD (empowerment self-defense) methodology.

The following is a brief excerpt from my book, “Vagabondess: A Guide to Solo Female Travel,” in the chapter on safety. It is the beginning of a large — and for me critical — conversation about the inner and cultural work that occurs when we learn self-defense.


When we teach girls to never fight, never get angry, never say no, never be wild, we raise a generation of women who struggle to defend themselves — women who cannot yell, fight, and raise hell when their survival depends on it.