Ideas for SD demo for abused women

Discussion in 'Women's Self Defence' started by Remi Lessore, Jul 4, 2014.

  1. 47MartialMan

    47MartialMan Valued Member

    Teaching abused or a specialized group is far ,far different than teaching other subjects, no matter TA (reference)

    In my humble/respect opinion, I do not think you are qualified in this field based upon your posts and information gathering
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2014
  2. Remi Lessore

    Remi Lessore Valued Member

    I wanted to let those who had expressed an interest know by PM. But the PM mechanism only allows for a certain number of characters and breaking this down is too long and tedious.
    To those who only want to disapprove, you have had your say. Constructive criticism is still welcome. Don't do it, or don't do it again is not.

    There was some uncertainty from the Centre as to whether as a man I should attend at all. The centre started by saying only a female instructor should come but the woman we wanted to send could not guarantee her availability at the right time.
    The centre consulted with the service users and was happy that I come with a male student to act as my ‘attacker’. However, at the last moment the female student was free so I went with her as my partner instead, which was much better.
    We met early with the Centre manager and discussed what we were going to do. She was happy to listen to my partner who is very intelligent and has done a little work for us at a women’s refugee centre.
    There was some previous hesitation from the centre as to whether I should talk openly about having been in the police. On the one hand the centre felt it could give me credibility, on the other I pointed out that many of the women both DV victims and SWs would have had a negative experience of the police and that it might not help.

    But this also needed to be balanced with the fact that I have worked near that area and there was a slim chance that some of the women might know me or mention my uncommon name to someone who did. There was then a risk that I be perceived as a snitch or undercover or something. While I was moonlighting in a school, another member of staff mentioned that I was a police officer and the kids were effervescent. It took ages to calm them down.
    So, in order to avoid this sort of scenario I suggested to the centre that I just be up front about my experience. They accepted this.

    I do not want to talk about the women because part of my agreement with them was that I would not. So, what follows is occasionally deliberately vague.

    I introduced myself and I began following the plan pretty much as described in the thread. [NB. The plan detail is mine, following A.'s advice - it is not hers that I have simply copied. I also believe that plans should not be set in stone, they need to be adapted as a class progresses. If something is working it might be prolonged, if it is not it should be curtailed or modified.] When I asked them for their names I could see that most were really quite shy. I was a bit worried about the challenge of getting them to use the big command voice that Adrastia suggested followed by the physical activity.

    I pointed out that we would be doing various things and that all they would need to do in order to not participate is raise a hand and say so. No questions. They could rejoin when they wanted to.
    Also, on the basis of the shyness I did not feel confident to ask any of them to write on the flipchart.

    Adrastia asked me to say what surprised me about the class.
    Well, I would not say that it surprised me, but what the Centre conceived of as SD and what I planned and then delivered were not exactly the same. They seemed to expect more physical activity and I knew it had to be contextualised and part of the context is my ‘teaching’ relationship with students.

    It is my teaching style to be very open, to talk about my experiences, family, etc. (I don’t hand out my address!) I have found that this invites trust (and occasional abuse). That trust, for me, is essential to a class wanting to learn. I know that this is not the only way. There are very competent teachers for whom teaching and learning are all about structure and activities and who say nothing personal.
    So in the evaluation the Centre suggested that in subsequent sessions I should reveal nothing about my life – about the area where I live, about my past experience (including teaching and police), etc. I do not entirely agree that this is the best way, as the intention was to ask them to draw from personal experience (and if I was unwilling to, why should they?) but that is also how the centre works and I will go along with it. They call it keeping the relationship professional.

    The interaction and identifying dangers and safety mechanisms went well. They were savvy as I had expected.

    In the voice exercise I was somewhat surprised at the vocal meekness of some them. I have found this in victims of recent crime (where it is to be expected), but the women I deal with in my classes are normally very forthright, or discover they can be very quickly. The big voice was harder to get going for some than I had anticipated – I suppose for some, their experience is that being (or seeming) cowed is safer than speaking up. However, the voice exercise did work on the day for nearly all, and even those for whom it remained difficult in the short time we had to practice clearly found such joy in the others shouting deeply and with authority, that some of their confidence rubbed off on all.

    They were very interested in the physical interaction between my partner and myself (I played the bad guy). I reminded them that they already knew how to stay safe – and that was first and foremost to avoid the situation we were now practicing. I invited them to apply pressure to their own noses and throats to understand that striking these areas could buy a couple of seconds in which to escape. I emphasised that I was not teaching them to fight a man, but to grab a moment in which to escape. We demonstrated the escape every time we demonstrated the strikes.

    What did surprise me was that teaching the moves (strikes to the face/neck) and pushing past to escape was easier than I expected. Their motor skills were mostly fine, or easy to correct. Striking the pads went well for most. I invited them to tell each other when they were starting to generate power. My partner went round with me correcting posture (arms relaxed, feet, pushing through with the rear leg). When some realised that the speed of the strike and turning their hips was far more relevant than the strength of their arm that released them and it went surprisingly well. Others will need far more practice.

    Adrastia said that this activity went better than expected because of the prior shouting and big voice exercise. This had given them confidence and it is an aspect that is often neglected by (often male) MA instructors. I believe this and knew from my TKD that shouting is useful to application of energy. We use it very rarely in KM, although we do breath out on the strike, sometimes with a grunt on impact when working pads. This is good for release and bio-mechanics but the actual shout must also be useful. I will have to rethink this.

    What I did nor give time for was a more comprehensive plenary.
    I had intended to ask them to recap on the most useful among the safety behaviours they had identified, and time went by with the strikes which they seemed to enjoy so much that I did not bring the lesson back in time to take my time at the end.
    I did ask if they had any questions. Most of them sat there smiling and shaking their heads. I did answer a couple but it was very brief.
    I thanked them and reiterated my appreciation of their work and respect for trying something new.

    They rejoined friends who were in another part of the room. I watched them interact. They were chatting and laughing...
    The later evaluation from the centre was that they had enjoyed themselves. The felt empowered by shouting from the navel. Some asked for further sessions.

    To be reconsidered was the introduction and what the centre terms ‘professional’. I may differ somewhat, but I would go along with what they say. A. they may be right and B. It is their gig anyway.

    For my part, I am on the whole happy with the way the session went. Some learned something physically useful, all were affirmed in their right to be safe and confident.

    In retrospect I would involve my partner more – she could have spoken more. She did not put herself forward to do so, preferring to observe but she is credible, articulate and intelligent, and it would have been good for them to hear from a confident woman.
    I would write up my own evaluation more quickly. I intended to, but got snowed down by other things and writing this a few days later was a bit of a struggle.

    Possibly to be continued.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2014
  3. Simon

    Simon Administrator Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    Remi, I'm glad it went well, especially with the potential for problems with this type of group.

    I would have definitely expected vocal meekness and my own experience is that being forthright is an issue for the many, even martial arts students.

    I've seen this in SIM days I've attended with jwt and indeed in my own classes.

    Have you had any feedback in regard to follow up sessions?
  4. GenghisK

    GenghisK Jiu Jitsu Kempoka

    A very interesting write up, thank you for taking the time to do so, as I certainly have learned quite a lot from this thread.

    Picking up on a few points that interest me in what you've said:-

    Secrecy: personally I hate excessive secrecy with a vengeance and think that you were absolutely right to be open about your background and experience. Any more concealement than necessary to protect yourself (as you say, you didn't say where you live) would just degrade their trust in you. So, I agree with you. After all, these women are victims, not criminals!

    Uke/Tori: again I can see why using your female student as tori with you as her uke a lot of the time seems to me to have been a very good idea. Personally I do find it difficult when I do something similar to ensure that I shut up enough, and that my senior student feels sufficiently empowered to take control of the class when they need to. Sounds like you have a similar and entirely understandable issue there.

    Kiai: well yes! The majority of martial arts (or for that matter lawn tennis) teach the use of shouting / explosive release of breath to increase the power available in a technique. But your use of specific voice coaching before technique teaching is an interesting idea - clearly worked for you and might work for some others of us.

    SD: I'm not surprised that your views and the centre's of what SD is differed. In my experience until they've analysed the issues deeply, the vast majority of people think that SD is basically about the physical.

    - I hope that they invite you back, as it really does sound like you did something worthwhile, well.

    - I shall certainly read anything else you have to say on the subject in the future.

    My respects,

  5. Simon

    Simon Administrator Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    I think the use of a kiai is very different to using your voice in an assertive manner.

    Everyone's experience will vary, but I've seen more than a few competent students just not able to deliver a, "back off" with enough of an assertive manner to even convince themselves, let alone an aggressor.

    I think it's even harder as the pressure mounts. So simple enough in theory during regular class, but when faced by a real threat it just isn't the same.

    This is one of the reasons one off SD classes are so difficult. You don't know the crowd and don't have time to work with them.
  6. GenghisK

    GenghisK Jiu Jitsu Kempoka

    They are different, but related.

    My brother, a reasonably experienced martial artist and also formerly a schoolteacher, had an interesting experience a few years ago when a child decided to start waving a bladed weapon around in the classroom. My brother solved it (as reported to me) essentially by projecting very loud and strong verbal instructions at the student until he submitted (to being frogmarched, sans blade, to the headmaster's office) - without laying a finger on the student.

    Not the same thing, but the use of voice to project and increase impact is a range of linked techniques, in my opinion.

  7. Southpaw535

    Southpaw535 Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    Its a bit of a shame the centre wants a more professional approach. I agree with you that having an instructor who's open makes a difference and I imagine that had to have helped being a male instructor for those students. But, assuming if you did more sessions you'd be teaching the same women, they already know it now so hopefully it won't make too much of a difference.

    Sounds like it went well. That was a very interesting read.
  8. Southpaw535

    Southpaw535 Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    Speaking of effectiveness of assertive voices, I think you were at one of the DART days Simon when Smurf was a "civilian" as it were and used a commanding voice to get a knife off one of the people who had stripped it from the attacker and Smurf then used it to attack him. That was a good show of how useful a powerful voice an be.
  9. Remi Lessore

    Remi Lessore Valued Member

    follow up

    If there is a follow-up it will not be till September at the earliest.
    I've go two books by De Becker and one by Consterdine to get through in the meantime.
  10. philosoraptor

    philosoraptor carnivore in a top hat Supporter

    Sounds like it went well! I think it was a great idea to be open about your experiences. Most folks are sensitive to when they feel like something is being concealed, and that sort of feeling can be poisonous.
  11. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    Are you sure? I am not. And I don't think Remi can clarify with privacy issues involved. He said some of these women are breaking away from the sex industry. Well, that could mean several things, some of which may very well be illegal.

    Frankly, if that means they are breaking awy from prostitution in a place where it is illegal, then they were involved in activity where they were considered criminals and would understandably avoid or be wary of the police. And Remi has past experience as a police officer.

    That said, I personally think his philosophy of openness is better. I mean, if anyone finds out or saw him on the job, and it was hidden, I think it would hurt the trust he is trying to build.

    But I am no expert on the subject..............I would be curious what Simon, JWT, or Andrastia think about it.
  12. John Titchen

    John Titchen Still Learning Supporter

    Smurf shouts at the chap on the sofa at the end of this video. The combined effect of shouting is also visible.

    Using the voice is both incredibly simple and incredibly difficult. Its success in ending/deterring a situation will depend on a number of factors, not least
    the volume and pitch of the command/voice
    the accompanying body language of the person speaking
    the size of the person speaking
    how used the recipient of 'the voice' is to being shouted at
    the mental associations the person being shouted at has with being shouted at
    the hormonal and emotional state of the person being shouted at
    the mental picture/experience the person being shouted at has of the person shouting

    Obviously above I'm referring to 'shouting', as opposed to calm use of the voice to indicate control and a lack of intimidation.

    It is an excellent tactic, but it can backfire and it is easy to muck up. It is worth developing however as imagining the sort of voice/poise you want to have, and practicing that in class, can not only improve confidence but also competence. The body language often comes before the effective 'voice' (and is more important in any case) and that body language is one of the most important steps in hard targetting and repairing damaged self esteem.
  13. John Titchen

    John Titchen Still Learning Supporter

    Honesty is the best approach.
  14. John Titchen

    John Titchen Still Learning Supporter


    Glad it ran smoothly.

    John Titchen
  15. LemonSloth

    LemonSloth Laugh and grow fat!

    Same here.

    I think Adrastria deserves a lot of credit as well.
  16. GenghisK

    GenghisK Jiu Jitsu Kempoka

    Well they're certainly not there in the capacity of criminals, and we have a much vaunted principle in most of the western world called "innocent until proven guilty".

    Anyhow, we all see to agree on the basic principle of openness.

  17. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    You are missing the point.

    The possible issue is their possible unease with someone with a background in law enforcement due to their possible illegal activities and the attitude towards the law that comes with that.

    Also, being in an environment where one can be abused (say by a pimp) and can't turn to the police due to their own activities.

    It isn't a judgement being passed on them. It isn't about them being prosecuted for any crimes. So your whole "innocent until proven guilty" has no relevance to the issue at hand. It is about their mindset based on their background. And if they come from a background where they were doing something illegal, it might affect their perspective and whom they trust. Or how to build that trust despite backgrounds that may make it more diffiucult.

    I don't think prostitution amongst adults should be illegal anyways, but that would be another topic entirely.
  18. Remi Lessore

    Remi Lessore Valued Member

    I did not ask the centre what their thinking was. I understand what Aaradia is saying and it may apply. However I got the feeling it was a more general policy that may also apply to the Centre staff as well. Police and teachers are often the same. The professional line is not to be crossed.
    I do not blame them. They really may be right. Some people's lives are so chaotic that even what they perceive as a personal relationship can be counter-productive. They would not want them, for example, forming emotional bonds or expecting staff to let them into their lives as friends.
    I can see the merits of this distance but it feels artificial and I have not always kept it. I have never had cause to regret it, thank God. But some might say I have been lucky.
  19. GenghisK

    GenghisK Jiu Jitsu Kempoka

    Maybe, maybe not. I think we're all in agreement about the conclusion, but maybe not the arguments.

    Another argument might be one of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Treat people like they can't be trusted, and they start acting that way as well.

    I'm not an expert, but I don't think it is (in Britain) - although a third party making money from it and some associated antisocial behaviours are. And yes it would.

    Last edited: Jul 21, 2014
  20. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Some of you guys have some rather clichéd and generic ideas of what a victim of abuse is like. It came accross as rather patronising.

    They are not all cracked china dolls, and they can make decisions just like any other autonomous adult.

    One of my students has worked for a number of years at a refuge centre for abused women. Many of her clients are gang members who have a history of violence themselves, others are just incredibly tough because they have had to be.

    Yes, anxiety triggers are more of an issue with victims of abuse, but don't presume you can second-guess what any group of people will be like to teach.

    Also, these centres are not prisons. Self-defence classes are not compulsary. If any of them don't like it, they can walk out. Just like any other person.

    Personally, I can't really fault Remi; he was asked for help, he saught good counsel, he delivered something which hopefully will help those women in some way. That's a pretty good job done, no?

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