Tag Archives: self defense

E-Book and Video Series update

I’ve been working on getting the classroom portion of our introductory course tuned up and reformatting for electronic readers (and as a downloadable PDF, for those who haven’t jumped onto the e-reader bandwagon yet). Our introductory course is divided into two parts – a “lecture” portion where we discuss self-defense and empowerment ideas, theories, female warrior role models and a “hands-on” portion where we demonstrate and practice specific self-defense techniques. While the lecture portion lends itself pretty easily to the e-book format, we’ve been toying with the idea of making a series of short videos demonstrating the self-defense techniques. I’m torn about that, though, because while being able to see us explain and demonstrate the moves on a video will certainly make it easier to understand , there really is no substitute for being in the workshop and receiving personalized, hands-on coaching and immediate feedback. Do you think it will take away from or cheapen the workshop experience to provide video demonstrations along with the e-book?

And on that note, if you know any great YouTube content creators who might be interested in helping us with that project, I’d love to hear from them. Feel free to put them in touch with me here in the comments, on our Facebook page or via email at StirTheEmbers at gmail dot com.


New Workshop in Development

We are excited to announce that we have a new workshop in development, tentatively titled “Self Defense for Walkers and Runners” and inspired by a post over at Beth’s “Shut Up and Run” blog (http://www.shutupandrun.net/2012/06/another-running-tragedy-how-to-stay.html). I encourage you to go read the post for yourself (and the rest of Beth’s posts, if you’re a runner!), but the short version is that there have been some high profile news stories of women being attacked and killed while running alone and many female runners are interested in taking steps to protect themselves rather than stop running (or moving indoors to a treadmill). Over the past weekend, a few of our Stir the Embers facilitators and friends were discussing some of the ways both male and female runners and walkers can stay safe while they’re outside exercising, and it occurred to us that many of the things we already teach in our Introductory self-defense workshop are easily adapted for walkers and runners. Add to that some strong interest from members of another fitness group I’m active in, and we have the beginnings of a brand new class!

We envision a one-time, half-day workshop (with lunch and a notebook included) that would cover some basic, practical self-defense theory and strategies, and some hands-on practice and training of specific defense techniques. We want to especially focus on using our bodies and voices to our advantage, since most of us run or walk wearing and carrying as little as possible. We want to cover how to avoid being a victim of violence and different levels of threats. And, like our Introductory workshop, we want to make sure the things we teach are practical, easy to remember, and realistic.

What sort of things would you expect to learn in a one-time, half-day self-defense class like this? Would you be comfortable in a co-ed class of both walkers and runners, or would you prefer one specifically tailored to men or women, walkers or runners? Do you think a one-time class would be enough or would you be interested in regular (weekly? monthly?) reminders via email, text, Facebook post, etc.?

We’d love to hear your thoughts!


Winning the Fight vs. Surviving the Encounter

Going to a self defense class does not teach you martial arts. Conversely, while a martial arts practitioner who has spent a significant amount of time training will undoubtedly be in a better position to defend themselves, everything they learned in the dojo is unlikely to be of use in a street fight. This should not be taken as a dismissal of a traditional martial arts training path. Far from it, we at Stir The Embers encourage our participants to search out training of all kinds and highly recommend some time spent learning any martial arts form.

We teach the self defense theories and moves we do because we have found that these moves offer the highest effective return on the time most participants spend training with us. We sometimes hear from workshop participants who’ve demonstrated one of the techniques they’ve learned in our workshop to someone else (usually a martial artist) and are told, “That’s not the way to do it,” or “There is a better way to do that,” and, of course, my favorite, “That shit wouldn’t work! See, I’ll show you,” followed by a demonstration of their self-defense move of choice. Let me be very clear – nothing we teach is the only way, nor is it always the “Best Way” and NO technique is 100% effective 100% of the time. We teach what we do because it is the most effective technique for the training time our participants have committed to it.

In our introductory workshop, we teach ways to defend against an innocuous assault. This means that the attack is not necessarily overt or even recognizable. As we mention in our workshop, most attacks on women are from people they know. Our introductory workshop is all about showing participants how to create distance and respond to that innocuous assault with the appropriate amount of force so that they don’t appear to be “overreacting” (more on that misconception in another post) and in a way that is less likely to provoke an escalated response.

Self defense is about survival, not winning. It is about meeting a threat in a way that allows you to escape and survive. Despite what we’ve learned from movies, TV shows, comic books and the like, self defense is not pretty and there are no points for style. I have studied many martial arts over the past several years and have researched the reality of life and death physical conflicts by reading accounts and searching out footage of actual confrontations. What I have discovered is sobering. It doesn’t matter how “bad” you are, there is always someone worse. No matter how much you train you can still be surprised by that “lucky punch,” and no matter what we see in the media or how much we would like it to be different, there is no such thing as a “fair fight” when the fight is for keeps.

In our intermediate workshop, we start discussing more serious responses which draw from a variety of martial arts and combat techniques. No matter what technique is used, they are all based on the concept of “Always Cheat, Always Win.” Nothing we teach our participants is designed for standing toe to toe with an aggressor and winning. Those techniques are more appropriate for the fighting arts and sport combat. Instead, we teach participants to use every strength they have against their opponent’s weaknesses. We want them to bite, scratch , stab, cut, smash and use every dirty trick they can. In short, we want them to survive.

A 200 lb. man is afraid of a 50 lb. dog, because the dog comes at him without hesitation. It does not fight fair and can only bite, but the man backs away because he doesn’t want to be bitten. Our participants are taught to do the same – to use the resources they have at their disposal without hesitation in order to escape and survive an encounter.

We don’t teach martial arts, we teach survival. It’s dirty, mean, and nasty, but if you remember the ideas behind what we teach, you are much more likely to survive.