Finding Your Voice

The karate school participated in a self-defense course for the Girl Scout Jamboree in Hollywood a while ago. The classes for the girls included verbal defensive response skills as well as physical training. The girls were allowed to ask questions and many eagerly participated in the give and take of the sessions. Real-life examples of successful escape scenarios were used to illustrate the thesis that it is always better to resist capture no matter what. Part of what makes a predator back off and give up is when the proposed victim does not cooperate; but instead fights hard by yelling, punching, kicking. In one true incident that we related to the scouts the child who was abducted was only ten years old. She and her younger brother were forced into a car by the assailant; but she did not give up. She kicked, punched, scratched and yelled so loudly that the kidnapper let her and her brother out of his car after driving only one block as she was attracting so much attention. She told the police his car license plate number and he was arrested and prosecuted.
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(Young children can learn powerful assertive techniques to be safe and strong.)
It was interesting to observe the differences in how the girl scouts responded to the drills in which they were instructed to participate. In the martial arts it is very important to exhale forcefully when executing a technique and to kiai (yell) when instructed to do so. Some of the girls had no problem with this; yet others were shy, and when asked to kiai were actually unable to utter a single sound, in spite of repeated attempts to encourage them. Even being in a room full of other girls who were yelling loudly did not incite them to make a noise or to breathe out. Consequently, in a real-life situation they might prove to be under-rehearsed and less likely to succeed in their defense. In Martial arts training it is crucial to teach students how to breathe properly and also how to find their voice. We practice similar drills in the Dojo at all levels of training and it is essential that students comprehend the importance of this practice.
While visiting the world-famous Hippocrates Health Institute recently in West Palm Beach I listened to a short talk by its Director Brian Clements, who has studied health and diet and exercise for over forty years. His speech was interesting and informative; it was surprising to hear him say that the most important element in recovery from an illness is the patient’s belief that they deserve to get well. Similarly, a young person’s belief that they deserve to be safe and strong is important in defending themselves in a close encounter with a potential assailant. “I am safe; I am strong” was
imprinted on the front of the special tee shirts that Girl Scouts wore at the Jamboree and it makes a good motto for our young students too.
Martial Arts training gives students the idea that they can and should defend themselves, and provides a practical means for doing just that. They learn that they can feel safe as a result of the skills that they practice regularly in class and that they can be strong because of a training regimen that builds muscular, emotional and mental strength.
Shihan Robert H. Mason © 2017