Friday, February 3, 2012

Women's Self Preservation

Sharon Sanghera (of Vincit Magazine) and I just launched the Women's Self Preservation Program.  Last weekend we presented a seminar called, Venus Tactical Training, which covers incident prevention, de-escalization and self-defense.  It's cool to work with a room full of women on movement and mental strategy to become more aware of safety and surroundings.  The Women's Self Preservation  Program also offers courses and material on exercise, nutrition, mindfulness, empowerment and leadership.

I never thought much about doing single sex programming before even though I went to a women's college.  One thing that got my attention was an interview I did with the Sweaty Betties and Leticia Ribeiro for Vincit Magazine.  The Sweaty Betties are a women's only grappling group affiliated with the Gracie Humaita fight team.  They brought 6 x World Champion Leticia Ribeiro to South San Francisco for a women's only grappling camp back in December.  The experience of 60+ female grapplers learning from a female world champion was unforgettable.  The Betties conveyed what it was like to train almost exclusively with men and the breakthroughs that suddenly occurred when they made a point to train with other women.  

I have been grappling/practicing BJJ for about seven years now, and for much of my instruction I have been one of very few women on the mat (this is changing).  My process around grappling began with getting used to full contact and spacial awareness.  My childhood socialization did not cover it and one season of recreational rugby barely scratched the surface.  I remember my first boxing experience around the same time - I was learning to spar and every time I threw a punch I would laugh and apologize.  It was automatic.  I remember noticing that the guys were not having that problem.  It took a few months to feel as though I had reached neutral ground in my relationship to the contact that occurs in combat sports.  More girls are being raised with the option to explore these sports, but it will still be a long time before this becomes common.  Sport participation or not, girls and women should have a sense of the space around them, know how to "hold base" (maintain balance) and space, and be reasonably prepared to handle physical contact if necessary. 

Creating a space for women to learn to defend themselves is powerful.  It creates a safe container to develop physical awareness with others doing exactly the same thing.  This is not martial arts, per se, but it is human movement, mindset and emotion.  We do have men in the class assisting, and we will open some programs in the future.  Right now, the specificity is compelling and effective.

We look forward to evolving this project, and we are excited about what is possible.  Info on upcoming seminars may be found on our website, our FaceBook page, and Twitter: @WSPreservation.

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