A Woman’s view of self protection / self defence

Written by Paula. Posted in Black Belt Research Project 2013, Self Defence

black belt grading,judo in basingstoke,karate,ladies martial arts,martial arts club in basingstoke,self protection, self defence, success, Paula ClarkeBlack Belt Grading Project 2013

Paula Clarke

My grading project comprises of the huge topic that is self-defence / self-protection and under this heading to look at Habitual acts of violence (HAOV) perpetrated against different types of society and how does the area we live in rank for these acts and how do we as individuals defend against these, physically and maybe more importantly mentally ?

(Admin’s Note:- As part of the Black Belt grading requirements in 2013, candidates will have to complete and publish a given research project where they have to justify and prove all conclusions that they arrive at.

The aim of this is to challenge the individual on a personal basis to broaden and deepen their knowledge base over a longer period of time and ultimately with the goal to significantly improve their physical and non-physical skills.)

To do this I wanted to understand how I feel about self-defence, this may seem like an odd comment to make given that I’m a woman, don’t we all know how we feel about this? well I’m a realist to look at me you may think well she’s got it covered, I’m  5’11 ( some may say 6ft) let’s face it not so skinny, and working towards  black belt in karate, so I should be able to handle myself faced with an attack right ?

Well truth be told I have no idea?! It’s always been something that is not at the forefront of my mind because of all the reasons listed above, who would pick on me when they could pick the skinny 5ft4 girl standing next to me?  I’ve never been attacked and god willing never will be, but being the over analytical realist that I am, I have to face the very real fact that there are men out there who could overpower me and if you combine that with the element of surprise and my unpreparedness could sneak up on me, or that by playing on a sympathetic (yes sometimes) nature could fool me!

Could I fight off this type of man/ woman / group?

Could I stop what some might argue is inevitable?

Who knows,  I certainly don’t, not yet, however I would hope that based on the limited knowledge I have and the limited skills I have, and by that I mean that whatever I have learnt in the last three years in karate is still limited, I’m still learning. But has my training enabled that primal instinct of protection to kick in, that I would defend myself to the best of my abilities. I have no doubt that I would want to have the presence of mind to leave as much evidence on my attacker as he may leave on me. I would want my children and family to know that I fought, for them or myself, in the case of protection for my children I would fight until my dying breath.  I would want my daughters to know that a woman can stick up for herself can defend herself can be confident and powerful in the face of adversity.

But how do we do that?
In my opinion confidence is a key element, confidence in knowing that whatever you do will help your situation where as doing nothing is never going to help.

By this I don’t mean faced with a knife or gun that you should rush in all Jackie Chan and hope to disarm him, no, but instead have the presence of mind to be using the part of you that an attacker has no physical control over, your brain, your intellect, and keep this aspect of you alert and in full use at all time.

To me this means continually assessing your situation, if your assailant has a knife for example think to yourself,

 “At some point he will put it down”

 “At some point he may think he doesn’t need it”

“Could I persuade him through my actions that he does not need the knife?”

 “Will I be able to kick it away?”
If this aspect is too hard to contemplate in the face of an attack maybe you could you have the presence of mind to notice key details of your assailant such as?

What he is wearing?

How tall is he?  Can you judge his height based on how much taller/shorter than you he is?

Does he have a tattoo? A wedding ring?

Is there a smell that is distinctive to him/her, an aftershave or perfume or cigarettes?

All of these things can be vital components in catching and prosecuting an offender, this is something I know to be true based on a personal experience and evidence used to convict a man my husband and I used to work with.

He is currently serving life in prison.

This incident in question is one that taught me a valuable lesson in life and relevant to this project, don’t assume the “evil” out there is confined to strangers it is entirely likely that a potential attacker is someone you know, someone with a good job, a family, a position of trust.  Maybe the lesson is to always be on your guard?

But all of this relies on you “the victim”


But all of this relies on you “the witness”


But all if this relies on you “the one in charge of you”
Who do you want to be? I don’t think I would ever want to be described as the victim I would want to be described as the one who fought back the one who noticed enough to enable an assailant to be caught the one who was in charge of enough to mentally help me cope in the aftermath of any attack.

But is this even possible to be confident and strong, and have a clear mind when faced with a worst case scenario and those horrible feelings well up inside you, Fear!

Fear has the ability to cripple us to disable us to turn normal well balanced people into shaking wrecks, in short is this key to how well we deal with a situation? Over the course of this project one aspect I aim to look at is the anatomy of fear, what is does to our bodies physically and mentally and is there a way that we can overcome this?


How do we face fear

Forget Everything And Run


Face Everything And Rise

The choice is ours, isn’t it?


So in order to complete my project, I aim to look at the following areas,

1. What is a Habitual act of violence (HAOV)?

Essentially, it is an act which is repeatedly seen to be used in a given situation, but is this different for men and women and different again for teenagers?

2. Crime Statistics

Do we live in a safe town? Is there such a thing? What are we more likely to face living in Basingstoke and does this differ from town to town?

3. Fear and Confidence

Are they the key to how we deal with any situation? Does how much you have of one directly relate to how much of the other you can have? Does being a more confident person make you less afraid?

4. Self-Protection

An entirely different concept to self-defence, it is the ability to acknowledge your actions and to safeguard them in other words preparing yourself and those around you to any dangers, for example is it a good idea to let people know where you are going when you go out to walk the dog, how long you intend to be, this way people will be alerted when you don’t return.

5. Self-defence

The end result of doing everything you can to avoid a situation preparing as much as you can but the worst has happened, so what do you do now, in what ways can you defend yourself against a variety of approaches / attacks.  What do you have on you that could be used as a weapon to aid that defence.

I intend to be very ‘ground level’ on this topic, by this I mean talking to people such as the police to gain their knowledge of local events and how they interpret crime statistics, which suggest Basingstoke is a relatively safe place to live.  Also talking to normal people about their fears and possible experiences, did they react or cope as they thought they would.


Finally culminating the year with a class hand out to accompany a self-defence class, which currently has two very novice pupils roped in already!


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