7 Dictums of what NOT to teach in self-defense for WOMEN

After the Guwahati molestation and Delhi gang rape, more women are enquiring about self-defense courses. This blog post is to warn those women. They could end up with martial-arts schools which will actually put them in greater danger, when they try to repel a sexual aggressor.

Many martial arts instructors DON'T understand the specific problems of women, like -
1- The average Women is SMALLER than the average Man
2- The Woman will be under extreme FEAR and STRESS during a sexual attack
3- Most Women are PUT OFF by Violence; so, learning to fight does NOT appeal to them
4- Most Women DON'T see themselves as capable of fighting a bigger & aggressive Man
The martial-arts instructor should factor in this reality before making a curriculum for women. But do they?
The emphatic answer is a big "NO"!

Recently I saw a video of a self-promoted martial-arts guru, in Chennai, who is offering a course for women.
The scenario - Knife-threat to woman's throat by a probable rapist.
Step 1 -The instructor showed a technique where the attacked woman nonchalantly bends the thumb of the attacker's hand which is holding the knife! At the same time, she also steps on the attacker's toes and cuts his mobility!!
Step 2 - The attacker immediately falls to the ground writhing in apparent pain.
Step 3 - Then the small woman puts one foot on his face while holding down the attacker in an intricate Aikido wrist-lock.
Step 4 - She removes the knife from the attacker as effortlessly as removing a hair pin.
Then she looks proudly at the camera and smiles!
After I saw this video, I was just hoping the gullible woman student never tries out this in the unfortunate event of a real sexual attack. She will be better off running as if possessed. ( Obviously I can't share this video and help spread this sham. But see the safer and better option here )

What are the major blunders committed by this martial-arts instructor?
Blunder 1 - TOO MANY ASSUMPTIONS - As I often say the expansion of ASSUME is "It makes an ASS of U and ME".
The technique is so complicated that it will be difficult even for a martial-arts veteran. Assuming a small novice woman can execute this technique will only expose her to more danger.
Blunder 2 - TECHNIQUE TOO PRECISE  - Small-joint manipulation
Highly precision movements like bending the thumb backwards, that too the thumb of the hand holding the knife just won't be possible for 2 reasons -
1) The attacker WON'T be static. The woman will only end up cutting her hand on the knife blade
2) The woman will be in extreme panic, that she CAN'T EXECUTE this precise Aikido small-joint manipulation.
1) A small woman CAN'T just like that create enough pain that makes a bigger, more aggressive man fall like a mannequin.
2) Her foot on the face WON'T hold that angry attacker down.. and that too he has one hand free! He can do so many things with his free hand, like tripping her leg, supporting himself and turning his body. Its stupid to assume he will lie there silently.
1) Longer engagement in close quarters only exposes the woman to more danger
2) Women instinctively will only move away.. and NOT increase physical contact with a threat
This is the common problem with traditional martial arts. They were designed for warriors and NOT an average woman. The Instructors just keep teaching them to school girls!
Controlling and Disarming is NOT required for a woman, unless she is a Police Officer!

In summary -
The technique..
1) ... should NOT be based on STRENGTH
2) ... should NOT be COMPLICATED & LAYERED
3)... should NOT assume the WOMAN is going to be COOL and OBJECTIVE
4) .. should NOT assume the ATTACKER is going to be STATIC and COMPLIANT
5) .. should NOT increase ENGAGEMENT with the Attacker
6) .. should NOT teach CONTROL of the attacker
7) ... should NOT teach DISARMING WEAPON

These 7 DICTUMs hold good for all self-defense techniques.. They are MORE CRITICAL for women.
In a later post, I will talk of What to Teach in Women's Self Defence Class.
Meanwhile give me your feedback and suggestions. 

Related Posts -
“How to find out if the martial-arts instructor is a martial-fart”
 10A-s of Personal Safety for Women" - Part I & Part II
Videos -
KravMaga - safety tips for Children & Women - NDTV Hindu Chennai

SreeRam is a KravMaga self-defence instructor at Chennai, South India. He teaches Civilians, Chennai City Police and Security.
SreeRam has started W.A.H.R (Women against harassment & Rape)an NGO devoted to increase personal safety awareness amongst women and equip them to handle sexual harassment at public and work places.
SreeRam conducts KravMaga personal safety and self-defense workshops at corporates, especially IT/BPO companies where many women work late. He has also conducted workshops, for rural women.
On 8th March 2012 ( International Women's Day) KravMaga SreeRam released a small handy booklet for women titled " 10A-s of Personal Safety for Women" 
Mobile - 0-934 000 66 00 , Email - kravmaga.chennai@gmail.com
Chennai Site - https://sites.google.com/site/kravmagachennai/
KRAVMAGA BLOG -  http://kravmaga-chennai.blogspot.com/
LINKED IN -  http://in.linkedin.com/in/ksr960
FACEBOOK - http://bit.ly/KravMagaChennai
YOUTUBE - http://www.youtube.com/user/KravMagaSreeRam
GOOGLE PROFILE - http://www.google.com/profiles/ksr960
TWEET - @kravMagaSreeRam


  1. ON THE DOT!! Just what i have been saying for so many years...Awesome summation.

    Sadly the percentage of such 'Masters??' and Instructors have always been high.

    Funniest part is you can walk in to any such class and get 'certified??' by such Masters!

    And this is not only restricted to ladies, but i have seen this sad state with kids who are put in such classes...

    If possible please get this content from your blog and create a FB page...Very nicely put...

    My suggestion is for all instructors to segregate the women students based on body weight with first 2 months purely focused on core strengthening and calisthenic exercises interspersed with basic H2H...also end the sessions with an Attitude Class - where the psychological aspect of both the attacker and a victim is played upon...either through practical situations and scenarios played out...this situational conditioning is very important to understand how to ensure a seamless application of what they learn...that is why KM, JKD, MT Boran, Bokator to an extent are relevant arts which suit todays modern street fight scenarios...except for MT Boran and KM defence against multiple attackers with/without weapons very few (in most cases nil) systems incorporate this in their regular sparring...let us hope IKMF and its exponents like yourself and Vicky are able to make a difference. Great post once again.


  2. Thanks Prashant..
    getting sustainable interest from women is the challenge.. I am thinking hard on a package to which women can relate to.
    Appreciate the feedback..keeps me going.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Hi,

    Talking about people who shouldnt be teaching self-defence, check this out!


    This is what happens when ignorance meets fraudulence in Chennai. :)



    1. Thanks James..
      Hmm..Recently this 'poster master' was in news for making a sculpture of the CM with his own blood!
      No wonder practitioners of martial arts are NOT seen as matured and respectable.

    2. Hi,

      Yes it appears that marketing skills make up for a lack of martial art skills! FYI, I am a practicing karateka in one of the premier karate schools (direct Okinawan lineage under one of the best and most learned masters), not one of these McDojo schools. As a practitioner of classical karate, I can well apprecuate the difference between martial art techniques and self-defence apllied skills. There is a world of difference.

      The whole point of self-defence is to use the least amount of energy, time and technique to save oneself. You create a window of opportunity to give yourself those precious seconds so you can run like hell. When I advise someone on a self-defence technique, it is with the simplest, most straightforward means that a non-martial artist can employ with little or no training. No fancy footwork, no complicated locks, joint manipulation, etc. Teach them something that works not in slo-mo, but in real time, that is the clincher.

      Traditional martial artists must strip away the non-essential when translating classical techniques into real world scenarios.

      I explain it to people like this: If your goal is to be a world class chef, you enrol in a Cordon Bleu school and take years to learn and refine your techniques. If you want to learn to cook to survive and feed your family, take a crash course in cooking. The cordon bleu chef can cook for his family too, but he has to 'unlearn' his cooking rulebook to cook everyday food. Traditional martial arts like karate and self-defence fighting systems like Krav Maga are exactly the same. :)



    3. Well said, James.
      Infact I have articulated the pro-cons of the tendency to compare various fighting methods in my recent blog - Any martial art is GOOD, if the teacher is NOT BAD.

  5. See, whats the reality of knife attacks!

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