BY RUTH LESMANA | WRITER
Why teach women to fight?
Training people in reality based self defence often kicks up a storm of questions and sometimes, laughter. People often respond with confusion about why we do what we do, or with disagreement.
“Because you know, if someone approaches you on the street and asks for your money; you should just give it to them. Then they’ll walk away.”
But what if they don’t?
“If someone’s stronger and bigger than you, you won’t be able to win.”
What if I want to fight to survive?
The reality is that women, especially in the communities in which we operate, are still viewed as the weaker counterpart. Almost every month, we hear of those who have been attacked, raped, sexually assaulted, abused, and sometimes even killed.
We’re not saying we can prevent these things from happening, even though we’re doing our part to train both men and women about respecting each other, and about the rights that they have. But we can do our best to prepare them if these situations arise.
Our students come from all different backgrounds: abusive situations, situations of trafficking, wives and mothers who work jobs that require them to go out into communities which may have hidden threats, and ‘ordinary’ citizens who value these skills.
It’s not about teaching them to be violent or to seek out an opponent. It’s about self-belief, and pushing past the psychological barriers that form, especially in a violent encounter; and training hard in techniques that are effective in helping them to survive.
It goes beyond learning to strike and take someone down. It’s about increasing their situational awareness skills, and helping them to understand the psychological impact that violent encounters have on people. This aspect in itself – pushing past the physical and mental endurance – is hard to explain. The hard work that goes into all of this involves daily choices you have to make to stretch yourself and step out of your comfort zone. Especially for those who have to re-live past traumatic experiences while they are training.
So no, we’re not teaching them to bash people around. We’re not teaching them to show others how big and strong they are just because they can. We’re certainly not teaching them to be bullies. But we are training them to fight against injustices, especially injustices being pushed upon them and those in their care.
We train women so that we constantly choose not to be seen as commodities, and we train men so that they act on valuing women and children. We train them so that they can learn to recognise when their rights are being violated, and to then use their voice and action to DO SOMETHING. Whether that’s in a violent encounter, or anywhere else throughout their lives.
Everyone thinks that they’re safe until it hits closer to home. Until something ‘bigger’ happens in their neighbourhood, or someone they know. Because seeing it through screens and hearing it through the media makes it easy for us to look away and remove ourselves from responsibility. The standard we walk past, is the standard we set. So we fight to set higher standards for women.
“The standard we walk past, is the standard we set. So we fight to set higher standards for women.” – Ruth Lesmana
In the end, here’s what it comes down to …
Freedom is worth fighting for.
Justice is worth fighting for.
One is worth fighting for.
She is worth fighting for.
“If I’m in chains, you’re in chains.”