Here’s a topic that is often hotly debated in Krav Maga circles: Should women train Krav Maga differently to men?
There’s one school of thought that says no. The reasoning is that self defense is self defense, crime is crime, and if a woman is somehow taught differently (the implication being: more gently), then she is being done a disservice, and is not learning how to cope with real-life violence. Instead, she's being given a false sense of confidence which could mean that she is utterly unprepared in a real crisis.
The other school of thought says yes. The rationale here is that because women typically face different threats than men do, that emphasis should be placed on equipping her to face those threats effectively and specifically.
So… who’s right?
The answer is: they both are, and for different reasons.
THE MYTH OF “ONE SIZE FITS ALL”
There are Krav Maga instructors out there who like to boast that their female students are as “tough” as the males in their classes. They generally take pride in showing how just how much of a beating their ladies can take, and often typify the “you can cry, bleed, get bruised or broken, but you can never quit” mentality.
And, what’s more, they view this as a requirement, a condition for acceptance, that applies to anyone who wants to become part of their tribe, or be accepted into their little clique.
The implication, of course, is that if someone who walks into a class can’t deal with this, then she should rather just leave, because she isn’t “prepared for reality”.
Unfortunately, ignorance on this scale says nothing about the student, but everything about the instructor. Any instructor who deliberately beats on a beginner is a bully, plain and simple. Not only that, but he is pitifully ignorant of what “coaching” actually means and actually shouldn’t be teaching anything at all.
What Neanderthals like these tend to ignore, is the fact that any beginner (male or female) should never be thrown in the deep end. It may make a woman “tougher” (in the same way that an abused child becomes “tougher” in taking a beating), but there is huge damage done – both physically and psychologically.
Any so-called “instructor” who does this, does not understand the difference between distress (negative resilience brought about by repeated beating and scarring), and eustress (positive resilience brought about by careful, intelligent, progressive acclimatization and strengthening).
And, unfortunately, many of these specimens produce female students who embody the same warped belief, and boast about it the same way the males do:
“Think you’re tough? I can take more pain than you can. I’m tough!”
“Anyone who does things differently to us is soft!”
People who suffer from this delusion are often very eager to “prove” themselves. They act arrogantly, and love confrontation. Why? Quite simply, because hurting people hurt other people.
In a desperate need to validate themselves, they try to dominate or belittle others in an attempt to make themselves feel superior. Now, you don’t need to be a genius to see that this contributes absolutely nothing to a better society, or to the personal well-being – both mental and physical – of the very people who are part of this cult of mistaken belief.
However, on one thing, they’re correct, and here it is: training does need to be realistic, and it does need to prepare women for the ugly reality of violence.
But there’s a far more intelligent way to do it.
WHY WOMEN NEED TO BE TRAINED DIFFERENTLY TO MEN
For a start, it’s pretty ignorant to say, as some do, that all crime and violence is the same, and that therefore, a woman should train exactly the same way as a man should.
Think about it:
- Men generally aren’t targeted as potential rape victims (an obvious one).
- Men aren’t (usually) catcalled, sexually harassed on a daily basis, or stalked. They’re not ogled or groped, or asked for “favours” to win a promotion or clinch a big deal.
- A man walking into a bar full of women doesn’t generally have to worry about his safety. But for a woman walking into a bar full of men, it’s an entirely different scenario.
- Men’s drinks don’t generally get spiked on social occasions.
- Far fewer men than women are subjected to domestic violence.
- Men aren’t seen as “easy targets” by muggers or carjackers as much as women are.
- In a confrontation (generally speaking), men don’t physically fear a woman. A woman, on the other hand, has good reason to fear a man in an altercation. He’s usually stronger, and more aggressive.
Of course this isn’t always the case. But most often, it is.
TAKE IT EASY
There are other factors as well.
A woman who approaches a club or instructor for self defense training may already have been a victim of crime or assault, or suffered previous trauma, for example (this is often the case).
And now you want to beat her up in class to “make her tough” or show her what “reality” is all about?
That’s not what we do.
A woman seeking competent self defense instruction is very often nervous or unsure what to expect. She often starts out feeling vulnerable and out of her depth, and very often it’s in a training environment populated by males.
Many times, for a woman, just showing up, just taking that tentative first step, is often a huge step of faith, and it takes a great deal of courage.
So, at Elite Defence Academy International, we take a very different approach.
HOW WE DO THINGS
Understand that when you join an Elite Defence Academy Krav Maga class, you’re in a safe space.
There’s no ego, there’s no hostility, there’s no showing off. What there is, is an environment that is supportive, open, friendly, and respectful.
We encourage you to start where you are, with no unrealistic expectations. If you’re nervous, take your time. Get to know the people around you, get to know that they care for you and will help you. They will uplift you and never hurt you. Our job is to teach you, to equip you, and certainly not to hammer you into “toughness” just because we think it’s cool.
In time, challenge yourself. The point will come where you’ll gain the necessary confidence to want to do more, to experience training that is a bit more robust. You’ll want to know if you can deal with an actual assailant, and whether what you’re learning is actually effective. And when you’re ready, we enable you to take a few more bumps, to work a bit harder, to put yourself out there. To feel a sense of risk and even fear, sometimes – but on your terms.
And it will always be at a pace that you can handle.
Then, when you’re experienced enough, let us challenge you to get even better. At some point down the road in your training, you’ll be ready to be pushed a little (or a lot) out of your comfort zone – because it’s necessary. And, depending on the level you’re at, this will equip you to deal – very realistically – with an actual crisis.
Just as you grow progressively stronger and fitter by training in a gym, so you grow progressively more skilled, more resilient, and more confident as you progress in our Krav Maga classes. But we acknowledge that it has to be done with care and skill, and that each individual carries her own unique strengths and weaknesses.
An Elite Defence Academy Krav Maga instructor knows this.
He (or she) is never a bully. Yes, you will get bruises. Yes, you will learn how to actually fight, and to do it superbly. And in the process, you’ll grow stronger, more empowered, and ultimately, far tougher than those who confuse a “brawling mentality” with intelligent self defense.
So, as a woman seeking practical, realistic training in self defense, you have options: you can fall for the wannabe tough guy loners who mistake ego and noise for strength, or – you can visit an Elite Defence Academy International Krav Maga club, where you’ll be welcomed, trained professionally, and shown how to maximize your potential in an environment of respect, high levels of skill, and true empowerment, by superbly qualified instructors.
We'd love to get to know you, and you’re welcome, anytime.
Elite Defence Academy International has just launched Warrior Women, a division that provides smart, practical self defense training exclusively for women, by women!